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": Toledo, OH

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 true "east" terminus of US 24 could be considered 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.

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 "Minturn" quad, showing the interchange where US 24 ends today:

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). There may have been a primitive road going up the Gore Creek canyon (upper right) into what is now known as the Vail Valley - but there wasn't a town of Vail, and there was no "Vail Pass" (now about 20 miles east). In 1926 the highway along the river became US 40-S, and that lasted for ten years. In 1936 it was renumbered US 24. The next year, the US 6 designation was extended west of Denver, but Vail Pass still wasn't open. So 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 at most: after Vail Pass was completed in the late 1930s/early 1940s, US 6 was signed along that route (roughly the same corridor as today's I-70, but that wasn't complete through the area until the 1970s). It then used the Gore Creek canyon to get to this point, and joined with US 24 here. That still left a multiplex between here and Grand Junction that lasted nearly 40 years; in fact it became so engrained in western Colorado that many maps still label the road "US 6 & 24". The local phone book lists 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 latest 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 (including the USGS one above) 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 just the name of a railroad siding (but CDoT also refers to this segment of I-70 as "Dowd Canyon"). 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 (see purple corporate boundary line at the lower right of the USGS map), but "downtown" Minturn is about 2 miles south (or "east", since 24 is an east/west road).

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 (unchanged as of 2010)

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. You didn't know which way to go for gas/phone/food/lodging. Looks to me like some of the old signs were recycled and used at the other offramp (more on that below). By 2010 there was some improvement...

Karners, Aug. 2010

...but you still have to guess which way to go for gas/phone/food/lodging. Anyway, if you head towards Minturn, you'll soon see the assembly below:

me, June 2002

This is what I would consider the true beginning of eastbound US 24: if you're following US 6 eastbound, you have to go right here with I-70 (despite the lack of signage to that effect). I've enlarged the center of that photo below:

me, June 2002

Note the Minturn city limits sign at right, and also the "Extreme Fire Danger" sign. This was taken during the height of Colorado's infamous summer of drought and fires (2002).

Anyway, if you were to head that direction a ways and then turn around, you would've seen this sign in 1998:

me, Apr. 1998

That's the I-70 overpass in the background; this 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

That's what I consider the east end of US 24 (although signage here is again misleading). To the left is eastbound I-70/US 6, while straight ahead is westbound US 6 and access to westbound I-70. If you continue straight ahead, you'll see a new "End" sign on the far side of the overpass:

me, June 2002

At far left is the offramp from westbound I-70; the bridge at right is for a recreation trail that goes up through the Gore Creek canyon to Vail. They've since moved the "End" tab to the top, which is more the standard in Colorado:

Schecter, May 2010

Now for signage from eastbound I-70:

me, June 2002 (unchanged as of 2010)

Note that US 6 is not indicated for this direction - probably because not many people are going to head back the way they just came from. At the bottom of that offramp, you see the signage below:

me, Apr. 1998

Here we have completely different information than what's presented at the westbound offramp (though to be fair, I should point out there was also a gas/food/phone/lodging assembly pointing to the right, off the side of that photo). But you don't know which way US 24 goes. The Scenic Byway signage is enlarged below:

me, Apr. 1998

That route takes you past several of Colorado's 14-ers, and in general some very spectacular scenery... but also past some depressing examples of the destruction mining can wreak on a landscape. James reports you have to go all the way through Minturn (about 2-3 miles) before the first confirming marker is posted:

Schecter, May 2010

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