Maps and petrolinia from Texaco and Mobil, itself part of ExxonMobil, are also highly prized by collectors. The era of free road maps, distributed by the major oil companies, ended in the Seventies in the aftermath of the 1973 OPEC oil embargo. By 1984, free road maps were history.
(The question of which AAA materials I have in my collection--maps, magazines, vintage Tour Books, and Triptiks--must wait for a future column.)
For years, most states have commissioned road maps as a means to encourage tourism, resulting in a subset of the road map collector hobby: Many collectors specialize in getting every map issued by a particular state, many of which are still free and issued every year.
Various toll roads also issued their own road maps. These maps are of special interest to collectors who are fans of a particular road, such as the Garden State Parkway in my home state of New Jersey.
In the era leading up to the building of the Interstates, associations often banded together in an attempt to pre-vent road trippers from detouring off the traditional U.S. highways and onto the superhighways. The best known was the Ocean Highway Association, which promoted a "Pines to Palms" route from New York City to Miami along U.S. Highways 130, 13, 17, 1.
Often published by Rand McNally and sold by oil companies as well as by local and regional businesses, 48- and 50-state atlases are another important part of the road map universe. They are a great way to enter the hobby inexpensively via such auction websites as eBay.
Like individual road maps, atlases published in the Sixties, Seventies, and Eighties are a good way to chart the evolution towards completion of the Interstate Highway System.
Then there are the difficult-to-catalog maps. When rummaging through a collection of car brochures at Faxon Auto Literature in Riverside, California years ago, I found some unique single sheet maps.
They were produced locally for what appears to be a TV show hosted by Slim Barnard and distributed by Southern California Ford Dealers. The maps I have are dated 1966-1967, and the clever cartographer was someone named Howard Burke.
The maps I picked up that day include the Panamint Valley east of Death Valley, Newport Beach in Orange County, the Trinity Alps in Northern California and Oregon, and several trips in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties in Southern California.
Also included is an off-road adventure to the petroglyphs and prehistoric bones of camels and horses in the Mojave region north of Barstow, California (see image below).
That map, called Bronco Country, suggests using Ford's compact Bronco SUV (new at the time) to explore the region southeast of Newberry to access more Indian petroglyphs in the Rodman Mountains south of Route 66.
When time permits, I plan to follow Slim's itineraries. Meanwhile, I will be scanning some of the maps and adding them to the Automotive Traveler Road Map Image Gallery. Feel free to take a look at the cover art of some of the maps in my collection online.
Road maps certainly do freeze a time long past. On my next trip to San Francisco, when I have a Ford Mustang and Dodge Charger at my disposal, I will bring along my Standard Oil 1968 street map of the City by the Bay.
That's right--I'm planning to trace the route, as best I can, of the famous chase scene from the Steve McQueen 1968 classic, Bullitt.
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