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End of US highway 69

View a map showing this route.

Additional research and/or photo credits: Monte Castleman; Nathan Edgars; Jason Hancock; Jeremy Lance; Scott Maness; Jeff Morrison; Robert Mortell; Ben Prusia; me

Approx. time period North terminus South terminus
1926-1934 Leon, IA Kansas City, MO
1934-1935 Des Moines, IA Kansas City, MO
1935-1960s(?) Albert Lea, MN (downtown) Port Arthur, TX
1960s(?)-present Albert Lea, MN (west) Port Arthur, TX

US 69 was an original 1926 route - but back then it was tiny: only about 150 miles long. Its south end was at its junction with US 40 in Kansas City MO, but most of its historic route there has been vacated. It came from the north across the Missouri River via the ASB Bridge (which closed to automobile traffic in 1987, when its function was replaced by the Heart of America Bridge). On the south side of the river, US 69 was aligned with what is now the offramp from southbound MO hwy. 9 to 3rd Street. That road then curves over to Locust Street, where US 69 continued south. Today you can only go as far south as Missouri Avenue, because the remainder of the old road was completely erased when MO 9's interchange with I-70/35 was built. US 69 used to continue down Locust to Independence Avenue, where it then jogged slightly back to the west, such that by the time it reached 6th Street, it was aligned with what is now Page Street. Maps from that timeframe are unclear as to whether US 40 ran along 6th or Admiral Boulevard, but the photo below shows both:

Google Maps Street View, Aug. 2014

That's looking north on Page; the crossroad is Admiral, while the white pickup in the middleground is heading east on 6th. US 69 either began straight ahead, or else it began where the pickup is, and then continued straight ahead to Locust (across where I-70/35 runs now). In 1930, this also became the south beginning of US 169.

Originally the north end of US 69 was in Leon IA. The photo below is looking south on Church Street at First Street:

me, Oct. 2002 (unchanged as of Apr. 2007)

Today this is southbound US 69, which continues to the right with IA 2 for a half-mile before turning south again. But this used to be southbound US 65, which continued to the left. To the right was the north beginning of US 69. The shot below is east on First at Church:

me, Oct. 2002 (unchanged as of Apr. 2007)

That used to be the north end of US 69. Ahead was southbound US 65, and left was northbound US 65. (As a fan of watertowers, I was pleased to be able to include both of Leon's in these shots.)

In 1934, US 65 was rerouted like it is today through southern Iowa: instead of heading west to Leon, it went north through Indianola and Des Moines. So US 69 was extended north from Leon along the former route of US 65, joining the "new" US 65 about 5 miles south of Indianola. The two routes were co-signed into Des Moines, where US 69 ended at its junction with US 6. The photo below is looking west on Grand Avenue:

Morrison, Oct. 2006

Jeff points out that the building with the green awnings (at right) was probably here back in 1934. At the time, this was US 6, and traffic at the north end of US 69 came in from the left.

That only lasted about one year. In 1935, the US 69 designation was extended north: co-signed with US 65 through Des Moines, and from there further on to Albert Lea MN. At first, US 69 came into town on South Broadway, meeting US 65 about eight blocks south of Main Street (which carried US 16 at the time). It seems likely that the two routes would've been co-signed up to Main, and US 69 would've ended at its junction with US 16. Below is a photo of what modern signage looks like heading north on Broadway (US 65) at Main:

Morrison, May 2004

US 16 ran along Main; northbound US 65 continued (as it does yet today) by turning right on Main (with what used to be eastbound US 16), but US 69 would've ended there. That lasted for only about four years: it was about 1939 when US 69 traffic was shifted over to its current alignment, which is about a mile west of Broadway. The photo below is on northbound US 69 approaching its current terminus at Main:

Morrison, May 2004

That post would make a great location for an "End US 69" assembly. The green sign ahead is shown close-up below:

Morrison, May 2004

As I've said, Main used to be US 16, which may help to explain why the US 69 designation ends atypically (at a junction with a state route). But US 16 has long been decommissioned through here, so today it's southbound MN hwy. 13 to the right, but left is CR 46. Below is a close-up of the next green sign:

Morrison, May 2004

Straight ahead is northbound MN 13, which connects with I-90 a few miles ahead at interchange 154 (as you can see, I-35 traffic is also encouraged to use that road, rather than taking a right and heading through downtown Albert Lea). After I-90 was built and US 16 was decommissioned in Minnesota, I think the US 69 designation should have been extended north (straight ahead) to I-90. Or else it should've been extended east (right) a few miles to US 65. Actually, it used to do that; Bob Otterson writes:

"US 69 didn't always end at that intersection. I have the 1961 official Minnesota state road map, and the Albert Lea inset shows 69 turning east (right) from this photo and running with US 16 over the train viaducts to downtown Albert Lea. The 69 terminus was at Main and Broadway (US 65). From there, 16 and 65 continued east between the city's lakes for about a mile-and-a-half before 65 headed north on a county road that still exists."

In other words, it appears US 69 continued to end at the same intersection (Broadway and Main), even though it approached from the west instead of the south. Let's turn that direction: the photo below is looking east on Main at Broadway:

Castleman, summer 2002

Southbound US 65/Business I-35 is to the right; northbound is straight ahead, and US 69 used to end here (where MN 13 ends now). Today, the north end of US 65 is about 3 miles straight ahead. The green signs in the distance are shown close-up below:

Morrison, May 2004

US 69 began to the right. Now we'll turn around and head the opposite direction (west on Main at Broadway):

Morrison, May 2004

From 1935-1939, US 69 began to the left. Then, from 1939 to probably sometime in the 1960s, US 69 began straight ahead (just as MN 13 begins that way today). About a mile ahead, we reach the current north beginning of US 69. The photo below is from westbound Main (historic westbound US 16, now northbound MN 13):

Morrison, May 2004

MN 13 continues to the right, and US 69 begins to the left. Below is the signage looking the opposite direction (east on CR 46):

Morrison, May 2004

Though not indicated on this sign, US 69 begins to the right. Since this segment of the road is no longer under state jurisdiction, Jeff theorizes this sign may date back to a time when US 16 still ran through here: instead of the MN 13 sign on the right, there may have been a "US 16" shield originally.

Also in 1935, the south end of US 69 was extended to its present terminus in Port Arthur TX; you can view photos from there on this page.