A Guide to Wisconsin Automobile Routes, 1916

The Call of the Open Road: Helpful Maps of Wisconsin Tours


When this guide was published, Wisconsin roads were mostly unpaved, rutted trails that had been designed for horses and wagons. Few if any of them had names or accurate signs, and there were equally few maps. People traveling between cities were expected to take the train.

To call attention to these problems, and to help motorists, Milwaukee Journal writer William W. ("Brownie") Rowland began driving around the state, writing a humorous column about his experiences, and providing information to drivers. In 1916, the Journal published this first edition of his Call of the Open Road, an annual booklet intended to help drivers navigate from one place to another.

Rowland also formed the Journal Tour Club in 1920, which grew to 45,000 members. Throughout the Roaring Twenties his pamphlet and its maps were a standard reference for intrepid drivers. The last booklet was published in 1933, by which time the state was numbering highways and issuing its own official information about the best routes.

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Related Topics: The Progressive Era
Automobile Culture
Creator: Rowland, William W.
Pub Data: Milwaukee: The Milwaukee Journal, 1916
Citation: Rowland, William W. The Call of the Open Road: Helpful Maps of Wisconsin Tours (Milwaukee, Wis.: Milwaukee Journal, 1916). Online facsimile at:  http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/turningpoints/search.asp?id=1680; Visited on: 7/26/2014
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