Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



When did ribbons of highway earn stripes?

Dear Answer Man, I was born and raised in Spring Valley, Minn. When I was a youngster, the state of Minnesota did not paint stripes on highways for a few years because it was too expensive. Can you tell me what year that was? Thank you. — John Metcalf, Fort Myers, Fla.

John, you should be out on the beach enjoying Fort Myers' weather, rather than questioning ancient history in Minnesota. I know it's cold down there right now, but still...

Two states claim to be the first to paint a center line on highways, California and Michigan. According to Michigan road historians, they originated in Wayne County in 1911 and were first painted on a Michigan state highway in 1917, which is also the year they appeared on a California highway.

I haven't heard of Minnesota scrimping on painting stripes on highways, during the Depression or any other time. I checked a few road sources and got nowhere. If any helpful readers want to steer me in the right direction, send a note.

If ever Minnesota couldn't afford a little paint for roads, it would be this year, with the projected $6.2 billion budget deficit. Hopefully MnDOT has a few cans in the warehouse.

What To Read Next
Get Local