Illinois map
Wisconsin map

Why was Highway 57 called Highway 57?

The Information Highway and all that...

And 57 happened to be the number in our street address. That's all, folks.

But when we decided to call ourselves Highway 57, we did ask around on the Net, particularly in the US, in case there was anything we ought to know about that particular road. Nothing special, apparently, but we did get some other interesting information...

Camel facing left

William P Jones told us:

The only known camel rampage in the United States took place just south of Chicago on Highway 57 in June of 1937. Times were tough and someone decided to raid the zoo for food... You get the picture.

The only Highway 57 we knew about was the one shown in the Illinois map on the right, but we also received this from John F. Campbell, evidently concerning a different Highway 57 (though maybe it was once a continuation):

Here in Wisconsin, Highway 57 runs between the Cities of Milwaukee and Green Bay. It has a very long and rich history, running back several thousand years!

For most of its lifespan it was a major trail for various Indian groups who inhabited or passed through the area (part of a major trade network). When the French arrived they took to using it for the same purposes as the locals. When we Anglos arrived it was improved and called the Military Road. Soon after, the Milwaukee Road Railroad laid its tracks adjacent to it (by that time much of the Military Road had been planked - with wooden planks of course - and referred to as a Plank Road). The next major change was brought about by the advent of the Automobile... which eventually caused it to be paved, but still called the Military Road. When the desire to number roads arrived the number 57 was pulled from a hat.

Highway 57 was still referred to as the Military Road by Older Folks when I was a wee lad. After one of our States Military Divisions had distinguished itself, Highway 57 took on a second name: the Red Arrow Highway (which is the name the Military Division uses). So, when driving on that Highway today you see both signs: Highway 57 and Red Arrow Division Route.

There's enough history along Highway 57 to fill a couple of books and it's still an interesting drive at any time of the year.

John's Highway 57 in Wisconsin sounds very different from the one in Illinois, regarded by everyone who responded as a very boring ride! Apart from the camel rampage, of course. Our thanks to William, John and all the others who told us the name was OK.