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Get your kicks on Route, um, 20

WBUR takes a look at the highway that unites Kenmore Square and Newport, OR, 3,365 miles away - and reports that Tom Tinlin, the former Boston and then state highway czar who got the highway marker installed in Kenmore Square, is thinking of doing a road trip along the entire highway, the longest in the US.

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I remember being absolutely captivated when I was a kid when I would paw through an atlas and see that the road that ran through my little town went all the way out to Chicago and Yellowstone and Oregon. Also always dreamed about making that trip.

I finally got to go out to Newport a couple of years ago (by plane, alas, not by 3300 mile road trip) to see the sign. It's a cool little town with a good aquarium and the Sylvia Beach hotel, where all the rooms are themed after different authors.

Voting closed 22

Yup, it's Massachusetts.

Longest Interstate? Check (The Pike, which people in the outer Midwest—past Pittsfield—and beyond call "I-90)

Longest numbered road? Check: Route 20.

Second longest numbered road? Check: Route 6

Longest historic numbered road? Check: Also Route 6. It's only 30 miles shorter than Route 20 and it was truncated to Bishop in the '60s but originally went to Long Beach during which time it was was 3652 miles long, a good 300 miles longer than Route 20!

Voting closed 21

And imagine that when I jump on I-90 in South Dakota, it makes a little wave that travels all the way Massachusetts.

I've since been told that's not how it works.

Voting closed 14

You'll go through Oacoma.

Yes, that Oacoma.

Here's the thing:

Everyone is wrong (and the new signage just says "East of South Dakota" which is better). Oacoma is on the Missouri at a low spot (but the road does rise above 1724 feet west of town.

However, 25 miles east of Oacoma, I-90 reaches a high spot in Kimball. The USGS benchmark on that map is 1775 feet which, carry the one, is more than 1724 or 1729. So, South Dakota is right (even though Minnesota gets close). Oacoma is wrong.

Here's what the top of the hill looks like in Kimball.

Voting closed 5

If you click on that Google streetview image you can basically make out the Boston skyline in the distance. That makes sense since nothing should be blocking the view at that elevation.

Here's a screenshot for those too lazy to click the link.


Voting closed 17

...like, not "in the general vicinity of", but "highway ends here". Boston and Seattle, two cities I love.

Voting closed 5

When I was about 16 some friends and I got lost coming home from a concert at the Worcester Centrum (RATT & Bon Jovi). We stopped at a fire house in Stow at about midnight and banged on the door to ask the firefighters for directions. The guy asked where we were from and we told him Brighton. He pointed at the road in front of the fire house and said “See that street? That’s N. Beacon St., just follow it for about 25 miles. We were confused and he explained to us that it was Route 20 and to follow the signs and it would get us home. We were home about 30 minutes later.

Voting closed 8

Because Rt 20 doesn’t go through Stow!

Voting closed 7

a lot of that night is a bit hazy now but we were somewhere near stow and he got us to rte 20

Voting closed 4

Since part of Rt 20 goes through Yellowstone National Park, it's best not to try that road trip (or at least the part through Yellowstone) between about November 1 and May 15. Most of the roads in Yellowstone close to automobiles for the winter; the section between Old Faithful and Yellowstone Lake is only scheduled to open May 12, but that of course is weather-permitting.

Voting closed 5