Looking for obsolete road map sources online

Anyone know of a good online resource for out of date roadmaps?

I’m basically trying to reconstruct a journey I took by car in 1962, travelling from Wisconsin to Tulsa, Oklahoma and points beyond. Thus far I think we probably took Route 66 through Kansas, but access to better maps from that (and other) eras would sure help out with my quest.

Beyond old maps of that region, I am looking for an all-purpose resource for other old roadmaps, nationwide.


I don’t have an answer to this, but I’m hoping someone chimes in with relevant links. If not, I have a good sized pile of gas station road maps from that era and could just send you the relevant ones. My initial thought was that I could just scan them myself, but realistically, that would end up on the list of projects started and never completed. And that list is loooong.

These are two websites for Rte 66: http://www.historic66.com/description/ and http://www.theroadwanderer.net/66Oklahoma/route66OK.htm (map at the bottom of the page). A free mapquest app is available but I didn’t try it.

Try the Perry-Castenada Map Collection at the University of Texas. Here are a series of maps from 1970, which should be pretty close. The collection also has may old city maps and world maps.

Google Earth has a “history” tab that shows all old roads - some all the way back to 1880’s. I discovered it last year and think it’s pretty awesome!

Have you looked on eBay?

If you had asked this five years ago I could have given you a computer forms box full of old gas station maps, mostly of southern states. I tossed them after getting all sorts of flak for hoarding! :slight_smile:

Wow! Lotsa maps there!! Cool! :cool:

It may take me a while to track down the roadmaps.

I must investigate that…

Well, only a tiny portion (12 miles) of Route 66 went through the southeast corner of Kansas. If you remember any of the towns you visited, I’ll be happy to tell you the most likely routing.

Old road atlases, oil company maps, “official” state highway maps, and AAA regional maps are cheap and easy to find on eBay. The national group of roadmaps collectors can be found at www.roadmaps.org. A number of state DOTs have now posted their old highway maps on their own websites, though Oklahoma is not yet among them. The PCL map collection is strong in a lot of areas, but American road maps is not one of them. The useful stuff is still under copyright.

Don’t copyrights expire in 17 years? Are the states and oil companies wasting money renewing 17 year old maps?

Bet I got some 40 year old stuff in my hoard.

Who remembers when every service station had a big rack of maps?

Nothing published after 1923 can be safely assumed to be out of copyright, and each time the safe harbor date approaches the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, Disney makes sure Congress further extends the term. Copyright hasn’t required “renewal” since 1977.

No. Copyrights were originally 28 years with an additional 28 year extension, but anything that was under copyright as of 1978 went under the new law and keep copyright for 95 years from publication. Therefore maps from the 60s are still under copyright even if the company did nothing to renew.

The 17 year term is for trademarks.

The Borchert Map Library of the University of Minnesota is one of the major map libraries in the country. And you can search the library contents online to see if it has what you are looking for.

(It also has a list of links to other map libraries in the US, Canada, Europe & Australia.)

For Illinois:

The Newberry Library in Chicago has a huge road map collection, so vast that cataloguing might not be complete yet. Possible more convenient for you is the UW-Milwaukee, which also has a map library.

No, 17 years is for patents, not trademarks (which never expire, though they may lapse).

Not sure why people are posting the location of university map libraries. The OP is seeking a map from 1962, not 1862. Academic map libraries are generally quite weak in American highway maps, and the OP can just buy an old map or atlas off eBay for what it will cost to park on campus.

The Newberry Library in Chicago does, indeed, have the entire Rand McNally and Gousha archives. But almost none of its holdings are online, and it’s primarily an institution for serious researchers, requiring reader registration, paging by call number, and gloves for handling the materials. The AGS Collection at the UW-Milwaukee library is huge, and the Osher Map Library at the University of Maine also has a very large highway map collection.

Thanks for the offer, but I was 4 years old at the time. I remember the St. Louis arch, and that’s about it.

I’m really trying to figure out if I can count Kansas on my list of “states I’ve visited”. If so, it brings my total of “states yet to visit” down to 7.

I do love maps though, so will be following many of the provided links just for sheer pleasure.

But do the maps have any significant economic value? I’d venture a guess that copying a map for nostalgic purposes is going to be treated as fair use and/or “de minimis” (non curat lex…)

I don’t think so. There was no St Louis arch in 1962. It did not exist.

If you remember the Arch, it’s unlikely you went through Kansas. The Will Rogers Turnpike (part of I-44) had been open for several years at that point, and if your father was anything like mine, he wouldn’t have wasted time on 66 when there was a nice, new, smooth 4-lane divided highway that would have taken you to Tulsa.

By any chance do you remember stopping at a restaurant that stretched over the highway? That would have been the Glass House, a distinctive landmark on the Turnpike that later became a McDonalds.

Well hell, there goes another family legend, down in flames. All about our trip to the arch, on the way to Oklahoma.

The trip might have been the summer of '63, I suppose. Though then I’m sure the barely begun construction wouldn’t have been too impressive.