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Old 06-06-2013, 03:05 PM
Location: Victoria TX
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Up to the 1950s, major highways in the Midwestern states frequently had 20-mph curves on them, where the highway ran along a straight line, then had to deviate suddenly because all roads were laid out on section lines, where property lines were demarcated. These gradually began to disappear, as highway departments would buy corners of farmland in order to round out the curve, to allow highway speeds.

Here's an example, in Illinois, where the road going to the right was US-51 going south, straight ahead is US-51 going north, but jogging easterly at this point. All traffic both ways had to slow down to negotiate the curve, and this would happen every ten miles or so. Seen from a vantage point which was then probably just a local gravel road.


Last edited by jtur88; 06-06-2013 at 03:14 PM..
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Old 06-09-2013, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by crayola View Post
I have noticed this over time just simply from looking at google maps, look at the roads in the midwest, do they not appear to be more squarely mapped? Then compare that to anywhere from Kentucky on south, and they are more diagonal?

Anybody else notice this? And if so, is there any reasoning behind it?
Most roads on east coat and in south be it city , town , country is one big very big mess . Where the west coast and south west it is well more on the grid system .

I wonder if British influence on the east coat and in south has some thing to do with it.
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Old 06-09-2013, 02:10 PM
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Regarding the American grid system, read this excellent book:

American Boundaries: The Nation, the States, the Rectangular Survey by Bill Hubbard Jr.

From the jacket blurb: "... the notion evolved that unsettled land should be divided into rectangles and sold to individual farmers, and how this rectangular survey spread outward from its origins in Ohio, with surveyors drawing straight lines across the face of the continent."

Very fun book to read for geography nerds and all others, too - not too academic, very accessible.
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Old 06-10-2013, 02:24 AM
Location: Somewhere below Mason/Dixon
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Originally Posted by Chicago60614 View Post
It's because the Midwest was settled using the Township method of surveying.

Townships are created based on meridians and base lines, of which there are a few running through the Midwest. Townships themselves are 6 miles by 6 miles, measured at their distance from a particular meridan and base line, and divided into 1 square mile pieces called Sections. Each section is 640 acres and is how individual property lines/boundries are divided.

There are actually a lot of interesting features of townships. Each 6 mile by 6 mile township with the 36 Sections has one section, always #16, that is set aside for a school. Even in many cities today they are required to build a school in this Section. The Township Sections are all numbered the same, starting in the upper right and going back and forth until you get to section #36 in the bottom right.

Many roads will follow the outlines of the townships, which is why you see such a grid all across the Midwest. 1-Mile, 3-Mile, 8-Mile roads, etc. in Michigan are all platted out based on Sections of a Township.

This is accurate and I believe dates back to the northwest ordinance.
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