road maps

The Poole Brothers, Printers of Wisconsin’s Official Highway Maps

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by Judy Aulik

Chicago is known for its “Printers’ Row,” an industrial street which housed several commercial printing firms, one of which was the Poole Brothers. Founder George A. Poole (1843-1916) was originally a partner of William H. Rand and Andrew McNally, but struck out on his own in 1870 along with his brother William. His grandson, George A. Poole III, led the family business after 1930, and was a noted book and manuscript collector.

The Poole Brothers printed some exquisite panoramic view maps, which can be seen online on the Library of Congress site. However, they are best known for their railroad maps, but in the earliest years of road maps, many were overprinted onto a railroad map base. Skokie Historical Society, on its Skokie: A Community History Using Old Maps web page, comments on how these early road maps (1915) weren’t detailed enough to retrace street development and community development because of their railroad genesis. Despite these shortcomings, the State of Wisconsin chose the Chicago printers for its state highway maps in 1918 and 1924 (two maps below).

 

agdm_14261_smallWisconsin 1918

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agdm_7245_smallWisconsin 1924

Possibly due to a flowery, ornate style seen on its railroad-commissioned work, Poole Brothers maps fell out of favor by the 1930s, except for those accompanying railroad timetables. Near the end of its existence, the firm passed through several corporate owners, including American Can Company.  of favor by the 1930s, except for those accompanying railroad timetables. The printers kept afloat by printing journals and trade magazines. Near the end of its existence, the firm passed through several corporate owners, including American Can Company.  Other interesting Poole Brothers maps in the AGS Library include Alaskan territorial gold field maps, plus:

• The 1914 C&NW Wisconsin and Michigan Hunting and Fishing Resorts map, featuring its railroads north of Antigo.  agdm_6974_small

• The 1893 Chicago Evening Journal map of Chicago, showing Streets, Parks, Railroad Depots, Ward Boundaries, with Street Guide. Chicago, Illinois 1893

 

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1927 Chicago Tribune Map of Chicagoland

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by Judy Aulik

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The Milwaukee Journal was not the only Midwestern newspaper giant to publish road maps. But unlike the Journal, the Chicago Tribune still has maps produced in its behalf, albeit by Rand McNally. The folding style of Chicagoland map was a mainstay of Illinois drivers for many years. It developed some delightful idiosyncrasies, such as the locations of radio broadcast transmitter towers, but at this early date, the “Trib map,” as called by residents, only showed some colleges, religious institutions, cemeteries, parks, and golf courses as landmarks and destinations. In addition, on this 1927 edition, US highways were designated by the route number in a red circle, instead of the shields used by the Rand McNally portion.

What is noticeable is the number of communities which have ceased to exist. Northeastern Illinois is notable for the number of communities denoted by the railroad stations on the major lines, spaced at fairly regular intervals. For example, on the C.B.&Q. (now the BNSF, or Burlington Northern & Santa Fe) were communities such as Belmont, now part of Downers Grove; Eola, now part of Aurora; and Lovedale, no longer extant.

Communities located on highways were not immune. On Roosevelt Road, once US 30A and today IL 38, was York Center, still denoted by churches but incorporated into Lombard. On Butterfield Road, parts of which have become IL 56, was Utopia, which is today’s Oakbrook Terrace, famous for its vast stretches of shopping malls.

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lombard insert

Interestingly, the reverse, a map of the states contiguous with Lake Michigan, shows us that the Tribune‘s relationship with the Chicago map giant dates back to the earliest map of the series. “Rand McNally” above “Auto Road Map” is replaced by “Chicago Tribune: The World’s Greatest Newspaper,” but with the characteristic compass rose, cartography, and copyright statement, no one would be fooled. In addition, I have a 1927 Illinois map, issued by the Tribune, but published by Rand McNally.

From a collector’s standpoint, the Chicagoland maps are common, but very difficult to find in acceptable condition. The vast majority are misfolded, heavily worn, and many are taped together, proof of the maps’ popularity. Probably due to the growth of the region–the Tribune maps did not show land beyond the Fox River–the Chicagoland map ceased publication sometime in the 1990s, with one last 2000 map. Even today, I carry a Tribune/Rand McNally 7-county street guide in my car when traveling, despite GPS. It lacks the charm of the old maps, but still gets the job done–until the next round of highway construction.

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View the map in the AGS Library Digital Map Collection here

 

The 1913 State Highway Map of California

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by Judy Aulik

The moment I first saw this map, I knew it was something very special. California is a somewhat difficult state to map attractively because of its shape. There’s a lot of negative space to fill, and W. Elliott Judge used the expected list of cities and their population. But wait! There’s more! He added the graphic of an outline map with other states included to illustrate its size. Several eastern states’ outlines were twisted and turned to fill the space. It’s clever, and something I’ve never seen before on a road map.

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At first glance, it appears to be bicolored, but then the red highways and wagon trails become evident. [1913ca-legend.jpg] legendHighway scarcity is expected in a 1913 edition.  Confusion, however, is generated by railroad lines not using the convention of crosshatches to represent ties (sleepers). The region around Fresno illustrates how early highways tended to parallel the major railroads of the day, which also were planned to avoid the worst of California’s mountainous terrain. The 1916 edition (not shown) is remarkably similar, except the vast amount of red ink used on highways and proposed highways is clearly identifiable.

The Complete Map Works of San Francisco, Judge’s employer, appears to have only produced California highway maps for a relatively brief period.  The 1913 map appears to be one of the first. Maps drawn by Judge appear in WorldCat, with the last a 1949 Pacific North West edition co-authored with W. Campbell Judge, presumed to be his son. Another Complete Map Works’ map series is the Engineers Official Map of … , which also cover midwestern states into the 1930s.

 

 

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Click here to view this map in the AGS Library Digital Map Collection: https://cdm17272.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/agdm/id/14269/rec/1

 

Pikes Peak-Ocean to Ocean Highway

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by Judy Aulik

It’s early days in auto travel. How successful would you believe a transcontinental highway spanning the continent would be? Now, what if you learned that New York City, Baltimore, Columbus, Indianapolis, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco were some of the cities the fledgling highway was routed through? Sounds great, doesn’t it? However, Pikes Peak-Ocean to Ocean Highway (PPOO) emphasized connecting state capitals and county seats.  ppoo-purposeAnd despite the route shown in the 1915 map, it bypassed many of the above.

According to http://www.ppoo.org, the route was so poorly planned that only US 36 overlaid any significant part of the PPOO: Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas had sections which later became part of the federal highway system. From the July, 1919 issue of Automobile Journal, we learn that associations  that contributed to the PPOO included the William Penn Highway Association, the Hannibal-Springfield Highway Association, the Hannibal and St. Joseph Cross State Highway Association, The Rock Island Highway Association (Kansas), the Lincoln Highway Association (Colorado), the Overland Trail Club (Nevada),  and the Feather River Route Association (California).
ppoo-illIn its original Illinois routing of the PPOO, only Decatur, an agricultural industry center, and the capital, Springfield, lay on the route. By 1924, both Danville and Urbana wooed the PPOO highway officials into using SBI (State Bond Issue; an early designator for Illinois highways ) 10 as its local path. Since its PPOO days, SBI 10 has had multiple changes to its route. By 1927, Urbana appeared completely prepared for tourism, according to articles in the Urbana Courier and the Daily Illini. There was a significant cluster of automotive service providers on Urbana’s Main Street, now mainly residential. A 1923 tourist camp underwent improvements to its Crystal Lake park location through 1927.

A 1927 map shown on “The Appian Way of America” web page shows how the final route deviated from design. Columbus, Indianapolis, and even San Francisco no longer appeared on the PPOO. Instead, it terminated in Los Angeles. By that time, a motorist could use the straightforward US 66 instead from Chicago westward.

Like so many of the highly logical routes proposed by the National Highway Association, the Pikes Peak-Ocean to Ocean Highway was swerved by civic boosters and emotional appeals. However, the final product never rivaled either the Lincoln Highway or the National  Old Trails Road, later encompassed by US 30 and US 40, respectively, east of the Rockies.

Map from the AGS Library Digital Map Collection
Link to the map in the AGS Library Digital Map Collection: http://cdmprod.uits.uwm.edu/cdm/ref/collection/agdm/id/7054

 

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Link to the FHWA 1927 map: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/pikes02.cfm

 

 

The 1931 Wadham Road Map

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by Judy Aulik

wad31fcOne of the author’s favorite oil companies to issue road maps is Wisconsin’s own Wadham Oil Company. Founded in 1888, early on it specialized in oils and greases: gasoline had a very limited market in the day.  As highways were built and auto travel became commonplace, an obvious place to advertise was on the road maps nearly every traveler carried.

From the beginning of its gasoline marketing, Wadham produced a superior product called “straight run gasoline,” i.e., the hydrocarbon fraction obtained strictly by distilling petroleum. Compared to other fractions such as kerosene and heating oils, the gasoline suited to automotive use was rare in many oil feedstocks. Petrochemical tricks such as catalytic cracking and reforming were yet to come into use. Therefore, Wadham had to charge a small premium for its gasoline, considered to be a premium product. Indeed, the original gas was designed for a colder climate, and before the mid-1920s, was lead-free.

Wadham capitalized on its reputation by featuring images of country club life and fancy autos on its map covers. Its stations were distinctive even before architect Alexander C. Eschweiler designed his famous “Pagoda” gas stations, outstanding in their exotic nature, yet blending harmoniously in Wisconsin towns and cities.

By the time this map was issued in 1931, Wadham had been purchased by Vacuum Oil Company, precursor to Socony-Vacuum (which eventually became Mobil Oil, and culminated in ExxonMobil)  However, the first three map issues under the new parent remained truer to the Wadham red, black, and yellow color scheme than to its new parent’s. Some Road Map Collectors Association members would debate whether the map shown is a Wadham map or a Milwaukee Journal Tour Club wad31legendtcmap issue. It was obtainable at the Tour Club’s Branch Stations. Fewer would opine that, as the cartographical information is that from the Wisconsin State Highway Commission, it should be considered a state official map.

Wadham’s first reported map was a 1925 issue, which was issued inside a small cardstock cover. At this point, Wadham gasoline stations were part of a Wisconsin Independent Oil Jobbers Association, and photographic evidence shows limited use of the association’s spread eagle trademark and signage. The next map considered by the RMCA to be a Wadham issue dates to 1932. The 1933 map used Langwith cartography; the 1934 cartographer is unknown; and the remainder, issued from 1935-1940, used General Drafting cartography, as did the Socony-Vacuum maps of the era. By 1935, the Mobil Pegasus had replaced the chemical industry imagery of the Wadham signage.

Does anyone else know of Wadham maps from the 1926-1930 range? If so, the author would like to know of their existence in detail.

View this map at UWM’s AGSL Digital Map Collection

 

Road Maps in Transition: 1920-1925

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by Judy Aulik

    Wisconsin officially numbered and sign posted its highways between 1916 and 1918, following the state trunk highway system (STH) designed by A.R. Hirst. Illinois followed in 1918 with its first round of state bond highways (SBI), and Michigan began its M system in 1919. After a five year gap, when Rand McNally resumed publishing road maps in 1917, later coupled with a proprietary, rudimentary, coated cardboard road marking system and an arbitrary space saving numbering system, it resulted in a peculiar set of road maps with five distinct highway designations, including the blazed trails, such as the Lincoln Highway. Had Rand McNally chosen the detail allowed by Wisconsin’s unusual county trunk highway lettering systems, it would have had six!

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     The Wisconsin State Historical Society has digitized maps of this era, as they have unquestionably passed out of copyright. Wisconsin, northern Michigan, and northern Illinois comprise District No. 8 in the Auto Trails Map series. Cartographer John Brink had an entry in a company contest which won him $100. His big idea: make a clearer highway map by numbering the major roads and trails, using a map legend which assigns a Rand McNally route number to each trail.

     However, the decluttering concept fell by the wayside as his employer began to sell advertising, primarily for garages and hotels. printed in red in the clear space left.

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     Clearly, the extra information could prove helpful to the auto tourist. However, Brink’s Rand McNally route numbers, in white on a dark rectangle, generally conflicted with the route numbers used by the states. For example, the National Parks Pike, its eastern terminus in Madison, was designated as No. 9 on the Rand system; STH 19 (designating the highway as the 9th longest in Wisconsin) from Madison west; and blazed in red, black, and white for the National Parks Pike. After 1926, the Federal Highway system, which took over the best state routes, cleared up the confusion. The No. 9 route east of the capital city eventually became US 151; plus STH 19 west, on into Iowa (Primary Route 19; also the National Parks Pike), US 18.

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    Other highways the Federal Highway System also subsumed included SBI 4, which became US 66; a westerly stretch of the Yellowstone Trail in north central Wisconsin, which became US 10; and the mother of all renamings: the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial Highway (ca. 1915), which became SBI 5 (ca. 1918-1967), which also was co-blazed as the poorly publicized and long forgotten Atlantic-Yellowstone-Pacific Trail  (1923, per the Iowa DoT) in northern Illinois, which was taken over by US 20 (ca. 1938, now Business US 20 in segments). Confusing, yes, but that’s why road maps and highway history are so fascinating!

 Sources:

http://cdm15932.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/ref/collection/maps/id/14541

https://iowadot.gov/autotrails/atlantic-yellowstone-pacific-highway

 

Special thanks to the AGSL guest blogger, Judy Aulik. With an extensive road map collection of her own, Judy Aulik  has served as past President of the Road Map Collectors Association, an organization founded in 1996.  Now boasting a membership of several hundred in the US, Canada, and Europe, the club publishes a quarterly newsletter, has a website, Facebook page, and hosts an annual “Road Map Expo.”  Judy is a retired Adult Services Librarian with a PhD from UW-Madison. She recently spoke to the Wisconsin Map Society about the history of the Milwaukee Journal Tour Club, and its influence on highway signage and mapping. 

 

Milwaukee’s First Brownie–William Wallace Rowland Part Three

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by Judy Aulik

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1925 Wisconsin Official Highway Map

Beginning ca. 1924, state official maps had improved dramatically. The distractions of the Poole Bros. base map were gone. Improved highways were noted, which had always been a staple of the “Brownie” columns. The Milwaukee Journal Tour Club began to publish more specialized maps, such as Northern Wisconsin Lakes and their stand-alone Wisconsin maps, printed on heavy stock, in addition to their Call of the Open Road books.

The first blow to the Tour Club came when Wisconsin changed from the large detour maps, installed on large wooden signs at intersections by highway contractors, to the overprinted detour maps issued regularly. Each week, the Tour Club’s Information Station had updated detour information to go with the maps which membership conferred. Another Milwaukee Journal Tour Club function was superseded, although years before, AAA had begun to offer similar service.

After the Great Depression hit, The Milwaukee Journal tried to advertise its Tour Club more prominently in other newspapers. It offered more atlases and transcontinental maps as other states developed their state highway systems, and as the Federal Highway system, introduced in 1926, made cross-country travel more common.

In the same era, W. W. Rowland assumed more responsibility with the Journal. Map offerings by the Tour Club began to dwindle, and by 1933 the Milwaukee Journal Tour Club ceased to exist. Perhaps coincidentally, oil company advertising, especially road maps, reached their artistic peak. Milwaukee local Wadham’s Oil, in conjunction with Langwith, distributed beautiful maps before and after its merger with Socony-Mobil. National companies used either H. H. Gousha or Rand McNally to produce their maps, and Shell and Sinclair are especially noted for their advertising maps of the early ’30s, distributed free, of course. You can only guess what went through Brownie’s mind when the decision to terminate the Tour Club had to be made. Was it nostalgia for the earliest highway trips with his mother? Was there wistfulness for the days he coupled automotive trials and road reviews with his faithful “Poor Cuss?” Or did he merely say to his staff, “Job well done!”?

Eleven more years passed. His sister continued a woman’s column as he reached the vice-presidency at the Journal. In 1944, William Wallace Rowland passed, but “Brownie” lived on in the hearts of Milwaukeeans.

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-End of series-

Part 1

Part 2
Portions of these blog entries came from research for the Road Map Collectors Association’s publication, The Legend,  and an April 23rd, 2017 presentation at the American Geographical Society Library.

Special thanks to the AGSL guest blogger, Judy Aulik. With an extensive road map collection of her own, Judy Aulik  has served as past President of the Road Map Collectors Association, an organization founded in 1996.  Now boasting a membership of several hundred in the US, Canada, and Europe, the club publishes a quarterly newsletter, has a website, Facebook page, and hosts an annual “Road Map Expo.”  Judy is a retired Adult Services Librarian with a PhD from UW-Madison. She recently spoke to the Wisconsin Map Society about the history of the Milwaukee Journal Tour Club, and its influence on highway signage and mapping.