End of US highway 6
|Approx. time period||East terminus||West terminus|
|1926-1931||Provincetown, MA||Erie, PA|
|1932-1937||Provincetown, MA||Greeley, CO|
|1937-1964||Provincetown, MA||Long Beach, CA|
|1964-present||Provincetown, MA||Bishop, CA|
Judging from the number of people who have contacted me and/or sent photos/info for this page, US 6 seems to capture the interest of road enthusiasts more than most other US routes. There's something fascinating about a road that's mostly rural, yet still stretches nearly the length of the entire country. And the way it follows the spiral of Cape Cod is particularly endearing. It's certainly one of my favorite routes - partly because it serves my hometown - but mostly because it's so long that it connects my hometown to both coasts. In fact, in the late 1930s (when it was extended west from Denver to the Los Angeles area), Route 6 became the longest highway in the history of US routes, at 3652 miles. (Today that's no longer the case, as the segment between Bishop and Long Beach CA has been decommissioned since 1964. According to Casey Cooper's US 6 page, the current route is now 116 miles shorter than US 20.) For much more information on California's historic segment of US 6, visit Mike Ballard's historic California highways pages. Also, here's a great article on US 6 by Richard Weingroff, historian for the Federal Highway Administration.
The history I present on this page is only that which relates to current and historic termini of US 6, and much of this info was gleaned from Robert Droz' pages and from the Discovering the 6 website.
The 1925 plan had US 6 running from Provincetown to Brewster NY. After changes that resulted in the plan's actual approval by the states in late 1926, the map included two disconnected segments of US 6: an east leg running from Provincetown to the NY state line west of Danbury CT, and a west leg running from Kingston NY to Erie PA. The segment from Kingston to Port Jervis NY was along today's US 209, and modern US 6 between Danbury and Port Jervis wasn't in the plan.
However, it appears that neither segment was actually signed with US 6 markers until 1928 - and by then the route had changed again. The two segments were now joined between Danbury and Port Jervis - so when US 6 was first signed, it essentially followed its current alignment from Provincetown all the way to Union City PA. From that point, US 6 was routed northwest along what is now PA hwy. 97, then PA 505 in Erie, ending at US 20 (you can view photos from there on this page). The segment of the originally-planned US 6 that was to run from Kingston to Port Jervis was designated US 6N [I].
In the early 1930's, the US 6 designation got a major extension to the west. I'm guessing it was co-signed with US 20 from Erie to Cleveland, and then it probably followed its modern route from Cleveland to the Chicago area. From there, the new US 6 swallowed up US 32 all the way to Council Bluffs, and retired US 38 from Omaha to Greeley CO, where it ended at US 85 (you can view photos from there on this page).
The sources I've seen disagree on the exact routing of US 6 after this westward extension. Some say it continued to directly serve Erie for another year. Regardless, by 1933 US 6 went from Union City through Edinboro to US 20 at West Springfield, bypassing Erie to the south. Its former route from Union City to Erie was then designated US 6N[II]. Around this time, US 6N[I] between Kingston and Port Jervis was decommissioned (US 209 was extended north along that route by 1935).
US 6N[II] only lasted a few years, because in the mid- to late-1930s, the route of US 6 was changed again: this time to its current alignment through Meadville PA. At that time, US 6N[II] was decommissioned, and that designation was instead re-applied to a third route: the modern US 6N running between West Springfield and Mill Village PA.
In 1937, US 6 was extended all the way to the west coast. Its former segment between Wiggins CO and Greeley became part of US 34. US 6 instead went from Wiggins along the "Denver Cutoff" to its eponymous city, and then west essentially along its current route to Bishop CA. From there, US 6 was co-signed with US 395 to a junction near Inyokern, and then south along today's CA hwy. 14 into greater Los Angeles. The west terminus of US 6 was then in Long Beach; you can view photos and maps on this page.
US 6 basked in the glory of its coast-to-coast, longest-US-route status for nearly 30 years. But in 1964, the designation was truncated back to Bishop CA, leaving only about 40 miles of US 6 in CA (you can view photos from there on this page). At (or near) that time, the west "end" of US 6 technically became the point where it crosses the CA/NV line, because signage on the remaining segment of the route in California was changed to north/south.