I’m sort of a history nut, so when our mapping and engineering policy groups started building the Missouri Highway Map Archive, I got into it. Those old maps were just the kind of historical gems I loved to bump into.
They were like snapshots of Missouri’s transportation history. It wasn’t just seeing the network of highways spread across their pages over the decades that was cool. It was the design of the covers, the Art Deco fonts from the 1930s, the flowery official language on the panels, the cover photos and layouts. All the details that captured the time period when they were printed. Even the map legends reflected issues of days gone by. Descriptions like “Earth Road Graded by State -- But Not All Weather” or designations for “Big Game Preserves” echoed values and concerns from a different era.
Now you can view these archives in PDF form at www.modot.org/historicmaps. They are printable but we scanned them at almost full size to maintain as much detail as we could. They won’t fit on 8 1/2 by 11 paper -- unless you want to print them in sections – so you may just want to view them on your computer screen. Either way, if you are a history buff or just interested in seeing what old Missouri road maps looked like, take a minute and check out these glimpses of our past. They show a changing picture of Missouri you just can’t get anywhere else.