1937 Buick Special

Me and Olivia

Me and Olivia
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Me and "The Hell Bitch"

Me and "The Hell Bitch"
My 50th birthday gift to myself a 2004 Harley she is named after Captain Call's horse on Lonesome Dove.

I Want This Bike!

I Want This Bike!
Me On A 1942 Harley

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Monday, September 24, 2007

The Mother Road of the South Hwy 80

I noticed the other day as I drove down I-20 some new construction work. It made me think back to the first day that I went from Minden to Shreveport on I-20 and not Hwy 80. It’s something that we do everyday now and don’t even think twice about it. But it’s only been a little over 30 or so years that we have had that stretch of I-20 opened. If you think back on it I bet most of you can remember the first time you went to Shreveport on the main highway. My maiden voyage was with my Aunt Ellen. It must have been in the fall or winter months, because I remember we were going to look at something for a possible Christmas gift. I bet a lot of you can remember going down Hwy 80 all the way to Dallas! I still am a huge fan of traveling Hwy 80. Driving this old road is less traffic and not quite as stressful. For others that are riding with me they probably have a different opinion.
Not much remains of the old diners, roadside attractions, and mom and pop motels. These are the things that now lie in the corners of my mind. I remember the Lee’s gift shop on Hwy 80, close to the Army Ammunition Plant. This establishment not only sold concrete statues for your yard but also alligator babies! My cousin Craig once had one of those alligator babies. A baby alligator is not something that you want to turn a kid loose with, especially around a dog. These roadside exhibits are probably the reason that the legends of alligators in the sewer system were born.
If you travel through Gibsland and Arcadia much of these towns remain the same. Once you get into Ruston things change to a more modern look. I like to take Hwy 80 all the way to Monroe. Once in Monroe you can catch an occasional glimpse of time gone by building and faded advertising painted on the side of some long forgotten businesses. One of the things I remember the most were the ice cream and barbeque shacks that we always stopped at in our travels.
Head west on Hwy 80 and follow it into Texas. The same thing you will find a few of the old building left but time has taken its toll on all the old landmarks. You will still find a few if you look hard enough. But the feel is still there. I always take 80 when I head to Marshall or Jefferson.
In the 1920's, automobile use was booming thanks to Henry Ford and the Model T’s of the early car era and the Model A’s of the later 20’s. New models were starting to hit the market. And these cars were affordable for the burgeoning middle class. The Good Roads movement had started in response to bicyclist needs. This movement soon shifted to promoting longer, transcontinental roads for the new automobile owners.

US Highway 80

The Broadway of North America
US 80 was once a transcontinental highway that went from San Diego, CA to Tybee Island, GA. In California it went from US 101 in San Diego to the Arizona Border at Yuma. It is a road of historical note since it includes sections of the first paved road to connect San Diego with points east as well as containing the plank road that took motorists over the Algodones sand dunes east of El Centro as part of its route in 1926. US 80 remained for a longer time than many other California US highways, as it existed until 1974 when the final section of I-8 was completed. Almost all of it is still intact today, looking the same as it did when it still was the only highway heading east from San Diego.

US 80 at a Glance
Original Routing
US 80 was a true transcontinental highway when it was commissioned in 1926 until 1964 when it started to be decommissioned in California. During this time, it went from San Diego, California to Tybee Island, Georgia. Its general route appears to have remained unchanged from its eastern terminus to its current western terminus in Dallas, Texas. From its current western terminus its route follows I-30 (west), to I-20 west to I-10 (west). Its route departs I-10 at Road Forks, New Mexico via New Mexico SR-80 and Arizona SR-80. After it dips down near the Mexican Border at Douglas, Arizona, it goes through Tombstone, site of the duel at the OK Corral. SR-80 rejoins I-10 near Benson, Arizona and follows I-10 to SR-77 at Tucson. To the north, it followed SR-77 to US 60 at Florence Jct, and then followed US 60 to Phoenix. According to Richard Moeur, a section of Van Buren St. at one time was marked US 60/US 70/US 80/US 89 and SR-93. Talk about confusion! The route paralleled I-10 to SR-85, which replaced US 80 south to I-8. Once in California, US 80 followed I-8 to its terminus in San Diego. The original route separates from I-8 following Imperial County S80 and several parallel roads through the mountains. Once in the San Diego area, it followed Main St, El Cajon Blvd, Washington St, SR-163 (former US 395) to Market St, ending at Pacific Hwy (former US 101).
Current Status Outside of California
About half of the transcontinental route of US 80 still exists. Over the past 30 years its western terminus has gone eastward to its current location at I-30 just outside of Dallas, Texas. Arizona, New Mexico and Texas decommissioned most parts in the 1980s. Its eastern terminus remains at Tybee Island on the Atlantic coast of Georgia.
Current Status in California
US 80 was officially decommissioned on July 1, 1964 in favor of I-80 to the north. However, it still remained signed in San Diego and Imperial Counties until the corresponding sections of I-8 were completed. By 1974, all the signs marking US 80 had been taken down and US 80 ceased to exist completely as a signed highway within California. As mentioned before, much of US 80 remain intact throughout its run in California, with only a few miles paved under I-8. Some of the most pristine sections run through the Laguna Mountains and a few good sections remain in the desert. Unfortunately, there are some sections, while shown on maps as through roads, are almost impassable. Generally, the remnants of US 80 can be found near I-8.
US 80 From: Mississippi state line near Delta To: Texas state line W of Greenwood Length in LA: 199 mi Dates Signed in LA: 1926 - present Bannered Routes: Truck US 80 Minden History in LA: 1925: proposed; 1926: assigned
The automobile changed the world and even today the automobile is the dictator of the way America conducts business. If you get the chance take one of America’s older highways. You may see something that will make you smile! Until next time keep it between the ditches.