Yesterday I discovered an amazing thing - the Official Automobile Blue Book series of road guides, published between 1901 and 1929. The 1920 volumes Sold for $3 each. (would be roughly $37 today.) These guides were released in several volumes a year, each volume being specific to a region of the USA (and some of Canada.) And fortunately for my current purposes, the internet archive has a digital scan of 1920's Volume 7 - "Showing main highways in ... Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona..." (plus a bunch of other states but not Nevada or California)(Unfortunately although I see an advertisement for a cross-country tour guide volume, which my people may also have used, I don't see any scanned in copies available. That's okay. What I've got now is amazing enough!)
These books must have been heavy, volume 7 is over 800 pages long!
There are some over-view maps and state by state maps, maps for big enough cities, "points of interest" blurbs, advertisements for tools, garages and hotels (Hotel McCabe, in North Platte, Nebraska is "Absolutely Fireproof" and has hot and cold running water in all rooms, prices $1 and up.) which is all pretty familiar, format-wise to a road-tripping gal who grew up before GPS and smartphones throttled the AAA tourbook, but also,
It's quite amazing - the guides give very detailed turn by turn directions... (like you would get from your GPS, if you had GPS, only less insistent and creepy!) I am finding this actually quite fascinating... the routes are from city (or town) to the next city or town...and the guides give different route numbers and reverse directions depending on which way you're travelling...
(This route appears to be the only route in the guide into Flagstaff from the east.)
(The guides use a lot of mileage markers, despite the fact that odometers were not yet standard to most cars, but odometers could apparently be added after market. )
"Route 540, from Winslow to Flagstaff-64.8 miles
Gravelly dirt and dirt roads, with about 10 miles of rocky surface. The route traverses an uninteresting prairie country and a timbered area east of Flagstaff. Note (a) furnishes an option from mileage 48.8 to Flagstaff via the Cliff Dwellings, with about equal road conditions.
Winslow, 2nd street and Kinsley Ave, bank on left. Go west on 2nd street. Cross RR 0.3
0.9 End of road, turn right along high board fence.
1.2 End of road, turn left along fence. Avoid left hand road 1.9 (Left at 1.9 leads to Sunset Pass)
6.9 Left-hand road ; turn left along RR. Thru cattle guards 9.6 19.4 Avoid left hand diagonal road 19.6
20.8 End of road, turn right, thru cattle guard 22.4
24.4 Fork; bear right
25.5 Fork; bear left Cross concrete bridge over Canyon Diable 27.3 Enter timber 38.8 Cross concrete bridge over Canyon Padre 39.7
48.8 Fork; just beyond RR pass, bear left (left-hand road just before RR underpass is note a to prehistoric cliff dwellings in walnut canyon, rejoining this route at mile at mileage 61.3)
49.2 End of road; turn left
54.8 Fork at fence corner; bear left Cross RR 59.7- 64.6 (sharp right at 58.1 is route 541 to Grand Canyon
64.8 FLAGSTAFF, sta. on left. (Garages - Babbitt's Garage, San Francisco St, diagonally opp. C.H.)" ( I don't know what a C.H. is right now, but there's probably an explanation somewhere.)
Notations for route a to cliff dwellings include "dirt road - cross logging RR - the tourist must leave his car at the station (what station? a ranger station?) and proceed on foot to reach the dwellings"...)
Now one of the things that I have to contemplate in regards to my book, is that a more direct line from OKC to LA (the family ended their journey in Pasadena) via Pheonix (going through Pheonix seems to have been the only option at the time, I don't see anything resembling a proto- I-40 route) seems to have existed, that did not pass within 100 miles of Flagstaff, so why the diversion to Flagstaff? The parents must have heard there was work up there!
The internet archive doesn't have every year and every region of this guide series but I'm writing this note in case anyone else is ever looking for historical directions, it might
be possible to find information on the internet archive by searching for this series of books! Or you might be able to....actually buy one of these books! (I'm contemplating a purchase from AbeBooks because physical copies are so much more tactile and creatively inspiring then digital. I'll be able to know for sure
how heavy the guide was, how easy it was to work with on the go...(the transcontintal guide is availible for sale through Abebooks but it's over 100$, no thanks! Volume 7 i might be able to get for $40. I could do that. I just find it amazing that this guide series is out there, and wanted to share!
P.S. another thing I've learned - The Michelin Man has been around for a long time!