The Andrew Turnbull Network

Digging Deeper

About Old Alignments

What is an old alignment, as it pertains to a road or highway? Simply put, an old alignment is something that once existed that no longer has that status. If U.S. 12 used to be routed one way through town, a new road was built, and the U.S. 12 signs were moved to that...or if the signs came down and U.S. 12 was decommissioned entirely...the old route would become an old alignment. An old alignment can go for a few feet, or go halfway across the country. It could have once been an Interstate highway, a county highway, or a turn-of-the-century auto trail, turnpike, or military road. It can still be a busy highway; it can be a frontage road or dead-end stub; it can be a residential street; it can be closed to traffic and literally crumbling into dust...but the common thread is that it used to have more significance than it does today. Sometimes, there are multiple parallel alignments of a given road snaking through the landscape.

[Current and old alignments]

Why are old alignments interesting? Travel by road was a far different experience 50, 75, or 100 years ago. Roads were narrower, curvier, and less often paved; major arterials routinely connected and crossed through city centers; automotive machinery was more primitive; railroads dominated over highways for purposes of freight and long-distance travel. Old alignments offer a glimpse into this past...and offer a chance to uncover a taste of the sights, experiences, and challenges that travelers went through many years ago.

How do you find old alignments?

[USGS map revisions]
[Plymouth, WI area plat]
[Old Route 35]
[Old CTH Q]
[Ogden Avenue]
[Angled old alignment]
[Route 66][Green Bay Ethnic Trail]
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Last update September 7, 2011.