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U.S. 22 - The William Penn Highway
When the Joint Board on Interstate Highways issued its report in October 1925, the U.S. numbered highway system included U.S. 22:
From Elizabeth, New Jersey, Phillipsburg, Reading, Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, Clarks Ferry, Bellefonte, Dubois, New Castle, Youngstown, Ohio, Cleveland.
The William Penn Highway
A portion of this road east of Clarks Ferry coincided with the William Penn Highway. The William Penn Highway Association of Pennsylvania had been organized on March 27, 1916, when 650 road boosters from along the proposed route met in an auditorium in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The goal was a road paralleling the Pennsylvania Railroad and an alternative to the Lincoln Highway between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The association also adopted a New York Extension (via Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton in Pennsylvania, and Phillipsburg, Hackettstown, Morristown, Newark, and Jersey City in New Jersey) and a Baltimore-Washington Extension (departing the main route at Harrisburg). As a November 1916 brochure explained, the association's aim was "the permanentization of an arterial road system in Pennsylvania generally, and the William Penn Highway in particular."
The William Penn Highway also served as the Pennsylvania branch of the Pikes Peak Ocean to Ocean (PPOO) Highway. The PPOO Highway had been organized on March 18, 1914, at a meeting in St. Joseph, Missouri, to promote improvement and use of a road from New York City to San Francisco. Initially, the eastern PPOO Highway followed the National Old Trails Road through Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore, Cumberland, Wheeling, Columbus, Dayton, and Indianapolis. However, in February 1916, the PPOO Highway Association decided to adopt an independent alignment east of Indianapolis, Indiana. The March 1916 issue of The Road-Maker described the activities:
(See www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/pikes.cfm for additional information on the PPOO Highway.)
Pennsylvania Rejects the Plan
The Joint Board's recommendations were turned over to the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) for approval. A year later, after many changes at the request of State highway officials, AASHO approved the numbering plan on November 11, 1926. As near as can be determined, the approved routing of U.S. 22 in Pennsylvania was:
The routing closely followed the William Penn Highway. The list included Pennsylvania routings for six branches of U.S. 22: 122, 222, 322, 422, 522, and 622.
Prior to November 11, 1926, AASHO had added several routes to the U.S. numbered system at the request of William H. Connell, Pennsylvania's Engineering Executive and Deputy Secretary of Highways. Connections with Ohio and West Virginia were modified. Adjustments were made in some routes (Meadville via Linesville to Ohio was changed to Meadville via Hartstown, Jamestown, and Simons to Ohio) and others added (Wyalusing to New Milford and Kingsley to Carbondale).
Despite this involvement, Pennsylvania objected soon after AASHO approved the U.S. numbered highway plan. In a letter on January 28, 1927, Connell informed John N. Mackall, Chairman of the Maryland State Roads Commission, that he harbored concerns about the U.S. numbering plan for the State. Pennsylvania's letter is not available, but Mr. Mackall's February 12 characterized Connell's comments as surprising in view of his supportive comments in Detroit during AASHO's annual meeting in December 1925. During the session, E. W. James, Chief of Design of the Bureau of Public Roads (BPR) and Secretary of the Joint Board on Interstate Highways, had presented the Joint Board's report to AASHO for action:
I had understood from what you said at Detroit that if a system satisfactory to you could be worked out by the Bureau that you would [support it], and I note that the Bureau has done everything that we wanted and assume everything you wanted. I know that they have a very genuine desire to cooperate. We have adopted the Federal numbers and are numbering our State roads in conjunction with the Federal numbers, and I would like, if possible, to have had them coordinated with your number system, but since you are not adopting the Federal system, there seems no possibility of this. The situation is unfortunate, but I assume does not seriously make any difference one way or the other.
Mackall's letter suggests that State line connections were Pennsylvania's concern. As Mackall knew, State line connections had been resolved with difficulty. James, in his remarks in Detroit, had cited State line disputes involving Pennsylvania as examples of how the Joint Board had used "intelligent and thoughtful handing at every turn" to resolve such disputes:
To support this point, there may be mentioned the fact that a difference of opinion regarding a Maryland-Pennsylvania connection was settled by reference to definite traffic data available from three sources. Another adjustment was made between Maryland and Delaware on the basis of the changing demand of seasonal traffic conditions. A connection between Philadelphia and Trenton was made on the basis of the future type of traffic and definite purpose of the State Highway Department of the Keystone State to throw truck traffic to one road and light traffic to the other.
But in early 1927, Pennsylvania's concerns did not involve State line connections. On February 15, Connell wrote to Chief Thomas H. MacDonald of the BPR to forward copies of the Maryland-Pennsylvania correspondence and ask for a meeting with James "to see whether something cannot be done to arrange for one Federal number for our principal through routes. For example, the Susquehanna Trail has four numbers." Defensively, Connell added, "I have been too busy with other things to take this matter up, up to the present time."
Pennsylvania's Named Highways
Connell's concern, therefore, related to routes the State had designated by name. In 1923, a State law had been enacted that gave the Secretary of Highways the sole authority to name or number Pennsylvania's roads. The idea was to prevent controversies among rival communities on the routing of named highways that previously had been designated by private trail associations.
The initial naming of highways was announced on April 26, 1924. A press release explained:
The number 1, for example, would be applied to the Lincoln Highway.
The named routes designated at this time were the Lincoln Highway, William Penn Highway, Lackawanna Trail, Susquehanna Trail, Roosevelt Highway, Lakes-to-Sea Highway, National Pike, Baltimore Pike, and the Chicago-Buffalo Highway. The news release described the William Penn Highway, which would become Route 3, as:
From Easton through Allentown, Reading, Lebanon, Harrisburg, Liverpool, Lewistown, Reedsville, Mill Creek, Huntingdon, Water Street, Hollidaysburg, Cresson, Ebensburg and Blairsville to Pittsburgh.
The release also described the route cited in Connell's letter, the Susquehanna Trail. It was part of a route from Buffalo, New York, to Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. In Pennsylvania, it ran from the Maryland State line near Shrewsbury through York, Harrisburg, Dauphin, Clarks Ferry, Selinsgrove, Sunbury, Muncy, Williamsport, Mansfield, and Lawrence to the New York State line. It would be designated Pennsylvania Route 4.
Adjusting Pennsylvania's System
For E. W. James and the Joint Board, one of the guiding principles had been that the routing of named highways would not be honored, in part because of the desire to end the named trail associations. Another factor was that associations often had routed the trails through towns that were willing to pay dues, rather than over the best or most direct route.
By contrast, Pennsylvania (which had not been one of the States represented on the Joint Board) wanted to retain a single number for each of its officially designated named trails. The records in AASHO's file do not indicate whether Pennsylvania had been concerned about the numbers applied to its highways prior to November 11, 1926, or why Connell became concerned in 1927. Subsequent events suggest he had been more concerned about the routes included in the plan rather than the numbers assigned to them. A logical assumption would be that the State's trail associations brought the numbers to his attention.
James was out of town at the time of Connell's letter to MacDonald and would not be available for a meeting with Pennsylvania's highway officials until he returned in early March. The issue, therefore, dragged on for a couple of weeks.
On February 16, Connell replied to Mackall to clarify the issues:
The following day, AASHO's Executive Secretary, W. C. Markham, wrote to each State highway department to request approval of the detailed listing of its U.S. highway network prior to publication of a national log in AASHO's magazine, American Highways:
This is supposed to be a complete and correct description of these roads. It is sent to you in order that you may give it a careful checking as to errors and that you may add additional names of towns, making a fuller description of the roads, if you so desire . . . . We want this description to be complete in every respect so that State governments, map makers, automobile clubs, or any other organizations which may wish to use them will have from the State Highway Departments something complete and definite.
Markham indicated that unless a response had been received by March 10, AASHO would "take it for granted that it is complete and correct."
Markham was surprised to receive a February 25 letter from Connell declining to approve Pennsylvania's U.S. numbered highways, but indicating he hoped to provide a decision by March 10. On March 11, he informed Markham by telegram that the U.S. highway descriptions for Pennsylvania were disapproved.
The next day, Markham replied in a one-and-a-half page letter to Connell's telegram. The letter reflected Markham's surprise and frustration:
With the assistance of three other persons I have spent over a month in preparing a written description of these routes. There has been a great demand for a proper description of these routes and it is going to make it positively necessary that the next issue of "American Highways" contain this description. I do not with [sic] to have the description show that there are no numbers passing through Pennsylvania.
Rather than leave Pennsylvania out, he said he was considering abbreviated descriptions, such as:
No. 1 From Maine to Florida
If it came to that, he would include a statement "that additional roads in Pennsylvania have been added, but full description of numbers not yet approved." He pointed out that the numbers could be resolved when AASHO's Executive Committee met in Chicago on May 28. As for now, he had to put the descriptions "in the hands of the printer by next Tuesday, as I am already some days behind in getting out this work."
While writing his letter, Markham was not aware that James had met on March 11 and 12 in Harrisburg with Connell and W. A. Van Duzer, Deputy Engineering Executive for the Pennsylvania Department of Highways, to work out the numbering problems. During the meeting, James, Van Duzer, and Connell used a map of Pennsylvania's Federal-aid highway system on which the U.S. numbers had been printed. The map, which was marked to show the agreed changes, is still in AASHO's files.
A handwritten note by James on the map explained:
The numbers in blue were adjusted with Mr. Van Duzer and were satisfactory to Mr. Connell-3-11 and 12, 1927. Mr. Connell stipulated only that certain routes in Pa. be continuous. The identity of numbers did not especially interest him.
The markings indicate that U.S. 22 through Pennsylvania was not changed, although some of its branches were altered.
Upon learning of the meetings, Markham immediately sent a telegram to Connell on March 14:
Disregard my letter. Will use road descriptions agreed on by you and James Saturday.
Van Duzer confirmed the agreements in a March 21 letter to Markham.
On March 24, James forwarded a complete map to Connell reflecting the adjustments made on March 11 and 12. In preparing the map, James had to make "one or two modifications which in no way affect the continuity of route, as you desire, but which were found to be necessary to avoid duplication of numbers in use elsewhere." The changes involved three-digit branch routes. Connell accepted the adjustments by letter to James on March 30.
More Pennsylvania Problems
Accordingly, the April 1927 issue of American Highways contained the log of U.S. highways, including U.S. 22 (spelling here and in later logs as in the original):
The log, which was reprinted in pamphlet form, listed U.S. 22 as 490 miles long.
By May, Pennsylvania was expressing continued dissatisfaction with the numbering plan, in this case involving U.S. 19. Secretary of Highways James L. Stuart advised Markham that Pennsylvania "would not care to purchase" additional copies of the U.S. numbering pamphlet until U.S. 19 was adjusted. Markham, as late as May 31, had still not received the desired adjustment, but offered to include it in a reprint of the pamphlet.
Stuart finally provided the desired changes in U.S. 19, as well as minor corrections to the State's listings, on June 7. The desired U.S. 19 adjustment involved taking advantage of a shorter road between Pittsburgh and Erie (via Edinboro, Meadville, Mercer, Portersville, Zelienople, Pittsburgh, Washington, and Wayneburg). The proposed routing followed the Perry Highway, conceived in 1917 by good roads advocates in Pittsburgh to honor Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. During the War of 1812, Commodore Perry had left Pittsburgh in April 1813 for a journey to Lake Erie, where he commanded the American fleet during its surprising victory against a British fleet on September 10, 1813.
Stuart also asked for a change involving the Benjamin Franklin Highway, which had been conceived in Findlay, Ohio, in 1926 as a way of linking State highways from Philadelphia to Omaha, Nebraska:
It is also desired that that the Benjamin Franklin Highway, through Philadelphia, Norristown, Reading, Lebanon, Harrisburg, Clarks Ferry, Mifflintown, Lewistown, Huntingdon, Hollidaysburg, Ebensburg, Indiana, Butler and New Castle, be recognized by changing the U.S. number between Philadelphia and Reading, 120 to 422.
At the time, U.S. 120 was a 315-mile route from Philadelphia via Reading, Pottsville, Sunbury, Muncy, Williamsport, Lock Haven, Emporium to Ridgeway. During the March 1927 meeting with James, Pennsylvania had agreed to the approved routing of U.S. 422 from Ebensburg via Indiana, Kittanning, Butler, and New Castle, to the Ohio State line (thence to Cleveland, Ohio).
The minor corrections included a slight change in the description of U.S. 22:
There is an error in the spelling of the name "Mifflintown." There should be no "e" between the "n" and the "t." Substitute "Clarks Ferry" for "Duncannon" and "North Star" for "Imperial."
Stuart's proposed changes were forwarded to James, who objected on June 10 to the revision of U.S. 19 because it "involves a complete relocation of this route north of Pittsburgh, and does not follow in the main the federal aid highway system." He also objected to other changes, including the revision involving the Benjamin Franklin Highway:
Changing the number of Route 120 to 422 involves changing the number of Route 22 from Reading through Harrisburg, Clark's Ferry, Mifflintown, Lewistown, Huntingdon, Hollidaysburg to Ebensburg. Route 422 extends from Ebensburg through Indiana, Kittaning and Butler to the Ohio Line . . . . Route 22 is a through line from Elizabeth through Philipsburgh and Reading to the West Virginia-Pennsylvania line near Paris, and it also continues in Ohio to a junction with Route 40. If the proposed change is made, it will leave Route 22 disconnected between Ebensburg and Reading and necessitate the use of three digit numbers in the two ends. [Spelling as in the original.]
James, in short, objected to having two disconnected stretches of U.S. 422, one in the east (Philadelphia to Reading) and one in the west (Ebensburg to the Ohio line). In his view, "422" would have to replace "22" between Reading and Ebensburg, leaving the eastern and western ends of U.S. 22 as branches requiring three digits.
On June 14, Markham informed Stuart that many of the requested changes, including the rerouting of U.S. 19, would be made in the pamphlet, but others were inconsistent with the numbering policy. In the case of the Ben Franklin Highway, Markham explained:
You will notice in response to the third paragraph of your letter, requesting that No. 120 from Philadelphia to Reading be changed to No. 422; that we have changed No. 120 to read, "Beginning at Reading via Pottsville, Sunbury, Muncy, Williamsport, Lock Heaven, Emporium to Ridgway", and No. 422 to read, "Beginning at Philadelphia via Norristown to Reading, and beginning again at Ebensburg via Indian Kittanning, Butler, New Castle to the Pennsylvania-Ohio State line at New Bedford". This makes a gap in No. 422 from Reading to Ebensburg, which distance is covered by U.S. No. 22 - an interstate route. Because of the policy adopted by the Executive Committee at a recent meeting in Chicago, copy of which I am herewith enclosing, we are unable to change this number in order to make No. 422 a continuous route. Under the circumstance, do you still wish the section of No. 120 from Philadelphia to Reading changed to No. 422?
By letter and telegram on June 16, Stuart reaffirmed his wish to change U.S. 120 from Philadelphia to Reading to U.S. 422. He added, "In fact the remarks of the second paragraph of your letter correspondence exactly with our wishes." AASHO included the routing for U.S. 422 in the second U.S. numbered highway log, published in 1929 (the figure following each city is the distance to the next city):
UNITED STATES HIGHWAY NO. 422
Pennsylvania Beginning at Philadelphia 20, Norristown 37, Reading. Beginning again at Ebensburg 30, Indiana 28, Kittanning 21, Butler 28, New Castle 12, New Bedford 8.
The Moving Highway
On November 8, 1930, Mr. Fred L. Shankweiler, president of the backing organization for the William Penn Highway, wrote to Markham:
Markham replied on November 10 that highway numbering would not come up during the annual meeting in Pittsburgh. He referred Shankweiler to Pennsylvania highway officials because AASHO did not concern itself with the naming of highways.
Shankweiler received no comfort from the State. On June 3, 1931, Chief Engineer Samuel Eckels informed Markham of several desired changes in Pennsylvania's U.S. numbered highways. One of the changes involved U.S. 22:
I am calling your particular attention to Route 22 between Harrisburg and Allentown, familiarly known in the State of Pennsylvania as the William Penn Highway. We have constructed a new route between Allentown and Harrisburg which is probably the highest speed road in our entire State and is used by practically all through traffic over the William Penn Highway between Harrisburg and Allentown.
Eckels was awaiting approval from Secretary of Highways S. S. Lewis, but approval was expected "and if included in our recommendation be assured that this is the one route in which we are most vitally interested." Lewis approved the change and joined Eckels in a letter to Markham on June 4 with specific changes affecting U.S. 22, U.S. 222, U.S. 422, and other routes unrelated to U.S. 22.
On June 8, 1931, AASHO's Executive Committee approved the changes in Pennsylvania that altered the routing of U.S. 22:
Although Shankweiler's requests on behalf of the William Penn Highway were not granted in Pennsylvania, at least one of its requests was approved. The route was also altered in Ohio:
U.S. 22, Ohio U.S., 22 is extended from Cambridge to Cincinnati and the route is described as follows: Cambridge, via Zanesville, Somerset, Lancaster, Circleville, Washington Court House Wilmington, Morrow, Montgomery to Cincinnati.
The new route description of the 660-mile U.S. 22 was printed in the 1932 log:
UNITED STATES HIGHWAY NO. 22
The Pennsylvania Department of Highways, in keeping with its authority to name highways, shifted the designation "William Penn Highway" to the new routing of U.S. 22.
Ben Franklin Highway
The Ben Franklin Highway Association was still trying to enhance the credibility of its route by securing U.S. numbers for segments presently carried on State routes. On November 10, 1932, Eckels informed Markham that Pennsylvania "will not object" to a proposal by the Ohio State Highway Department to assign a U.S. number to the Ben Franklin Highway from New Castle, Pennsylvania, to Huntington, Indiana.
On June 8, 1933, Eckels wrote again to Markham on this matter, but gave the letter to John H. Williamson of Findlay, Ohio, to present in person. "We have had considerable correspondence with the various states relative to the extension of U.S. Route 422 from the Pennsylvania State line through Ohio to Huntington, Indiana. We have previously indicated our interest in the extension of this route and look with a great deal of interest to the time when it will be extended westward."
After meeting with Findlay, Markham responded to Eckels on June 9 to express puzzlement about the change. "Do you mean by this that you will abandon present U.S. 422 from New Castle to Cleveland?" The Executive Committee also questioned the proposal because the route closely paralleled U.S. 30 in Ohio, and was over 40 miles longer than U.S. 30 between Philadelphia and Van Wert, Ohio. Markham, therefore, planned to contact Ohio officials to see if they still desired to have the road numbered.
Eckels clarified the situation on June 13. He informed Markham that Pennsylvania favored extending the Benjamin Franklin Highway west, but did not favor abandoning U.S. 422 from New Castle to Cleveland. He added:
Mr. Williamson confirms what I have already heard a great many times and which up to the present time I had passed off without any comment, that is that you seriously object to the number of United State highways in Ohio and Pennsylvania. He further states that you contend that the Pennsylvania and Ohio Highway Departments have made more requests for United States routes than the other states. I regret very much if these requests have caused you too much work and annoyance.
AASHO's files do not contain a response by Markham regarding whether he was annoyed by the requests from Ohio and Pennsylvania. However, on June 22, 1933, he informed Secretary Lewis and officials in Ohio and Indiana that the Executive Committee had approved U.S. designation for the Ben Franklin Highway. The extension was assigned U.S. 224 based on its intersection with U.S. 24 at Huntington, Indiana.
Whatever Markham's attitude, it did not discourage Pennsylvania. Even with a new Secretary and Chief Engineer in place following a change in Governor, the State continued to pepper AASHO with numbering changes and requests for new designations.
U.S. 22 Permutations
Pennsylvania, via Chief Engineer H. H. Temple, contacted Markham on June 19, 1936, to request a change involving U.S. 22:
Markham wrote on July 20, 1937, to inform Secretary of Highways Warren Van Dyke that the Executive Committee had rejected the change because alternate routing is no longer established, " but the Committee suggests that they will be pleased to approve a change in U.S. 22 via Lewistown, Reedsville to Millcreek, eliminating present U.S. 22 between Lewistown and Mr. [sic] Union, since U.S. 522 is already from Lewistown to Mt. Union.
This change was not adopted.
On January 14, 1938, the Delaware River Joint Toll Commission opened the first of its seven toll bridges, the Easton-Phillipsburg Toll Bridge, across the Delaware River. The new four-lane structure resulted in a shift of U.S. 22 onto a new approach east of Easton. AASHO approved U.S. 22 Alternate along the former roadway of the U.S. highway from the river to Allentown. The 22-mile long route first appeared in the log published in 1942 (the first log since 1939):
The 1942 log of U.S. 22 described the 665-mile route, with a shift in the eastern terminus:
UNITED STATES HIGHWAY NO. 22
As had been the case throughout the history of U.S. 22, the designation would be shifted onto improved highways as they were completed. For example, during AASHO's annual meeting on November 9-13, 1953, the following change was approved in Pennsylvania:
Relocation via Penn-Lincoln Parkway from junction of present US 22 in Wilkinsburg vicinity via Penn-Lincoln Parkway through Pittsburgh to a junction with present US 22 west of Pittsburgh near the community of Gayly. (Note: This location essentially double with US 30, the eastern end of the change being the only difference.)
During AASHO's annual meeting on November 9-11, 1954, Pennsylvania's requests involving U.S. 22 and U.S. 22 Alternate were approved:
In the years since then, U.S. 22 has continued to move onto improved alignments. The route is listed as 662 miles long in the most recent log (1989) published by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. The termini remain Newark, New Jersey, and Cincinnati, Ohio.
For information on how U.S. 22 affected the Blue Star Memorial Highways, see www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/blue01.cfm. The Pennsylvania Highways website (http://www.pahighways.com/USHwys) contains extensive information on the routing of U.S. 22 over the years.
This page last modified on 04/07/11