US 50 -- Memories from the Past

All pictures and writings are Copyright protected.
2012 W. Berg Press


Good memories from the past.  I am sitting in my boyfriend's 1931 Ford.  We were on a "date" going to the Seven Caves near Bainbridge, Ohio, on US Route 50.  This seemed a long way from our hometown in Williamsburg, Ohio.  In those days cars could not travel as fast as they do today.  I'm not sure if I fell for his beautiful touring car, or for him.  In either case, we have been happily married for almost 55 years.  Kate Hutchison, Batavia OH. 

Old Timers Remember Route 50

I was born in D.C. in 1930, and moved to Arlington County, Va. in 1931.   This was before Route 50, as we know it now, existed.

We lived until '36 in Arlington, on Barton Street, just a block from the current path of Route 50.  One of my early memories of the new road was when my father took my sister and I out on the new Route 50 to teach her to drive, in a Model A Ford.  This was in about '34 or '35.  I can still picture the road... an unpaved dirt road, under construction.

Until that time, to get to Washington from Arlington, you had to go through Fort Myer, using Pershing Drive.  I don't imagine there are many people left who remember that.   For you youngsters, you must remember that the automobile was still fairly NEW at the time, and major roads were few in number.

I have fond memories of the Cavalry from Fort Myer going out in the early AM on the new road, practicing their formations, exercising the horses, and enjoying the scenery.

I'll buy a coffee for anybody who can tell me the name of the watering hole at the intersection of Pershing Drive and Route 50. It was a joint for the soldiers, just after prohibition.

Good Luck to all,

William B. Eddy

I have read story upon story of the loneliest highway and they all seem to follow the adage of Horace Greeley whose advice "Go West, Young Man" seems to predominate the thinking of America. I propose to drive Highway 50 from West to East, starting in or near San Francisco and proceeding easterly to Washington, D.C. It is my plan to drive my Messerschmitte KR200 over this route and to prove to myself that the trip can be made for under a hundred dollars on fuel. No other car can equal that today.

In 1940 my father left Tulsa, Oklahoma with twenty dollars and sixty-five cents and a full tank of gas in a 1936 Chevrolet and arrived in McGill Nevada with thirty cents! Along the way, in a place called "Joe City", Arizona the timing chain on the engine broke and repair and replacement took all day for a 'shade tree mechanic' with a heart as big as the Grand Canyon to do the job and get us on our way. By the way, we had but to drive the car out of the front yard of that man and turn right on Highway 40 and proceed on our way to Nevada. The memory of that man and his wonderful family has stuck with me for more than sixty years and not a day has passed that I haven't paused to wish that I could return the favor and consideration in grand fashion to that wonderful family.

It seems that our Highway 40 has now become Highway 50, but I will never think of the road as inhospitable. When our timing chain broke about twenty miles before reaching Joe City, traffic as not what one would call 'heavy' and as I recall it we waited for two or three hours for another car to come by heading West. The car, upon approaching us speeded up as did many others in the next twelve hours. A freight train passed going East about a half mile across the way and it may have been the Southern Pacific. We spent the night "camped out" in the car on the side of the road. The next day a westbound freight train came chugging along and stopped. One of the train crew walked the half mile up to where we were stranded, ascertained our predicament and promised to send help. That very afternoon a Spanish-looking man came driving up in an old pick-up truck and towed us to his home in Joe City. From his home he called Winslow, Arizona and ordered the new timing chain and then called a friend to pick it up and bring it to Joe City. The telephone cost no doubt exceeded the price of the belt. I can honestly say that the road through Joe City Arizona may be the 'loneliest' road but I found it to be friendly.

Roy Conklin


now go back to US50, Coast to Coast