Where US 50 begins (or ends, depending on your perspective)

Where US 50 begins

3,073 miles. That’s how long US 50 is. And it begins — or is it ends? — right here, in Ocean City, Maryland.

Its other end is in West Sacramento, California, not in Sacramento as the sign promises. A sign in West Sacramento tells drivers that Ocean City is 3,073 miles away. It’s a famous sign pairing among us roadgeeks. It was even more famous during a time when the West Sacramento sign erroneously read 3,037 miles.

US 50 is one of the original US highways, designated in 1926. But where it has ended has changed several times. Originally, it stretched from Sacramento to Annapolis, MD. Its west end was moved to Hayward, CA, in 1932, and to San Francisco in 1935. Its east end moved to this location in Ocean City in 1948. Finally, in 1972 its west end moved to its present location in West Sacramento.

The route in between has changed many times over the years thanks to various upgrades and bypasses. The changes keep coming, such as one being built now around North Vernon, Indiana. It will add two miles to the route. It makes me wonder how these 3,073 miles are counted. When the new North Vernon alignment opens, will the signs be amended to 3,075 miles?

I’ve driven US 50, including its old alignments, across Indiana and most of Illinois; see everything I’ve written about this road here. I’d like to drive the rest of it someday, on one giant road trip.

If I set my trip odometer at one end and check mileage at the other, do you think the Departments of Transportation in California and Maryland will be interested to know?

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19 responses to “Where US 50 begins (or ends, depending on your perspective)”

  1. Photography Journal Blog Avatar

    It could be a whole blog series, the Dept. of Transportation should sponsor you :)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Ooo, I never thought about seeking sponsorships for my road trips! :-)

      1. Photography Journal Blog Avatar

        Your photos would certainly be good enough :)

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          Why thank you!

  2. DougD Avatar

    Jim, what vehicle would you choose for your road trip of US50?

    I have a suggestion but I’ll wait for you first :)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Good question! The pragmatic side of me says to just drive my Passat. It’s a fine road car!

      1. DougD Avatar

        Ignore the pragmatic side of yourself and drive this:


        Then you could dress in period clothes, and use a 1930’s camera too. Much more fun.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          The romance of it appeals to me! But a buddy of mine drove the entire Lincoln Highway in a ’63 Valiant (a 50 year old car on the road’s 100th anniversary) and his tales of breakdown woe puts me off the whole cross-country-in-an-old-car thing!

  3. Chris and Carol Avatar

    Really neat that they do that. I-10 begins in downtown Jacksonville and heads due west until it reaches the LA area. I wish they would have a sign loke this giving the distance to Los Angeles.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It would be fun if all the coast-to-coast highways did this!

  4. Chris and Carol Avatar

    “LIKE” vice “loke”

  5. TBM3Fan Avatar

    Driving right past where US 50 meets US 80 and then disappears while on my way to Auburn for the day from Concord.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      There you have it, this blog has just gone from coast to coast!

  6. Kurt Ingham Avatar
    Kurt Ingham

    I’d be interested (in your odo. reading)!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Well, if I ever do the trip I’ll be sure to reset the trip odo at the beginning!

  7. davidvanilla Avatar

    Yes, sponsorship is a great idea! In any event my wish for you is that you do get to drive 50 to its west end.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      There are several roads I’d like to clinch in this way. US 40 too. There isn’t enough vacation time away from work to do them all!

  8. One Whole Frugal Life Avatar

    I love this! The bank where I work is 151 years old and sits on Route 50 in Vinton County, Ohio. Come by over the July 4th holiday and you’ll see a giant flag on the front of our building. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The portion of US 50 in southeastern Ohio looks like it would be tons of fun to drive, and then to see all of the towns along the way!

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