End of US highway 10

View a map showing this route.

Photo credits: Patrick Allen; Chris Elbert; Geoff Hatchard; Brent Ivy; Bruce Kasprzyk; Alex Nitzman; Brian Reynolds; Ed Wilson; me

Approx. time period East terminus West terminus
1926-1969 Detroit, MI Seattle, WA
1969-1971 Detroit, MI Spokane, WA
1971-1973 Detroit, MI Coeur d'Alene, ID
1973-1974 Detroit, MI Mullan, ID
1974-1986 Detroit, MI Missoula, MT
1986-1987 Detroit, MI West Fargo, ND
1987-present Bay City, MI West Fargo, ND

US 10 used to be one of the grand original highways: for over 40 years it stretched from Detroit to Seattle. Now that most of its original route is closely matched by newer interstates, it's been reduced to a mere shadow of its former self: it exists only between Bay City MI and Fargo ND. However, US 10 still retains one of its uncommon features: it is one of only two existing US highways whose route includes a ferry segment (the other is US 9).


For the first 60 years of its existence, the east end of US 10 was in Detroit (you can view photos from there on this page)...


...and for over 40 years, the west end of US 10 was in Seattle. Originally traffic was directed into town on Rainier Avenue and Dearborn Street. Then US 10 angled northwest on Airport Way and ended at 4th Avenue, which was US 99. The photo below shows that perspective...

Elbert, Feb. 2005

...although this area has been rebuilt and probably looks nothing like what it did when US 10 ended here. Below is a shot from southbound 4th, or historic southbound US 99:

Elbert, Feb. 2005

Originally US 10 began to the left. But later, in the 1950's, when US 99 was rerouted along the Alaskan Way Viaduct and tunnel, US 10 was extended along the former route of US 99 through downtown. The photo below is looking north on Aurora Avenue, where traffic coming from Battery Street, 7th Avenue, and Denny Way (on the right) merges with traffic coming out of the tunnel (on the left):

Elbert, Feb. 2005

That would've marked the endpoint of US 10. Note the old green sign bridge at far left; that's also visible in the photo below, which is looking the opposite direction (south on Aurora):

Elbert, Feb. 2005

That's now southbound WA hwy. 99, but it used to be US 99. Traffic is directed to go straight ahead, into the tunnel, but at one time US 10 traffic would've been directed to take the Denny Way/Downtown exit. Signage is shown close-up below:

Elbert, Feb. 2005


1969 saw the first in a series of transitional truncations of US 10, as segments of its replacement (I-90) were completed (see chart above). Within five years the length of US 10 had been reduced by nearly 500 miles, and it no longer existed in Washington or Idaho. By 1986 the US 10 designation had been removed from all of Montana, and most of North Dakota, shortening its length by another 900 miles. Today the west end of US 10 is west of Fargo, at its interchange with I-94. The photo below shows the last westbound US 10 marker:

Wilson

That's looking west on Main Avenue in West Fargo (that assembly had been replaced by 2007). If you continue that direction, you'll reach the west end of the route, shown below:

Nitzman, Apr. 2007

That shows the signage at the west end of US 10/Business I-94. The original route continued west from here, roughly along today's I-94, to Billings MT. From there, US 10 basically followed modern I-90 all the way to Seattle. One can still drive on much of the original route. The photo below was taken from eastbound I-94:

Nitzman, Apr. 2007

Today US 10 begins by exiting to the right, then passing over I-94, and then resuming on the alignment straight ahead. At that point, the first eastbound US 10 marker is posted:

Nitzman, Apr. 2007


One year after being truncated at West Fargo, the east end of US 10 was shortened as well. The photo below is in Bay City, on southbound I-75:

Ivy/Nitzman, 2009

The east beginning of US 10 is to the right. This next shot was taken from eastbound US 10 at the I-75 interchange (the overpass is Three Mile Rd):

me, May 1999

All of those signs have since been replaced, including (perhaps most strangely) the "US 10 Ends" assemblies, which now read "Ends US 10":

Allen, Dec. 2009

As you can see, the highway itself does continue east into downtown, but east of the interchange it's designated M-25. It's kind of interesting that US 10 ends here now, because Bay City was not even on the original routing of US 10. Instead, from Midland, it followed today's M-47 and M-58 into downtown Saginaw. From there, it roughly followed I-75 through Flint and Pontiac, where it was then routed along Woodward Avenue right into the heart of downtown Detroit. It ended there on the waterfront, along with US 16, US 12, and US 112, at its junction with US 25. Today, US 12 is the only one of those highways still serving downtown Detroit (photos from there on this page).

Below is a photo from the opposite direction: eastbound on M-25 at the beginning of US 10:

Hatchard, Jan. 2003

Heading that direction, today's US 10 is routed onto a newer limited-access freeway between Bay City and Clare. However, most (if not all) of the original route is still driveable from Detroit to Clare. West of Clare, US 10 hasn't changed much. When you get to Ludington, you have to use a car ferry to get across Lake Michigan to Manitowoc WI, where US 10 continues westward. The signage in Ludington belies that fact, though:

Reynolds, May 2002

As of 2012 that sign was slightly different. In the background you can see one of the car ferries that serves as a westward continuation of US 10. It actually has an image of a US 10 shield on it:

Kasprzyk, Sep. 2012