As a boy in the 1980's, I was fascinated with Florida's highways and railroads but even more fascinated with road signs. These included speed limit signs, green city mileage signs, and, of course, highway designation signs (county road, state road, interstate, and the colored U.S. highway signs.) I grew up in the Tampa area, and my grandparents lived near Ocala. Over the years, I have retained vivid memories of signs that stood out to me on road trips and wanted to share some particularly interesting ones. I have yet to find information on the internet about some of what I have written below and hope someone else can enjoy sharing these memories with me. I regret the fact that I was not a photographer back then. If so, I would have a treasure trove of images to put on the net and share. I, most likely, would have had the most popular collection of Florida road pics on the internet.
Now, here are some unique things I remember clearly about all the road trips I went on as a child and teenager:
-A C-579 keys shield was on Morris Bridge Rd south of S.R. 54.
-Around 1985, when S.R. 54 was downgraded to a county road between Land O' Lakes and Zephyrhills, "C" and "COUNTY" stickers were placed on the state road shields.
-New River used to be signed at the bridge that went over it on SR 54.
-While on the topic of S.R. 54, not many people know that Hwy. 54 East of Zephyrhills had a different alignment than it does now. 54 (5th Ave.) used to go straight across Gall Blvd and through downtown Zephyrhills. It then turned north on 12th St. and went all the way to present day CR 54/Wire Road. There are old concrete State Road Department Right-of-Way markers on 12th St. to prove this. See my "Finding Old State Roads in Florida" post for more info. on these markers. It then turned east to follow its current alignment. At the current intersection with CR Alt 54/CR 54A, it turned north and followed CR Alt 54's current alignment. So CR Alt 54 is actually old SR 54. It ended at SR 35A. I have a theory that Wire Road in Zephyrhills may be old U.S. 301 because of it's diagonal approach to current U.S. 301 and the direct routing to 12th St./ downtown Zephyrhills. I can't find anything to prove this, yet.
-A C-530 keys shield was on Otis Allen Road at Wire Road.
-Near the McDonalds, a two-lane overpass on U.S. 301 went over Fort King Rd. and a decommissioned railroad that was removed shortly after I was born.
-Where Fort King Rd. originally ended at U.S. 301, just north of 12th Ave., there were yellow U.S. 301 shields at the end of Fort King Rd. I remember a green mileage sign at 12th Ave. with Tampa 29 / Sarasota 80 on it.
-On 5th Ave., east of Gall Blvd, there was a yellow JCT 301 sign.
-A C-581 keys shield was on 30th St. (now Bruce B. Downs Blvd.) at S.R. 54 in Wesley Chapel. This intersection only had a stop sign with a blinking red light,and both roads were two-lane.
-A C-577 keys shield was on CR 577/Curly Rd. northbound at SR 54, and I remember another keys shield was in St. Joseph just north of St. Joe Rd.
-South of Dade City, a railroad crossed U.S. 98/301 at Morningside Drive for the Evans citrus packing plant.
-7th Street was signed U.S. 98/301 on Meridian Ave. (I remember the yellow 301 and black 98 JCT signs) and Old Lakeland Highway was signed U.S.98. This confused me because I didn't understand why U.S. 98 was split like that. It also confused me seeing a U.S. 301/ U.S. Bus 98 assurance sign on 7th St. just south of Lock St. Click here to view this sign: http://www.aaroads.com/shields/show.php?image=FL19640983
In the early 70's before the Dade City bypass was built, Meridian Ave. east of 7th St. was signed S-35A, and SR 52 ended at 7th St. In two old photographs of a parade I found on the internet, I saw S-35A keys shields on 7th St and Meridian Ave. Click on these links for the photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ghs1922/6580786943/in/photostream/ . Also this one: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ghs1922/6580786111/in/photostream/
-A C-35A keys shield used to be in front of Dick Jarrett Ford right off the 98 Bypass.
-North of Dade City at the Lykes Citrus Plant, a railroad diagonally crossed U.S.98/301.
-South of Lacoochee, there were two overpasses on U.S. 98/301, south of the U.S. 98 split, that crossed a railroad junction (one railroad it crossed is now the Withlacoochee State Trail)
-A State Road 585 keys shield used to be on Rowlett Park Dr. at Waters Ave.
-A C-585A keys shield used to be on McKinley Dr. at Fowler Ave.
-A C-598 keys shield used to be on Lambright St. just east of Dale Mabry Hwy.
-On I-275 north of Tampa, there were big green overhead signs with "Fla" and the state road number on them. For example, for Busch Blvd., the signs had "Fla 580" on them and Fowler Ave. had "Fla 582" on them. The overhead signs at the very left would have "Thru Traffic" on them. Also, Buffalo Ave. (now Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd) did not have a state road designation that it does now (SR 574.)
-On westbound Busch Blvd. at North Blvd., there was a green FDOT directional sign with a left arrow and "Fairyland Zoo."
-In Belleview, state road 25 from 27/301/441 to SR 35 used to be a county road in the 80's. I remember seeing State Road 25 shields patched with a "C" and "COUNTY" stickers at the intersection with 27/301/441.
-I remember U.S. OLD 301 and U.S. OLD 441 north of Ocala (now C.R.200A and C.R.25A, respectively) and the yellow OLD 301 and brown OLD 441 signs.
-On US 301/441 north of Ocala, there were rectangular street signs with "SR 25/SR 200" on them at intersections . These signs confused me because I didn't know that in Florida U.S. highways are given a state road designation. Today some U.S. highways still have state road rectangular street signs. For example, in Chiefland, U.S. Alt 27 is signed SR 500 on a traffic light post, while U.S. 19/98 is signed SR 55.
-In the early 80's, I remember seeing a blue pentagon county road 301 sign where NE 160 Ave Rd begins at CR 316 east of Ft. McCoy. I thought it was funny that there were two different Hwy 301s in Marion County. Also, how can I forget the big bridge over the Oklawaha River on CR 316. After crossing the bridge, my parents had to pull over because I got sick to my stomach. The spelling of Oklawaha is correct for that time period, even though it was recently changed to Ocklawaha.
Last, but not least, I enjoyed all the colored U.S. highway signs that were up at that time. The only ones I ever saw personally were for U.S. 1, 17, 19, 27, 41, 90, 92, 192, 231, 301, 319, and 441. I only saw a U.S. 129 sign one time, at the intersection with I-75, and I barely could see it because it was night. I never saw any U.S. 29, U.S. 331, U.S. 221, and U.S. 23 signs, and I remembered being obsessive about what their colors were.
More "memories" will be posted as they come to mind. If you ever visited or lived in the areas above and would like to share your road memories, please post a comment. Also, visit my Flickr page and the sites in the "My Links" column to see some of the highway signs I enjoyed back then.
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