End of US highway 85
|Approx. time period||North terminus||South terminus|
|1926-1940||(near Ambrose, ND)||Las Cruces, NM|
|1940-1946||(near Fortuna, ND)||Las Cruces, NM|
|1946-1974||(near Fortuna, ND)||El Paso, TX (Montana/Yandell)|
|1974-present||(near Fortuna, ND)||El Paso, TX (downtown crossing)|
|Signs removed between:||Castle Rock, CO||Colorado Springs, CO|
|Signs removed between:||Fountain, CO||Anthony, TX|
US 85 was an original 1926 route. At the time its south end was in Las Cruces NM (from there, it was US 80 that carried traffic into El Paso). The photo below is looking east on Picacho Avenue:
Nelson, Nov. 2005
That was once eastbound US 80 - it continued ahead a couple blocks to Main Street, where it turned south (right). To the left on Valley Drive was the original south beginning of US 85.
Far off in North Dakota, approaching the north end of US 85 - instead of veering west and then north at Fortuna ND to Canada (as it does now) - US 85 was routed east and then north through Ambrose to that port of entry. Here's a view looking north from there into Canada:
Nelson, May 2007
In 1940 the north end of US 85 was shifted to its present terminus: about 9 miles north of Fortuna ND, at the port of entry into Canada. Although there was no "End" sign, the photo below shows the north end of US 85:
If one were to continue across the border, they'd be on Saskatchewan provincial highway 35. Heading south on that highway, this is a view approaching the customs station:
In the photo below, we're right next to the building in the middle of the right-of-way; the north beginning of US 85 is just ahead, curving in the distance:
Near the excavator, the first trailblazer is posted, shown below:
The backside of that sign is visible in the first photo in this series, above.
Although US 85 runs all the way between the Canada and Mexico borders, it's integrity has been spoiled in New Mexico and Colorado. After I-25 and I-10 were built, US 85 was rerouted onto interstates all the way through NM. So apparently in 1990 the state decided it was a superfluous route, and nearly all signs have been removed. Travelling north from El Paso, the last US 85 sign you'll see for about 560 miles is where traffic is directed from the frontage road and co-signed with the interstate:
Elbert, Mar. 2006
Bobby Magill wrote in 2004 to let me know there are a handful of US 85 signs still remaining in NM, but they're all relics that refer to the historic (pre-interstate) route. Along the implied (interstate) route, there's no mention of US 85 from Texas to halfway through Colorado. Unlike New Mexico, Colorado hasn't completely eliminated US 85; however CDoT doesn't multiplex it with interstates. Instead, they officially consider US 85 to have 3 separate segments in the state. The southernmost segment begins at I-25's interchange 128 at Fountain:
For some reason, until sometime in 2003, CDoT apparently wanted to keep US 85 a "secret" route for northbound traffic; this end was not signed from I-25 at all (it is now, though). You had to go into downtown Fountain before seeing any indication that you were on US 85:
That was on Santa Fe Avenue, just past Illinois Avenue. When I last visited in November 2002, US 85 was signed quite well between here and the Colorado Springs city limits. But from Lake Avenue to the end of this segment (on Nevada Avenue at I-25's exit 140), signage was horrendous. Here's the north end of Colorado's south section of US 85:
That's northbound on Nevada. Historically, US 85 used to go straight ahead through downtown. Now its implied route is north on I-25 (to the left ahead), but that's not official, so there's no signage to that effect.
Colorado's "middle" segment of US 85 runs between I-25's exit 184 in Castle Rock and exit 208 in Denver (most of this segment is referred to locally as Santa Fe Drive). Then there's an implied (but almost entirely unsigned) multiplex with I-25 and I-70 through Denver, and then Colorado's northernmost segment of US 85 begins at exit 276 on I-70 and runs to the Wyoming line. You can view a few relevant photos on this page.