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Odd Wisconsin Archive

Call of the Open Road

Although William Rand and Andrew McNally opened a print shop 1856, it was not until 1916 that they started publishing maps. They issued their first road atlas in April of 1924 and have sold 150 million copies since. Their company's name has become synonymous with finding one's way by car .

So how did driver's find their way around before then? When cars were a novelty, gas stations few and far between, and roads trampled to lumps of mud by horses, drivers traveled town to town using manuals such as this 1910 Blue Book. Because street signs were rare, it guided drivers from one landmark to the next. And because cars were unreliable, mechanics all across the state placed advertisements in it.

For more early automobile pictures, trade catalogs, advertisements, and background information, visit the automobile culture page and travel and tourism page at Turning Points in Wisconsin History.

:: Posted in Curiosities on April 15, 2005
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