Our Swiftest Road

I might normally talk about the house, its previous owners and their life stories. But this time I’m going to talk about the road upon which it resides: Public Highway 15.

In Franklin County, Washington, there are roads with such names as Blackman Ridge Road, Overturf Road, and Wallace Walker Road. There are no Public Highway 4s or Public Highway 17s. There are, in fact, no other roads named Public Highway at all.

Looking to the only old highway maps I can find – two from 1965 – it seems like this road was unnamed. It was never a busy road, it never carried the bulk or even a large percentage of Franklin County’s traffic. It doesn’t even connect anything particularly major to anything else.

The road runs north and south for maybe fifteen miles. Maybe at one time it ran from a ford or ferry crossing on the Snake River to unknown points north. Without an older map, there’s no way to know.

Turning to an older topo map from 1916, the road isn’t even there. So, sometime between 1916 and 1965 someone built a road here and named it Public Highway 15, even though there appears to be no Public Highway 1-14. It’s hard to tell how old this house is, but probably around the 1920s.

I’m not a fan of being stumped. It’s possible that PH 1-14 existed, but also had other names. Over time, they all retained their regular names, while our dear Public Highway 15, a road otherwise unnamed, retained this boring moniker.

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‘Our Swiftest Road’

Camera: Seneca Chautauqua (c1905)
Film: Fomapan 100
Process: Rodinal 1+50; 9min

Public Highway 15, Franklin County, Washington

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2 thoughts on “Our Swiftest Road

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