Sunday, July 10, 2011

Historical Highways

I mentioned I liked roads.  Another specific category of books on the history of particular roads.  




1.  First Highways of America: A Pictorial History of American Roads and Highways from 1900-1925, John Butler (1994).   A history of the dirt-rock-to-pavement of America's early roads.  Fantastic black and white pictures of early cars, road construction and landscapes.  Bought new.  




2.  Coast to Coast by Automobile: The Pioneering Trips, 1899-1908, Curt McConnell (2000).  A collection of early automobile adventures across the the U.S.  The appendix includes a great chronology of early automobile trips.  Bought new.    


Coast to Coast by Automobile: The Pioneering Trips, 1899-1908


3.  U.S. 1: America's Original Main Street, Andrew Malcolm, Photographs by Roger Straus III (1991).    Sometimes called America's original Main Street running from Main to Key West.  First half stark black and white photographs; the second half a narrative of short histories.  Bought new.  




4.  The National Road, Edited by Karl Raitz (1996).  A history of America's first federally planned highway.   Orginally established by an act of Congress in 1808, the road originates from Maryland, crosses the Appalachians into the Midwest.  Based on Indian trials and pioneer tracks.  Provides a full history back up my maps and photographs.  Bought used at the Raven bookstore in Amherst, Mass.  






5.  U.S. 40 Today: Thirty Years of Landscape Change in America, Thomas Vale and Geraldine Vale (1983).   More on the National Road but a specific slice in time.   Thirty years well contrast by black and white photographs from the same locations--sometimes with the same tree in the shot.  Bought used at State Department book store. 



U.S. 40 Today: Thirty Years of Landscape Change in America


6.  Western Images: Western Landscapes - Travels Along U.S. 89, Thomas Vale and Geraldine Vale (1989).  Written by two geographers who traveled U.S. 89 from Nogales, Arizona to the northern end at Piegan, Montana.   Accompanied by black and white pictures.  Bought new.   









Friday, July 1, 2011

The American Road

Before there's the American dream of owning a home--there's the dream of driving cross country.   The ancient Greeks had the Odyssey, modern Americans have roads to drive and a continent to cross.  Driving from Washington to Seattle, down the Pacific coast and back along the southern route was a personal milestone.  Everyone should do it once.  My grandfather did it in 1919 and I did it in 1988.  The experience guided my book buying.  In honor of the Fourth, here are some of my books on the great American right of passage. 


1.  On the Road, Jack Kerouac (1957).   My only fiction in the group but it had to be included.  Captures the spirit of driving cross country and ends with a homage to the dark fields of the Republic.   Bought new.






2.  Cross Country: Fifteen Years and 90,000 miles on the Roads and Interstates of American..., Robert Sullivan (2006).  A greatest hits collection of all the best cross country driving stories.  Sullivan himself drove country two dozen times before writing this book.  Bought new. 

 Cross Country: Fifteen Years and 90,000 Miles on the Roads and Interstates of America with Lewis and Clark, a lot of bad motels, a moving van, Emily ... kids, and enough coffee to kill an elephant

3.  Roads: Driving America's Great Highways, Larry McMurtry (2000).  Best known for his dozens of western novels, McMurtry put his prodigious writing skills to work.  McMurtry drives multiple routes, east to west and north to south but what is endearing is that he ignores I-95.  Bought new. 


Roads : Driving America's Great Highways 

4.  Americans on the Road: From Autocamp to Motel, 1910-1945, Warren James Belasco (1981).  A historical study of how the earliest Americans traveled across country.  Intended to use it as research for my own cross country manuscript, Ten Cent Trail.  Bought used but can't remember where. 


Americans on the Road: From Autocamp to Motel, 1910-1945 

5.  Open Road: A Celebration of the American Highway, Phil Patton (1986).  Half historical study, half celebration of American love of cross country driving.  Bought used at the State Department book store.

 
6.  Divided Highways: Building the Interstate Highways, Transforming American Life, Tom Lewis (1997).   In 1919, Colonel Dwight Eisenhower lead an Army convoy cross country.  Over thirty years later, he lead the effort to build the largest engineered structure ever built--the U.S. Interstate Highway system.  Bought new.

Divided Highways: Building the Interstate Highways, Transforming American Life 

7.  Overland by Auto in 1913: Diary of a Family Tour from California to Indiana, Estella M. Copeland (1981).   An individual account of the challenges of driving across country when it was mostly wagon trails.  Bought used from an antique story in Warrenton, VA.


8.  The Distance to the Moon: A Road Trip into the American Dream, James Morgan (1999).   New ways to slice and dice the cross country experience--Morgan drives across country in a Porsche.  Just wish this book had a map of the author's route.  Bought used at BJ's Books in Warrenton, VA.

The Distance to the Moon: A Road Trip into the American Dream 

9.  Through Painted Desert: Light and Beauty on the Open Road, Donald Miller (2005).   In my reading pile so no review yet.  I do know that Miller crosses country in a VW camping van.  Bought used but can't remember where.



Through Painted Deserts: Light, God, and Beauty on the Open Road