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End of US highway 24

View a map showing this route.

Photo credits: Chris Bessert; Dan Garnell; Don Hargraves; Brent Ivy; Karin and Martin Karner; David Outen; Robert Mortell; Alex Nitzman; James Schecter; Dave Schul; me

Approx. time period North terminus West terminus
1926-1928 Pontiac, MI Kansas City, MO
1928-1930 Birmingham, MI Kansas City, MO
1930-1936 Pontiac, MI Kansas City, MO
1936-1975 Pontiac, MI Grand Junction, CO
1975-1987 Pontiac, MI Minturn, CO
1987-present Clarkston, MI Minturn, CO
Point where signage changes from "East/West" to "North/South": Ohio-Michigan line

US 24 was among the original 1926 routes. Until US 10 was decommissioned between Bay City and Detroit, US 24's "Michigan terminus" never went any further north than Pontiac (I say "Michigan" instead of "east" because the last "east" sign along US 24 is in Toledo OH, since the highway is signed north/south in Michigan.) Chris Bessert has some great info about the history of US 24 in Michigan; here's what I've gathered from him about its historic termini: in 1926, Telegraph Road wasn't complete all the way north to Pontiac. So US 24 was routed west with US 16 along Grand River Avenue, and then north again on Orchard Lake Road, ending at Woodward Avenue (US 10) in Pontiac:

Hargraves, May 2003

Don Hargraves writes:

"This is my guess as to where US 24 ended originally in Pontiac, at Orchard Lake Road and Woodward. I say that because this is where Woodward would go if it goes straight. Notice the parking garage in front of us, notice that Orchard Lake Road (or the road that it leads to) goes under it. I wouldn't be surprised to find out the true historic ending is acutally underneath the garage somewhere."

In 1928, US 24 was routed east from Telegraph on Maple Road, ending at Woodward in Birmingham:

Hargraves, May 2003

By 1930, US 24 followed Telegraph all the way up to Square Lake Road in Pontiac, then went east to end at Woodward. That's where it stayed until US 10's truncation in 1987:

Hargraves, May 2003

That's eastbound Square Lake at Woodward.

When the US 10 designation was removed from the Detroit-Bay City corridor in 1987, US 24 was extended along 10's old route out of Pontiac, northwest to I-75's interchange 93. The photo below was taken from southbound I-75:

Ivy/Nitzman, 2009

That's the north beginning of US 24. The shot below was my first "End US highway" photo, taken in the summer of 1992...

me, summer 1992

...interestingly though, as I recall, the sign in this photograph was about a mile further north than the interchange. Below we're looking the opposite direction:

Garnell, December 2002

The embankment in the background is I-75. On the other side is the first confirming marker:

Mortell, 2000

US 24's west end was originally in Kansas City MO - I'm told the terminus was at the intersection of 15th and Paseo:

Mortell, Aug. 2007

That's looking south on Paseo, which I believe was US 71. To the left on 15th (now Truman Road) was the west beginning of US 24.

In 1936, the designation was extended westward from Kansas City, swallowing up what had until then been signed as "US 40-S". The west end of US 24 was then at US 50 in Grand Junction; you can view photos from there on this page.

Below is a portion of the USGS 1:24k "Minturn" quad (with a modern basemap showing through), illustrating the interchange where US 24 ends today:

1:24,000 scale

If you can imagine that map without I-70 (the thick red line) and its access ramps, you'll have an idea of how things used to look here: basically there was only the road along the Eagle River (running between lower right and upper left). In 1926 this riverside highway became a segment of the newly-designated US 40-S, and that lasted for the next ten years:

1:62,500 scale

There was a primitive road going up Dowd Canyon (upper right) into what is now known as the Vail Valley, but it went only as far as today's East Vail. There was no "Vail Pass" (now about 20 miles east), and there was no town of Vail.

The year after that map (1936) the highway was renumbered as US 24. The next year, the US 6 designation was extended west of Denver, but Vail Pass still wasn't open. So US 6 traffic was routed south from "Wheeler Junction" (today's Copper Mountain) via what is now CO hwy. 91, over Fremont Pass to Leadville, where it met US 24. From there the two routes were co-signed back up through here, and on to Grand Junction. That lasted only a few years: after Vail Pass was completed in about 1940, US 6 was signed along that route (roughly the same corridor as today's I-70, but the freeway wasn't complete through this area until the 1970s). It then used Dowd Canyon to get to this point, and joined with US 24 here:

1:62,500 scale

That still left a multiplex between here and Grand Junction that lasted nearly 40 years; in fact it became so ingrained in western Colorado that many maps still label the road "US 6 & 24". Last time I checked, the local phone book listed a "6 & 24 Trailer Court" in Rifle; in fact official CDoT documents as recent as 2003 still refer to the road as "US 6-24"! Below is a scan of the 1975 (summer edition) CDoT state highway map - one of the last to show the 6-24 multiplex west of Minturn:

(Incidentally, note also the town of "Grand Valley", which is now known as Parachute.) The US 24 designation was officially removed from that segment in 1975; its west end was then truncated to its current terminus at Minturn (the 1977 winter CDoT map was the first to indicate this). Many maps show a "Dowds" or "Dowds Junction" at the spot. That's not a town, and most Coloradoans have never heard of it; I'm guessing it's the name of the railroad siding just to the south. At any rate, it's where Gore Creek flows into the Eagle River. Today, the town of Minturn has annexed all the way up to the interchange, but "downtown" Minturn is about 2 miles south (or "east", since US 24 is signed as an east-west highway). We'll start with photos from westbound I-70/US 6; this is the sign for the exit to the west beginning of US 24:

me, June 2002 (replaced by 2015, but still essentially the same)

The Eagle River runs across the bottom of that shot; in the lower right corner you can see the railroad bridge over the mouth of Gore Creek. The bus is on US 6-24. I-70 uses the overpass at left; the offramp is on the far side (you can just make out the green exit sign in the distance) and it curves down to US 6-24 at far right. Below are some shots of what you see at the stop sign at the end of that offramp. This first one is historic:

me, Apr. 1998

Compare that to what was there a few years later (below):

me, June 2002

There were no directions to the nearby towns, nor to the scenic byway, and you didn't know which way to go for gas/phone/food/lodging. By 2010 there was some improvement...

Karners, Aug. 2010 (unchanged as of 2015)

...but you still have to guess which way to go for gas/phone/food/lodging. And, as we'll see below, the information presented here is different from what you see from the eastbound offramp. Anyway, if you turn right there, towards Minturn, you'll soon see the assembly below:

left: me, June 2002 -- right: me, June 2015 (original)

This is what I would consider the true beginning of eastbound US 24: if you're following US 6 eastbound, you have to turn right here to join with I-70 (despite the lack of signage to that effect). But traffic exiting from eastbound I-70 doesn't see that sign. Instead, one must travel about five miles ahead, and well beyond Minturn, before the first confirming marker is posted:

me, June 2015 (original)

That's right at the first switchback, where the highway begins climbing out of the Eagle River floodplain and ascends to the so-called "Battle Mountain summit" (the roadcut visible in that photo is also part of US 24). That term doesn't refer to the actual summit of Battle Mountain, but rather the road's highpoint along one of its shoulders, before it drops back down to the river near Red Cliff. Below is a close-up:

Schecter, May 2010

Right across the road from there is the last "normal" westbound US 24 trailblazer...

me, June 2015 (original)

...although there is one more reference to US 24 ahead in Minturn, prompting drivers to curve left instead of staying on Main Street:

me, June 2015 (original)

Back in 1998, if you were to continue ahead a couple miles, you would've seen this sign:

me, Apr. 1998

That's the I-70 overpass in the background. That sign was gone by 2002; all that was left is the assembly below, posted a bit further ahead:

me, June 2002

The green sign in the distance is shown close up below:

me, June 2002

Signage here is incomplete (although not unusual for Colorado, which doesn't acknowledge US routes where they run concurrently with interstates): to the left is eastbound I-70 and US 6, while straight ahead is westbound US 6 and access to westbound I-70. If you continue straight ahead, you'll see a newer "End" sign on the far side of the overpass:

me, June 2002

At far left is the onramp to westbound I-70, as well as the offramp from westbound I-70. I would say the true end of US 24 is there, because that's where (implied) westbound US 6 exits I-70 and then continues straight ahead. Sometime prior to 2010 the "End" tab was moved to the top, which is generally a more common configuration for "End" assemblies:

me, June 2015 (original)

The bridge at right is for the Dowd Junction recreation trail that goes up Gore Creek to Vail. According to the 1950 1:62k USGS topo shown above, that bridge is situated at approximately the same location as the old US 6 bridge that was used before I-70 was built. So historically this is the point where US 6 and 24 joined and continued ahead together to Grand Junction. Now for signage from eastbound I-70:

me, June 2002

Note that US 6 was not indicated for this direction - probably because not many people are going to head back the way they just came from. But sometime after 2010 that sign was replaced, and now it does include US 6...

me, June 2015 (original)

...although some trees need to be removed. At the bottom of that offramp, the signage shown below used to be posted:

me, Apr. 1998

That info was essentially the same as what is presented at the westbound offramp, except you don't know which way is US 24, and which is US 6. Not only that, but now the control towns on that green sign have also been changed:

me, June 2015 (original)

Now Red Cliff (to the right) has been replaced by Eagle-Vail (to the left), which is perplexing. It's true that at milepost 169 there is no eastbound exit for Eagle-Vail, but if that community is your destination, you'd be more likely to use the previous exit (168), rather than coming all the way to this point and then backtracking.

Anyway, US 24 begins to the right, and the road takes you past several of Colorado's 14-ers, and in general some spectacular scenery. Some photos from the westernmost ten miles of the highway can be viewed here.