End of US highway 383
Photo credits: Michael Summa; me
|Approx. time period||North terminus||South terminus|
|1942-1964||Elm Creek, NE||Oakley, KS|
|1964-1982||Alma, NE||Oakley, KS|
During its relatively short lifespan of 40 years, the south end of US 383 was in Oakley KS. Today US 83 traffic is directed onto US 40 for one mile, and it bypasses Oakley to the west. But when US 383 was around, highway traffic was routed right through town (383 was co-signed with US 83). So this is looking south on Freeman Avenue (the former alignment of US 83/383) at US 40:
me, Nov. 2001
The US 383 designation ended there, but US 83 continued south on its own. Here's how that assembly looked in 1985:
The shot below is on westbound US 40 at Freeman:
me, Nov. 2001
Northbound US 83 used to turn to the right there, and northbound US 383 began there with it. The signage at far right is for traffic on northbound US 83. The photo below shows the equivalent assembly that was posted there in 1985:
Interesting how many things have changed. At the time, mainline US 83 still ran through town (straight ahead; and that used to be the south beginning of US 383 as well). Today's northbound US 83 (to the west, or left) was signed as "Truck 83". And finally, you can see how a "Business I-70" used to be signed through town as well.
The original north end of US 383 was in Elm Creek NE. For its entire length through Nebraska (50 miles), 383 was co-signed with US 183; the two routes didn't split until just south of the Kansas line. From there, US 183 went more or less due south, serving Phillipsburg and Hays. US 383 headed southwest to Norton, and at Selden joined with US 83, with which it was co-signed for another 40 miles south to US 40 at Oakley. So you can see why it was decommissioned: it was co-signed with other US highways for over half of its 165-mile length.
The north end of US 383 was not where US 183 meets US 30 today. The map below shows how things used to be arranged in Elm Creek:
USGS, c. 1981
At the time of that map (and for many years before that) US 183 came in from the south on the red dashed road at bottom center. It turned due east on Clark Avenue, then north again to connect with US 30 via one of the two roads shown in red (the left road is Church Street, and the right road is Mill Street. If you know which one was signed as the highway, please let me know).
If you're familiar with Elm Creek, you'll know that things have changed quite a bit since that map was made. Today the road marked US 183 at upper left continues south, bypassing town to the west, and then curving to connect with the original US 183 off to the south. When I was there in 2000, US 183's junction with US 30 was a standard four-way at-grade intersection. But by the time of my next visit (2005), there was a new viaduct carrying US 183 traffic over US 30 and the railroad. Below is a view looking north on US 183:
me, Aug. 2005
Today US 183 curves left here to its junction with US 30 on the west side of town. But originally it went straight ahead... and until 1964, that was also northbound US 383. Right in front of the red and white truck in the distance, the route turned right on Clark... and that's about all I know for sure. The map above is the only historic one I've seen, and it's not conclusive as to whether US 183/383 used Church or Mill to get to US 30 (although Church seems more likely to me). At any rate, the railroad crossings on both of those roads have been vacated now, making it difficult to get relevant photos. The only crossing now is at Tyler Street, which runs between the other two streets. Heading east on Clark, I observed an unusual sign at Tyler...
me, Aug. 2005
...but I don't have any reason to believe that was ever US 183/383. Church is one block behind the camera, and Mill is at the "T" intersection in the distance. Anyway - whatever road the highway used - northbound US 383 ended where it joined US 30. Northbound US 183 continued by turning left with westbound US 30 for about a mile, and then went north via its current route.
In 1964, the US 383 designation was truncated to Alma NE. The photo below is looking north on US 183 at US 136 (7th Avenue):
me, Nov. 2001
Today's US 183 skirts the west edge of town. Originally US 183/383 went right through town, using Church Avenue and Division Street. But when Harlan County Reservoir was built in the 1950s (just south of town), a new road had to be built to carry 183/383 traffic. So US 383 never ended right in town - by the time it had been truncated to Alma, the highway had been rerouted to the new alignment shown above (thanks to Jesse Whidden for the timeline). That intersection marked the north end of US 383 until its decommissioning in 1982.