Historic US Route 20

20_PostcardThe federal highway that is the longest in the United States was developed well before the Interstate system. That is Route 20, which starts in Boston, Massachusetts and ends in Newport, Oregon.

About three years ago, a fellow named Bryan T. Farr decided to drive the length of the highway, which he found to be quite beautiful, as he trekked through a dozen states. After he returned, he took no action about this experience for over a year, but he realized that he had to either do something with the hundreds of photos he took, or move on.

He ended up starting The Historic US Route 20 Association Inc., a 501 (c)3 non profit, educational organization. Moreover, he wrote a book, Historic US Route 20. Ambitiously, he decided to make another trip across the country, contacting towns along the way to see if they might be willing to set up some meet-and-greets.

When he got to the Sharon Springs area, the powers that be decided to add him to the schedule of the annual Sharon Springs Garden Party. The intermittent rain held off long enough for him to give his talk on May 24. The Wife and I just happened to be there for the event, and that was the only special talk that day we actually attended.

The next day, we, along with The Daughter, went to the Cherry Valley Museum. Among the factors in its history is the decision by the state in 1952 to have Route 20 bypass the village, which was economically devastating at the time. The Historic US 20 group, not incidentally, is working with locales to provide signage, even if the road was relocated. Later that day, we drove home along much of Route 20, and saw some tornado damage in Duanesburg, Schenectady County from a few days earlier.

I recall that Western Avenue, around Manning Boulevard, began the Great Western Turnpike. And it’s lovely:

US Route 20 is also New York State’s longest highway; 372 miles from the border with Massachusetts to the border of Pennsylvania.
In New York State, 108 miles of Route 20 from Duanesburg (Schenectady County) on the east to LaFayette (Onondaga County) on the west is designated as a New York State Scenic Byway because of its spectacular beauty and unique history to the westward migration of the state and the nation.

The First Presbyterian Church in Cherry Valley is the first church west of the Hudson River to have services in English, I only recently discovered on our trip there.

As it it turns out, we live only a couple blocks from Route 20 in Albany. I thought it would be neat if some of the merchants on Western Avenue and Madison Avenue in Albany, and on Route 20 in East Greenbush, had signs in their windows signifying that they are part of something greater.

4 thoughts on “Historic US Route 20”

  1. This sounds like a heavenly stretch of road, kind of like one of the items on my bucket list, taking Route 66, which has a bad rap of late… one of my friends said that every town was wildly eccentric. He never knew what to expect, from live music at the breakfast cafe to a horse-drawn carriage!

    I am always disappointed when the Powers That Be decide to skirt towns with “newer, better, faster.” All that means is that someone’s brother-in-law needed the contract!

    Loved this, Roger. Thanks as always, Amy


  2. I live less than a quarter mile from US 20…and the place we just vacated was also less than a quarter mile from US 20! This road goes through all my favorite parts of the country — the northeast, Buffalo, the Great Lakes and the upper Midwest. Love US 20! (And its smaller cousin, New York’s US 20A, which is my favorite drive in the entire world.)


  3. For sure. I live less than a mile from the current 66 alignment through OKC, and it’s no fun at all until it gets west of me and reverts to old 39th Street. The soulless Interstate in the eastern part of the state (I-44) is also a toll road, so the state has preserved that section of 66 as a state highway.

    I should probably add US 20 to my list of Roads To Finish Completely, along with 52 and 62.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s