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Mapping the change in Highway Networks over time is a project that is developing. There are many subprojects that fall in this category. Some may only appear in their geographic area in the main Projects page, so be sure to check there.

  • Wikipedia has a comprehensive description of Historic roads and trails, organized by country. Many of these would be suitable for mapping in OpenHistoricalMap.

United States

The highway system in the United States of America has a long history. Wikipedia has tried to capture some of the many significant US Highways in the following Category:Lists of roads in the United States. The sections below serve as an incomplete guide to major categories of US highways during different periods in time that may be important for inclusion in OpenHistoricalMap. Many of these routes are no longer in use and are historically significant. The Wikipedia page Historic trails and roads in the United States lists many such historic routes, including Category:Historic trails and roads in the United States. Widespread construction and implementation of Corduroy road and Plank road systems, sometimes as private endeavors with incorporation authorized by state legislatures, other times as publically commissioned. These often operated on a toll-basis to recover the cost of construction, operation and maintenance. States were often aided by federal land or funding allocations such as authorized by the Swamp Land Act of 1850 and much later, the Federal Aid Road Act of 1916 and Federal Aid Highway Act of 1921.

Military Roads

The US Federal Government commissioned the building of many military wagon roads and trails to improve troop movements and logistical support of far-flung forts and outposts. During the Western Expansion period, military expeditions such as the Lewis and Clark Expedition pioneered new routes, sometimes following Spanish colonial routes or those traditionally used by the indigenious peoples of North America. Earlier routes during the English Colonial Period or Early American federal periods may also be interesting to include in OpenHistoricalMap where possible. Listings of military-constructed roads can be found on Wikipedia Category:Military roads and List of military roads (world-wide list, see United States section [1]).

Postal Routes

The US Postal Service utilized a network of postal routes over which mail carriers distributed US mail and packages. Post Office Reports of Site Locations, available at the US Archives [2] often include a description of the postal route and its referene number. This route may have been overland, along established public roads, or using railroads to carry the mail under government contract. Postal Maps [3] were published by the Post Office official Topographer showing the location of post offices, roads and railroad routes using such information supplied by individual post masters and other sources.

Auto Trails

The Auto Trail system was an informal network of routes which predated the US National Highway System. The most famous of these was the Lincoln Highway, the first major transcontinental route. As detailed on Wikipedia, the Good Roads Movement was instrumental in pushing states and localities to improve the condition of public roads, well before the introduction of the automobile. With widespread adoption of personal motorized transport, however, state legislatures and the federal government were compelled to officially classify and substantially invest in public roads.

Pershing Map

  • The Pershing Map included a detailed plan for militarily important, needed roads and was presented to the US Congress in 1922. Many of these needed roads were in fact later built.

Numbered Highway System

The United States Numbered Highway System, enacted in 1926, ensured a standardized signage and numbering system for highways in the United States. Wikipedia maintains a List of United States Numbered Highways within this system, with an additional List of special routes of the United States Numbered Highway System. Many of these highways have been re-routed and or re-numbered over time. Capturing those fine-grained details within OpenHistoricalMap may help increase the value of the Map as a resource for better understanding period documents that make references that may seem anachronistic or incongruent with modern nomenclature.



National roads

The French national highways from the time of napoleon to the present day.

  • French national roads- there are currently two OHM tasking manager projects to map the 19 Century French Road Network, the Hauts-De-France Region [4] and Burgundy Franche-Comté Region [5], using 19th century military maps as the basis.