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End of US highway 159

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Additional research and/or photo credits: Nathan Edgars; Richie Kennedy; Jeff Morrison; Ben Prusia; me

Approx. time period North terminus South terminus
1940-1945 Horton, KS (near Nortonville, KS)
1945-1957 Craig, MO (near Nortonville, KS)
1957-1974 Craig, MO Nortonville, KS
1974-present (near Mound City, MO) Nortonville, KS

US 159 was first commissioned in 1940. At the time US 59's diagonal between Nortonville and Cummings had not yet been built. Instead, traffic went north from Nortonville on today's US 159, and then east on K-116. The opposite direction (west on K-116) was where US 159 began. The photo below is looking east on US 159/K-116:

Google Maps Street View, July 2013

Today the two routes split here, with K-116 continuing due east to Cummings, while US 159 curves due south and reaches Nortonville in about three miles. That curve probably wasn't always here, so the original junction would've been the 4-way intersection with Hamilton Road (just ahead past the houses). Until about 1957, US 159 ended here. Straight ahead was northbound US 59, while southbound was to the right.

US 159's original northern terminus was at US 73 in Horton KS. The photo below is looking west on 15th Street (northbound US 73 and westbound KS hwy. 20):

me, Oct. 2002

Originally the north beginning of US 159 was to the left on 1st Avenue East. The assembly visible behind the K-20 sign is shown below:

me, Oct. 2002

That's the modern perspective of a traveller at the historic north end of US 159 (incidentally, that intersection also marked the north end of US 73's former split route). In 1945, the US 159 designation was extended north with US 73, which as you can see is still the situation today.

Then (as now) US 159 was co-signed with US 73 for about 32 miles: north through Hiawatha KS to Falls City NE. There the route heads east, crosses the Missouri River, and enters the state of the same name. But just shy of Fortescue, US 159 went north on what is now MO hwy. 111, and its terminus was at US 59 in Craig. Below we're looking south on US 59:

Google Maps Street View, Aug. 2013

Modern Spur 111 swings out and bypasses town one block to the east. I'm not sure when that segment was built, or whether US 159 ever used it. So to the right on Gates Street (the block before Spur 111) may have been the original north beginning of US 159. Signage at the next block looks like this:

me, Oct. 2002

To the right was likely another historic north beginning of US 159. Below we're looking north on Spur 111:

me, Oct. 2002

The green sign in the middleground is at US 59 (it runs east-west at this point; northbound is to the left). I-29 is in the distance, at the foot of the bluffs in the background. Mainline MO 111 splits off to the left about a half-mile behind the camera; the segment that continues due north from there is designated "Spur 111". Assuming this bypass was built before the 1970s, this is where US 159 ended.

It was about 1957 when US 59 was rerouted to its current path between Nortonville and Cummings. So the south end of US 159 was extended down former US 59 into Nortonville. At Walnut Street, traffic is directed east, where it ends at its junction at US 59:

me, Oct. 2002

That's looking east at the spot where Walnut ends at US 59. The town of Nortonville is about a half-mile behind the camera. The perspective below is northbound on US 59, at the south beginning of US 159.

me, Oct. 2002

In about 1974 the north end of US 159 was changed to its present configuration: now it continues eastward past Fortescue, meets I-29 at interchange 79, and ends at US 59 about 3 miles east of there. In other words, US 159 ends about 9 miles southeast of Mound City MO. When I was there in October 2002, the 159 shield was missing from its post, but by a couple months later it had been replaced:

Prusia, Jan. 2003

That's looking east at the north end of US 159; US 59 runs across the photo. Down at the intersection itself, one sees the sign below:

Kennedy, 1999

That's across the road from the stop sign at US 59. Heading south on US 59 between Oregon and Mound City, the photo below shows the signage one sees at the north beginning of US 159:

me, Oct. 2002

The interchange with I-29 is about 3 miles to the west (right). If you turn that way, you'll see the first sign for southbound US 159, shown below:

me, Oct. 2002