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Maine's Named Highways

[Return to RoadsAroundME] Maine has had a selection of various named highways, mostly established by the legislature as a means to encourage tourism and economic development. With only one notable exception, these named highways existed in parallel to the state highway system, did not correspond to any present-day routing in and of themselves, and were never used by MDOT or the MSHC internally. Except for the Trans-Maine Trail, these named highways have all lapsed or been repealed, if they were even made law in the first place; for the relevant section in Maine state law, refer to Title 23 Highways, Part 1 State Highway Law, Chapter 23 Highway Designations, § 1951-1961. Despite this, their legislative names continue to be used on many maps and for local navigation.

Note what these highways are not: they are not references to the pole-marked trails, even the named trails, that predate the Maine highway system, since those mostly became future highways themselves and are therefore largely obsolete (see Maine's Pole Highways for those), nor does the term encompass the various commemorative names for highways, such as the Blue Star Memorial Highway (US 1) or the Gold Star Memorial Highway (Interstate 95). Some additional routes were listed in maps after 1946, such as the Blue Star and the Aroostock Scenic Highway (ME 11); in general, as these were tagged to specific sections of single highways, I believe these are better classed as commemorative highway names rather than legislative highways and I have not catalogued them here.

Normally given a side bar all to themselves, the legislative highways do not appear as such on any official map after 1953.

Routes are listed roughly in chronological order.

Air Line Road

Legislative Introduction
Never in law.
Aurora to Wesley

The Air Line Rd (sometimes rendered Airline Road) is a peculiarity with a murky past. Apparently constructed in the 1920s, it is the only named highway to appear in the state highway route logs and thus be a free-standing component of the 'numbered' highway system, and is named both in the logs and on the main map. On the 1925 initial state highways map, it is cryptically marked "Through woods, no accommodations" in the log (and "Air Line Road - not numbered" on the map) and has a total given length of 38.0 miles, appearing in the log between ME 179 and ME 180. Note that physically it only touched ME 179 as its western terminus; its eastern terminus was ME 192.

The name's origin is similarly unknown.

The Air Line Road continued to appear on maps and route logs through the Maine Great Renumbering, after which the routing was finally assigned a route number and incorporated into present-day new route ME 9 as it remains today.

Arnold Highway

Legislative Introduction
1931 (Ch. 276, P. & S. [obsolete])
Beginning at Brunswick Route US 201 to Maine-Quebec boundary line.

The Arnold Highway blurred the line between a legislative and commemorative highway, as it referred specifically to only one route (US 201). In the present day, this means both US 201 not the case when it was designated. Nevertheless, it occupies the same legislative position as the other named highways of the time period and so it is still listed here. Today, the term has lapsed legislatively but is still used to refer to the highway, even in state law (for example, Title 23, Ch. 15, Subchap. 1, Art. 2, §1201, 18 within the Turnpike laws).

The Arnold in Arnold Highway is Benedict Arnold, the notorious American Revolutionary War traitor; see US 201.

The Arnold Highway and the Arnold Trail are not the same.

Arnold Trail

Legislative Introduction
1933 (Ch. 98, P.L. [obsolete])
Beginning at North Anson Route 16 to Flagstaff; Route 149 from Flagstaff to Eustis; Route 4 to Maine-Canadian boundary line.

The Arnold Trail and the Arnold Highway are not the same, and it isn't clear if the Trail refers to Benedict Arnold as well.

Douglas Highway

Legislative Introduction
1937 (Ch. 60)
Beginning at US Route 1 in Ellsworth and extending southerly on Route 184 through Lamoine to Lamoine Beach.

Pine Tree Trail

Legislative Introduction
1937 (Ch. 43, P. & S. [obsolete])
Beginning in Portland, Route 100 to Bangor, Route US 2 from Bangor to Macwahoc; US 2 or Route 2 from Macwahoc to Houlton; Route US 1 from Houlton to Mars Hill; Route US 1A (now US 1) from Mars Hill to Presque Isle; US 1 from Presque Isle to Fort Kent -- or Route US 1 (now US 1A) from Mars Hill to Route 165; Route 165 (now US 1A) to Van Buren; Route US 1 from Van Buren to Fort Kent.

Moosehead Trail

Legislative Introduction
1939 (Ch. 74, P. & S. [obsolete])
Beginning at US Route 2 in Newport and extending over Route 7 to Dover-Foxcroft, thence over Route 15 to Greenville.

The Moosehead Trail is a very old routing and the name appears to have been synonymous with the Brunswick-Greenville Hwy alignment between Newport and Greenville, which it succeeded. Signage for the Moosehead Trail still exists, particularly on the co-signed portion of ME 6/ME 15/ME 16. The portion with ME 7 is also co-signed with ME 11.

Trans-Maine Trail

Legislative Introduction
1979 (Title 23, §1951)
Beginning at the Canadian border in Vanceboro, then westerly via Route 6, through Lincoln, Milo, Dover-Foxcroft and Guilford to Abbot, then westerly via Route 16 to Stratton and via Route 27 to the Canadian border at Coburn Gore. In addition, an alternate route shall be as follows: Beginning at Abbot then northerly via Route 15 through Greenville and Rockwood to Jackman and the Canadian border.

This very late legislative highway still occupies the prior niche of the earlier legislative routes and thus I still list it here. The last of the true legislative highways, it has special signage specified in the law.

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