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Monday, September 24, 2018

Case Studies in Migration: Part Ten: The Interstate Highway System

By SPUI - National Atlas, Public Domain,
In 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act.  The Act originally authorized the spending of $25 billion for the construction of a 41,000-mile interstate highway system across the country. One of the original stated purposes was to provide access for the defense of the United States in the event of a land-based attack. The map above is from the National Atlas, now part of the National Map of the U.S. Geological Survey of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Stepping back a few years, one of the first transcontinental roads was the Lincoln Highway that was dedicated in 1913 and ran from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco and crossed 13 states. The original highway was 3,389 miles long. It was mostly replaced by the currently designated Interstate 80.

One use of a map of the Interstate Highway system for genealogists may not be very obvious. A map of the Interstate Highway system shows that the highways roughly follow the historic wagon roads and thereby indicate the overall migration patterns of the United States. This can be dramatically seen in the juxtaposition of the Beale Wagon road of 1857, Historic Route 66, the BNSF Railroad (formerly the Santa Fe Railroad), and Interstate 40:

The faint line in between Interstate 40 and Historic Route 66 is the old Beale Wagon Road and it is still visible as a wagon track across the desert. It is extremely important to understand how and why people moved from place to place in any country. Researching your ancestors and other relatives involves finding documents and the only way you can find documents is to know where to look. If you have a person who appears in the record in California, unless they spoke Spanish, they came from somewhere else. The essence of learning about and making progress in genealogical research is discovering where to look for records. Migration patterns are one consistently helpful clue in tracking down elusive ancestors.

Here are links to the previous Case Studies:

Case #1:
Case #2:
Case #3:
Case #4:
Case #5:
Case #6:
Case #7:
Case #8:
Case #9:

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