<![CDATA[The Historic US Route 20 Association - It Happened on 20 Blog]]>Thu, 26 Apr 2018 04:40:15 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[9. The Yellowstone Trail]]>Wed, 07 Aug 2013 10:15:51 GMThttp://historicus20.com/it-happened-on-20-blog/9-the-yellowstone-trail Before US 20 came into existence in 1925-26, another name for the road was in use along many segments from Boston to Chicago.

The Yellowstone Trail began in 1912, as a grassroots organization, by citizens who wanted to improve their roads and promote their towns along that road, especially a section of road between Ipswich and Aberdeen, SD - 26 miles. When this road was graded and ditched on either side, it made headlines in the local newspaper with a look toward the future stating, "A good road from Plymouth Rock to Puget Sound". This quote stuck to many and soon became a motto of a new organization, the Yellowstone Trail Association (YTA) - taking the name of the National Park where the roads would connect to.

The YTA, did not build roads, however pressured/lobbied local and state officials to improve roads in a county or town area. The YTA actually sent out a bill to each of the towns along the trail. If the town or county paid the bill due, that county or town would appear in the YTA's literature, brochures and promotions. If a town did not pay, it literally did not exist on the YTA's map.

The route became popular and other highway trails started popping up, identifying main routes and naming them, one such that remains today would be the Lincoln Highway.

In 1916, the YTA approved an extension of the highway that would take it to the Atlantic Ocean at Plymouth Rock - which included a relay of a military message to be delivered in Seattle from Boston. This gave the road credence as a road that could connect each end of the country.

By 1919, over one million pieces of information had been distributed about the Yellowstone Trail to travelers in the towns. Problems began to arise when one road could be known by as many as 7 different Auto Trail names and as the Yellowstone Trail tried to move east by marking its road, some areas denied marking due to an already over crowded highway.

It is not known or documented very well in how much of the Yellowstone Trail arrow markings made it out of Ohio. Maps would show the trail running along various roads to Massachusetts and some newspaper articles or guide books would reference the Yellowstone Trail through NY and MA, but to find any physical evidence as to calling it the Yellowstone Trail, may be lost.

The trail did move over time, but prominently these sections of Route 20 were once known as the Yellowstone Trail (E-W)
- Weston, MA to Albany, NY (Turned S- to MA 30 to Boston)
- Auburn, NY to Avon, NY
- Irving, NY to Geneva, OH
- Painesville, OH to Cleveland, OH
- Clyde, OH to Toledo, OH
- Gary, IN to Chicago, IL

The slow death of the Yellowstone Trail came in 1926 when the US Highway Number system came into being. Part of the new system was to stipulate that all trail markers had to conform and not obstruct the new US Highway numbers. The names could still be used, but for reference and mapping purposes, the numbers would take precedent.

The nail in the coffin so to speak would be the onset of the Great Depression. Many organizations lost all of their funding and could no longer sustain themselves, plus, now the federal government was assisting in maintaining the highways and road building, as well as oil companies producing travel maps for free and giving them out at gas stations.

The Yellowstone trail was referenced for several years to come tho - as late as the 1940s. Since then it faded into history along its Route 20 sections. However starting in Wisconsin and through Washington State, the trail is still known and a resurgence in the past 15 years have allowed historic markers to be placed on the routes. As for the Route 20 sections, we have asked many local historians in every town to tell us about the Yellowstone Trail, and to them, this is the first they had heard of it.

Please visit www.yellowstonetrail.org for a lot more info and maps!
<![CDATA[8. The Pre-Emption Line & Road (NY)]]>Fri, 26 Jul 2013 04:37:04 GMThttp://historicus20.com/it-happened-on-20-blog/8-the-pre-emption-line-road-nyHave you driven Route 20 near Geneva, NY and seen the road sign for "Pre-Emption Road"? Here is a fascinating story that we present in today's "It Happened on Route 20..."

As the American Colonies began to settle, the King of England, would grant land titles to certain individuals. They were allowed to claim this land all the way to the Pacific Ocean. At times though several grants could be super imposed on each other and this happened with New York and Massachusetts.

In much of the land in question was inhabited and owned by the Iroquois. That was until 1779, when several expeditions, brought terror to the Finger Lakes region with many settlements being burned or wiped out under Gen Sullivan. These actions allowed settlements of the Europeans to come in.

After the war, in 1786, a special convention to settle the claims between Massachusetts and New York was held in Hartford, Connnecticut. Massachusetts needed money, New York needed clear title to one and one half million acres it had promised for military bonuses.

At Hartford, in return for the establishment of the eastern boundary of New York where it is now rather than at the Connecticut River, Massachusetts gave up all territorial claims to lands west of this new boundary. Massachusetts was given, in addition, the pre-emptive right to approximately six million acres of land in western New York. This settlement meant that New York would eventually have the political jurisdiction and sovereignty over this area, but Massachusetts was to have the right to the first purchase of the land from the Indians. In other words, the Indians would hold the land as long as they pleased, but could sell it only to Massachusetts or to people designated by Massachusetts. As soon as Massachusetts either bought and resold the land or sold their right of purchase, the land became a part of New York.

The line on the east, marking off this area, became known as the Pre-emption Line. This line was to run due north to Lake Ontario from a point 82 miles west of the Delaware River on the New York-Pennsylvania border. This line approximates the present line between Chemung and Steuben counties.

Pre-emption means, "the act or right of first purchase." Hence, the east and west pre-emption lines mark the boundaries of the area where Massachusetts had the right of first purchase from the Indians. Two gentlemen, Phelps and Gorham purchased the lands from Massachusetts (which reverted the claims to NY)

Many disputes arose about this line, the first came in 1792, when it was discovered that the line was 2 miles off and was redrawn down Seneca Lake and would become the Seneca/Ontario County line, leaving the original Pre-Emption line as Pre-emption road. As late as 1965, the matter was taken to NYS for clarification, where it was turned back to a local issue. This selection was taken from http://crookedlakereview.com/articles/1_33/31oct1990/31hilbert.htm
<![CDATA[7. A History of the US 20 Route Shield]]>Sat, 20 Jul 2013 04:33:18 GMThttp://historicus20.com/it-happened-on-20-blog/7-a-history-of-the-us-20-route-shieldWe take a look back at the history of the road sign. In our photos that we post you may see many different route 20 signs and we will briefly explain it here for you.

The US Route Shield is to make road travel simple and easy by just following a number. Each posted sign is called a reassurance shield - meaning "It is assuring you that you are on Route 20". Sadly modern GPS technology and direction giving has made some travel difficult by using named streets, ie, Main St, instead of saying Route. When you think about it, it is very simple to give directions stating, "Follow 34 for 12 miles and take a right on 20 for 10 miles - you are there" - no matter how many turns and different streets you may be on.

1926 - The first shield design came about in August 1925 at the meeting of the American Association of State Highway Officials. They all agreed on the US Shield design and fonts, which at best can be considered BLOCK type fonts. The design was sent out to and made by the state highway officials. There is little deviation in the shield designs during this time period. The State name appeared at the top, with a US in the middle and the route # below.

1948 - An updated version of the 1926 shield came in 1948. It was cleaner and smoother. Another version began to appear with just the shield outline at this time too, primarily on larger signs, but the individual highway marker looked like this. The # Fonts used are still used today.

1950s -(not shown) Given two designs in 1948, some states did deviate some and started creating a singular 20, since some signs were hand painted by stencil, it was a lot easier, faster and cheaper to make than by using the state names and US. Pennsylvania had their own version.

1961 - The FHA changed the guidelines once again on the highway shields. This time, a singular white shield would be placed on a black background. The state names and US would be eliminated . This version would be adopted country wide in 1965. The shield in the pic dates from the late 60s early 70s.

1970 (modern) The shield design changed a little in 1970 and it is the shield that is used today.

The Federal Highway Administration has specific guidelines to follow when making a highway sign. However independent contractors may deviate at times either by using a copy, free hand or Photoshop a version. Those will be discussed in another topic.

The first 3 shields are in our collection. We would also like to thank our friend Jake for his extensive knowledge of road signs.

We strive in our organization to use correct fonts and shields in our designs, marketing and information.
<![CDATA[6. The First Nuclear Reactors]]>Fri, 12 Jul 2013 04:31:14 GMThttp://historicus20.com/it-happened-on-20-blog/6-the-first-nuclear-reactorsYou can travel to an isolated area of Idaho west of Idaho Falls to the location of the first Experimental Breeder Reactor in the world. In 1951, electricity generated from the first nuclear reactor was created here, enough to power four - 200 watt light bulbs. It grew to power its own facility. It was decommissioned in 1964. The site is open for tours Memorial Day to Labor Day and is located off of Route 20.

Eventually, as reactors were built at the site, the town Arco, was the first town in the world powered by nuclear power in 1955.

From the NHL- NPS
On December 20, 1951, the EBR-I produced the first usable amounts of electricity created by nuclear means; in July 1963, it was the first reactor to achieve a self-sustaining chain reaction using plutonium instead of uranium as the major component in the fuel. In addition, the EBR-I was the first reactor to demonstrate the feasibility of using liquid metal at high temperatures as a reactor coolant.
<![CDATA[5. The Henry Knox Trail]]>Thu, 04 Jul 2013 04:27:41 GMThttp://historicus20.com/it-happened-on-20-blog/5-the-henry-knox-trailOne of the more fascinating stories to have occurred on what is now Route 20 happened with a person named Henry Knox in the early days of the Revolutionary War. Please note this is a very abbreviated version of this story.

Henry Knox was a Boston bookseller. Stocking books primarily of military history. He witnessed the Boston Massacre, helped develop fortifications around the city and directed cannon fire at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

In the winter of 1775-76, the city of Boston was blockaded by the King's Army (Red Coats). General Washington, who was impressed with his military skills had befriended Knox. In order to gain control history suggests that Knox told Washington of a plan to gain cannons and artillery from Ft. Ticonderoga and Crown Point, NY. Washington, appointed Knox to be in charge of this expedition and set out reaching Fort Ticonderoga on December 5, 1775.

The expedition back carried over 60 tons of cannons and artillery. Knox followed many paths, some prominent others to avoid detection by any of the King's Army down the Hudson River.

He entered Massachusetts on January 10 in Alford. By January 14 he had reached the path in Russell and continued on what was the Boston Post Road, and now Route 20. The original road veered at Palmer to enter Warren, Brookfield, Worcester to Shrewsbury. (See 1926 Route 20 map http://www.historicus20.comhttp://historicus20.com/uploads/3/4/4/1/34413072/route20_ma.pdf ).

On January 22, he entered Northborough. At this time, the Post Road was becoming increasingly monitored, so the many locals who were aware of Knox arriving, took him on various side paths to avoid detection. On the 25 he went through Sudbury, Wayland and Weston, the 26th Waltham, Watertown. And on January 27 - arrived in Cambridge.

A major military advantage came when the cannons arrived to Washington, fortifying Dorchester Heights, and on March 17 - the King's Army evacuated Boston.

Knox's plan is still considered one of the greatest actions in the Revolution.

In 1926 - the 150th Anniversary of this trek, markers were placed along the Route and updated in 1975, when the Bicentennial of the Knox expedition was researched heavily. From December through January 1975-76, a reenactment of Knox's trek was happened along the original route.

Today, most towns have a General Knox Trail marker prominently featured in a town square. While driving Route 20 in Massachusetts, you will see these. (Note- along original 1926 Route 20) The Knox Trail does veer off on MA Route 23 in Russell.
<![CDATA[4. Sergeant Charles Floyd]]>Fri, 21 Jun 2013 04:25:34 GMThttp://historicus20.com/it-happened-on-20-blog/4-sergeant-charles-floydSergeant Charles Floyd was one of the outstanding members of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. Born in Kentucky, he served during the Revolutionary War. He was handpicked to join Lewis & Clark(L&C) at the Falls of the Ohio and was appointed one of three sergeants.

On August 19, 1804, after 98 days of exploring the Missouri River, Floyd became violently ill. L&C described it as bilious colic. A modern review suggests that he suffered from an appendicitis, for which at that time, there was no cure. L&C wrote " S. Floyd as bad as he can be has no pulse & nothing will stay a moment in his stomach or bowls". He could not be saved.

Just before noon on August 20, 1804, the expedition boats pulled up to the east bank of the Missouri near present day Sioux City, IA, and Floyd whispered, "I am going away". He was carried to the highest bluff and buried with full honors of war. The spot was marked with a red cedar post with Floyd's name and date. Sergeant Floyd was the first U.S. soldier to die west of the Mississippi River and would be the only member of the Lewis & Clark Expedition to lose his life.

On their return, two years later, they found the grave disturbed, but intact and refilled it.

The Missouri would erode much of the bluff where Floyd was buried and he was reburied. In 1894, his journal was published and a revival in his grave were undertaken. He was reburied in urns and marked with a large marble slab. Funds were raised and matched by citizens and the state of Iowa to erect a Memorial to Floyd with its cornerstone being laid on August 20, 1900.

Sergeant Floyd was reburied a fourth time, at the core of the Monument which was dedicated on Memorial Day, 1901.

The Sergeant Floyd Monument, a National Historic Landmark, in Sioux City, Iowa, is located along US Hwy. 75, one mile north of 1-29 & US 20 Exit 143. It is open daily, year-round.

(Info taken from NPS information tablet at site)
<![CDATA[3. Why is US 30 above 20 in Oregon?]]>Sat, 15 Jun 2013 04:22:41 GMThttp://historicus20.com/it-happened-on-20-blog/3-why-is-us-30-above-20-in-oregonOne of the more interesting stories of political maneuvering came in 1925 when the original layout of Route 20 was announced. Almost every location agreed to the road being #20 with the exception of the state of Oregon. Since US 20 was intended to be a transcontinental highway (the zero at the end) officials in Oregon felt that since the roadway through Yellowstone NP closed in the winter months and the roads in Idaho were not improved in some areas, the commerce and transportation would be difficult, if at times impossible - therefore, cutting off Oregon from traffic heading east. The Oregon Highway Dept asked that instead, Route 30 a more southern transcontinental highway, be connected to where 20 was to go in Pocatello ID - then run instead to Astoria. The American Assoc of Highway Officials agreed to Oregon's request and 20 was then stopped at the eastern entrance to Yellowstone NP. and 30 continued on what was to be parts of 20.

Finally in the late 30s, as the roadways improved, Oregon once again asked that 20 be brought to the coast, this time to Albany. A review showed some areas still needed work but by 1940, 20 made it to Albany, OR and by 1942 was in Newport. Finally a transcontinental highway. Sections in Idaho were still slow to improve and some of the route was not signed 20 until later 1942.

The map shows in Red the present route of US 20. The Green indicates the original plan of US 20, which is mostly US 30 today with the exception of the connector from Idaho Falls to Pocatello. US 20 and 30 are concurrent today in Mountain Home to near Boise.

Today - this is why US 30 is above US 20 in Oregon.
<![CDATA[2. The Cardiff Giant]]>Fri, 07 Jun 2013 04:19:40 GMThttp://historicus20.com/it-happened-on-20-blog/2-the-cardiff-giantWhat do the Route 20 towns of Cardiff, NY and Fort Dodge, Iowa have in common?
In 1869, one of the greatest hoaxes of the 19th century happened here.

Stubb Newell of Cardiff, NY needed a new well. On Oct 16, 1869, Stubb directed two well diggers to a spot he selected behind his barn. They dug 3 feet and hit something solid. The well diggers uncovered a huge foot, as they dug more, an entire body of a man emerged. 2 days later a large tent was placed over the 10 foot stone man and crowds of nearly 200-500 people/day paid 50 cents to see this giant. Scientists, philosophers and the clergy all attended and were challenged in their beliefs. As the story grew - so did those who cried hoax.

P.T. Barnum offered $60,000 to have the giant but was turned down. He then created his own giant based on this giant to display in NYC. Finally the story broke down as people recalled a man named George Hull (cousin of Newell) visiting a gypsum mine in Fort Dodge, IA in 1868. He commissioned a 5 ton block to be used to "carve a statue of Abraham Lincoln". The block of gypsum was shipped to Chicago and carved into this giant man. The surface was treated with acids and picked at with needles to give it an antiquated aged look. It was then shipped and buried in NY. And the rest is history...

Today the giant rests at the Farmer's Museum in Cooperstown, NY However, the people of Ft Dodge figured why not get in on the action, and in 1969 - a replica was created from the same gypsum quary and is on display at the Fort Museum. 
<![CDATA[1. The Lincoln Douglas Debates]]>Sat, 01 Jun 2013 04:17:07 GMThttp://historicus20.com/it-happened-on-20-blog/1-the-lincoln-douglas-debatesThe Lincoln - Douglas Debates, Freeport, IL In 1858, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas agreed to debate each other as they ran for the US Illinois Senate Seat. A series of 7 debates, 3 hours each were held across the state. On August 27, 1858, 15,000 people showed up to hear this debate. Newspapers at the time would transcribe the debate in full, however, each newspaper either leaned Rep or Dem and would edit the speeches to fit to their candidate. If Douglas spoke or mis-spoke - the Dem paper would edit it to make him sound more eloquent and Lincoln would be quoted verbatim. and vice versa. Lincoln lost the senate seat that year. However he did take all the debates and edited them to correct misstatements or mistakes and published them in a book. By 1860, this helped get him on the ticket and become his parties nomination for President in 1860. You can visit the location of this site today in Freeport IL Lincoln–Douglas debate 114 E. Douglas Street
Freeport, Illinois.