Progressive Era to New Era Blue Book

Blue Book

Many drivers utilize GPS navigation systems to find their way around, having abandoned printed highway road maps. Prior to the maps, travelers used the Official Automobile Blue Book to find their way through unfamiliar territory. Publication of these early road guides commenced around 1912. For the most part, directions were given in a written format with mile points; the volumes contained few maps. The 1918 Blue Book routed southbound travelers from Dumfries to Fredericksburg:

Mile point 37.9—Dumfries, at stores. Straight thru.

Mile point 38.0—Caution, 4-corners; turn left with travel.

Mile point 38.4—Right-hand road, wood house ahead on right; turn right upgrade.

Mile point 39.5—Fork, small store in center; bear right onto new short-cut.

Mile point 40.5—End of road; bear left across culvert thru the Chopawamsic Swamp.

Mile point 47.2—Right hand road; turn right.

Mile point 48.2—Garrisonville, end of road. Turn left with travel.

Mile point 52.5—End of road, small store on left; turn left with travel.

Mile point 54.8—Mountainview, diagonal 4-corners. Straight thru.

Mile point 59.5—End of road; turn right with travel. Caution for ford 60.7. Follow winding road.

Mile point 62.6—End of road, wooden church on left; turn left.

Mile point 62.8—Falmouth. Straight thru. Cross long iron bridge over Rappahannock River 62.9.

Mile point 63.0—End of road; turn left onto Main St.

Two interesting features of these directions include use of the spelling “Chopawamsic” and the routing of drivers up Garrisonville Road. What we know today as U. S. Route 1 had not been built when this road guide was published. The Telegraph Road did exist, though parts of it were not always in passable condition. The early twentieth century road guides were published by a company based in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. For some reason, the writers commenced using the “Chopawamsic” spelling rather than the much earlier “Chappawamsic.” This newer spelling continues in use on official highway markers and maps.

  1. S Route 1 through Stafford was constructed in the early 1920s. Over the next twenty years, the rapid growth in the numbers of vehicles using the roads quickly necessitated widening Route 1 to four lanes. Vehicular traffic provided business opportunities and almost immediately an assortment of filling stations, garages, restaurants, and tourist accommodations appeared.

Featured picture is the Martin-Sherwyn Motor Court as it appeared in October 1945. This stood on the east side of Route 1 and across that road from the Aquia Auto Repair Center.