I’ve gotten into arguments on this one… it’s Pacific Highway in San Diego, not Pacific Coast Highway, as it is in Orange County and points north.

So here’s something for your Throwback Thursday… the 1915 Rand McNally Official Auto Trails Map of the United States and way down in the bottom corners are San Diego and the Pacific Highway, courtesy of archive.org and, Lincoln Financial Foundation and Friends of The Lincoln Collection of Indiana, Inc., which posted the item.

Before the U.S. Highway designations came along in 1926, Auto Trails were somewhat unofficial routes generally defined by signs on trees and other natural monuments to help these early motorists get from one place to another. They also were used by communities to attract trucks and tourists — so getting on an Auto Trail was a big deal.

Back to the local designation. Pacific Highway in San Diego runs north from Harbor Drive and Seaport Village in downtown San Diego, to around Sea World Drive, where it now disappears. It was once designated U.S. 101, but today is just a street. And here’s a picture from Google Earth.

Google Streetview of Pacific Highway and Barnett Street in San Diego.
Google Streetview of Pacific Highway and Barnett Street in San Diego.

And, by the way, this is far from the original route of Pacific Highway. This expressway was built during World War II because of the airport, Convair aircraft plants, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Naval Training Center… well, I could go on. It was built during the war as something tagged as essential for the war effort.

Adding to the confusion is that several Auto Trails sometimes used the same or similar route. Don’t like that Auto Trail? Make up your own. El Camino Real isn’t on this map, but also connected to San Diego. Let’s not get into things like the Bankhead Highway and Old Spanish Trail and the Dixie Overland Highway… I’m going crazy.

Pacific Coast Highway starts in Dana Point, Calif., and runs off and on to points north of San Francisco. It’s generally signed as California Highway 1. So there.


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