One of the most interesting travel references of its day was the Hobbs Grade and Surface Guide originally sponsored by the Mohawk Rubber Company of Akron, Ohio. Based on my limited collection of such guides, the Hobbs Guide seems to have been a popular travel product sold by tire dealerships and auto clubs from the mid-1920s to the mid-1930s. The guides were likely supplanted by the free maps that were being more aggressively distributed by growing oil companies which had enjoyed new successes by marketing branded gasoline.
The originator of the Guide, and its publisher throughout, was Howard F. Hobbs. The first guide appears to have been published in 1922. The latest guide that I have found is dated 1933, and at that time was sponsored by the B.F. Goodrich Company. By 1933, guides were available for 25 different routes from all parts of the nation, including all the most popular named trails that had recently assumed federal numberings. Hobbs prided himself on "telling the truth without fear or favor [with] no highway, hotel, or organization...shown favoritism." The Guide was "entirely free of advertising" other than that of the sponsoring tire company, with "hotels, garages, and camps listed on their merits alone."
Although the reading matter which describes the numerous hotels, garages, and camps certainly conjures nostalgic images of old-time auto touring, the most unique feature of each Hobbs Guide is the "Profile and Surface Chart" that graces the top of each page. With profile information printed in dark blue above it, the quality of the road surface "is revealed by a red strip across the bottom of the chart [and] the more red, the better the road." Whether paved or gravel, the road was judged as either fine, good, fair, or poor.
The images accompanying this text are mostly from the 1932 edition (or Fifth Edition) of the Hobbs Guide for the Lincoln Highway between Chicago and New York. Each image is from the collection of Lincoln Highway Association member David Cole of Santa Maria, California. The image which includes the "Key for Use of Guide" is taken from a Guide in my personal collection that is dated 1933.