National Old Trails Road Tour

Few people know the backstory to America’s first “coast to coast” highway which pre-dates route 66. The tale actually began 14 years before route 66 with the establishment of The National Old Trails Road . Here is a historical snapshot of how it all happened. Over the last 115 years there have been several “coast to coast” automobile routes contemplated and abandoned as our nation’s infrastructure developed but there is one road however that remains an icon, and predates the venerable route 66 by more than 20 years. Its called the National Old Trails Road and its so named because it stitched several “old trails” of the country together to form one continuous thread from New York to Los Angeles.

The National Old Trails Road, also known as the Ocean-to-Ocean Highway, was established in 1912, and became part of the National Auto Trail system in the United States. It was 3,096 miles (4,983 km) long and stretched from Baltimore, Maryland to California. (some old maps indicate New York City was the actual eastern terminus).

The road is a compilation of three other iconic trade routes.

1. The National road which went from the Potomac river to the Ohio river and was the very first actual road “constructed” by the US Government.

2. The Santa Fe Trail which went from St. Louis Missouri to Santa Fe New Mexico.

3. The Old Spanish Trail which went from Santa Fe to Los Angeles

The picture on the right side of your screen is the cover of the Auto Club of Americas 1926 edition “guidebook” to the roadways of America, and the three trails mentioned above became Old Trails Road, which in large part became Route 66, but sections of it still exist and the goal for our expedition is to locate and explore these remaining fragments of the original “Old Trails Road”.

As we travel, we’re going to snoop around looking for fun stuff, and one item of interest will be the original “Madonna’s of the trail” which were built and located in each state that the road traveled through. The Madonna’s are like the “patron Saints” of the old roads which date all the way back to the pioneers who traveled the same routes in their covered wagons. A Madonna of the Trail is a pinkish, stony-faced pioneer Mom, in long dress and bonnet, strutting westward with a rifle on one arm, an infant on the other. The Madonna’s were a project of the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution. They were erected in 1928-29, strung along the National Old Trails Road, now mostly US 40. The sites were chosen with the help of the president of the National Old Trails Road Association, a then-little-known Missouri Justice of the Peace named Harry S Truman.

The old trail, and route 66 are littered with cool and funky relics of the past. We’ll stop at many of them (if only to take a picture) and move on and perhaps daydream a bit about the history and meaning of the highway that opened America to the automobile (or motorbike).

This is a camping trip – beginning at RawHyde. Bring everything you need to be comfortable camping and a luggage truck will accompany us on the trip. You won’t have to carry it while you ride.

Friday April 8th: Arrive at RawHyde for your training class if it fits your schedule

Monday April 11th – depart RawHyde for the NOTR.

All meals and camping fee’s will be covered for you during the tour.

The trip will be 5 days in length and will end either in Santa Fe or Albuquerque NM. We will part company in Albuquerque on the morning of the 16th to head home.

The cost of the trip is $1995, including all meals and camping fees. Bike rental is not included. Dates are April 11 – 16.



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