A Road Scholar Program by Larry McClellan
Before interstates and federal highways were distinguished by numbers-I57 or I55, for instance-these roads were christened with colorful names that reflected the personality of the land surrounding it. Major roads like the Lincoln, Dixie, and Mississippi Valley Highways, or the Alton Way, Swastika Trail, and Corn Belt Route were all memorable roads that carried people across the state. From 1913 on, these were among the 51 named highways developed in Illinois. At the end of 1926, they were all supplanted by a system of federal numbering for highways, expanded upon by a system of state road numbers.
How this all happened is a fascinating combination of stories about road-building, community public relations, and changing ideas about travel in America. Learn about the development of early roads and highways, the “Good Roads” movement, and the interests that led to the creation of the named highways and eventually to the numbering systems. Celebrate the Illinois highway system’s 100th anniversary by reflecting on how changes in American culture and society have impacted transportation in Illinois, and consequently, millions of Americans today.
This event is Free and Open to the public. For more information, please contact Alissa Williams, 309.347.7111.