Saturday, September 30, 2023


The wonderful 3,205-mile U.S. highway with a great big name

Route 66 holds a special place in the hearts of folks who love to travel. If Route 66 is “The Mother Road,” does that make Highway 6 her little daughter? No, Highway 6 enjoys a much larger moniker: the Grand Army of the Republic Highway (named as such to honor the Union forces during the Civil War). This wonderful highway certainly lives up to its great big name.

Where is the Grand Army of the Republic Highway?

Highway 6 begins at Provincetown, MA, on the East Coast of the United States. From the Cape Cod area, this road stretches all the way to the West Coast, ending at Bishop, CA. See a map here.

Once known as the longest highway in the country, Highway 6 has been modified several times and those modifications altered the highway’s position from the longest to second longest, at 3,205 miles in length. Still quite a stretch of road, Highway 6 passes through a total of 14 different states as it makes its way from coast to coast across America.

History of the Grand Army of the Republic Highway

The first segment of Highway 6 was built in 1925. At that time, the road connected Massachusetts to New York. It wasn’t long before the highway continued through New York to Pennsylvania and was dubbed the “Roosevelt Highway.”

In the late 1920s, Highway 6 was extended into the Midwest states. In Iowa, some parts of the “River to River Road” became Highway 6—stretching from the Mississippi River in the east to the Missouri River along Iowa’s western border. Highway 6 also followed roadways previously known as the “Great White Way Highway,” where the utility poles along the route were painted white.

In 1931, Highway 6 was extended into Colorado, and the highway gained its transcontinental stature when it was completed in California in 1937.

My experience

Recently, my husband and I traveled over Highway 6 through Iowa and Nebraska. Along this route, we enjoyed The Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, the Valle Drive-In Theater, and the Atlantic Bottling Company in Iowa.

In Nebraska, we toured the Strategic Air and Space Museum outside Omaha and the bustling Haymarket District in Lincoln.

All along Highway 6 we saw evidence of days gone by, along with restored icons: original gas stations, motels, hotels, soda shops, and restaurants. What’s more, the scenery was amazing: farmland, rolling hills, riverways, cattle country, and small-town America. The best part? The friendly, outgoing people we met along the way. Highway 6 certainly lived up to its big name—at least for us.

Have you traveled along the Grand Army of the Republic Highway? Tell us about it in the comments below.


Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.


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Bob boelens
1 month ago

One of the best museums of Americana is Harold Warps Pioneer Village in Minden, NE.
On US 6. If you appreciate our rich American heritage this place will knock your socks off.

Diane McGovern
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob boelens

Hi, Bob. I’m very sorry it took so long to approve your first comment. I didn’t realize our sometimes-overzealous filter put it straight into the Spam folder.😲 Your comments will now post immediately and not have to wait for approval (unless the filter messes up again🙄). Have a great day. 😀 –Diane at

2 months ago

I drove RT 6 across Illinois and Iowa many time to go to college, until I-80 was built, and got me back and forth faster, but really boring.

K Sage
2 months ago

I grew up in Towanda, PA where Rt 6 and Rt 220 intersect. Have only traveled 6 in PA and NY but that’s some gorgeous country.

Joe veon.
2 months ago

Route 6 through the northern tier of Pennsylvania is quite scenic especially Tioga County. A short detour to visit Wellsboro is recommended.

Ed M.
2 months ago

In 2019, I drove the entire length of U.S. 6 starting in Provincetown and including the original routing from Bishop CA to downtown Long Beach CA. Interesting fact is that in pre-Interstate days, U.S. 66 was not the longest highway starting with the number ‘6’ that left Los Angeles Metro headed east. It wasn’t even the second longest. As noted, U.S. 6 left Long Beach and headed for Cape Cod. Rt. 60 left downtown L.A. and ended in Virginia Beach at the boardwalk. Rt. 66 only went to Chicago.

Steve H
2 months ago

Before I-70 was built through the Colorado Rockies, two-lane US 6 was the highway we had to take to the ski areas west of Denver–Loveland Basin and Arapahoe Basin. Driving a rear-wheel drive car in mid-winter on US 6 over 12,000′ Loveland Pass to reach A-Basin was almost as exciting as skiing the West Wall of the cirque in wet leather boots on 7′ wooden skis!

Steve in atl
2 months ago

Although he denied the claim, a cousin of mine, many decades ago, rerouted us6 into an Iowa cornfield. Several trucks a bus and cars endeded up there.

Steve in Little Rock
2 months ago

Hwy 6 and my family will always be linked. The sixth generation farm was just south of Hwy 6 near Hastings, Ne. My parents and brother were born in Hastings, I was born in Lincoln. We lived one block off one of the early Hwy 6 alignments in Omaha. Several other relatives lived just a few miles off the route from Chicago to Denver. Six connected us all.
I recently climbed Mt. Whitney California and went to Bishop just to see where the road ends today. U.S. 6 is my history.

Bob Walter
2 months ago

While Rt 6 has its allure, US 30 is much more exciting.

Steve in Little Rock
2 months ago
Reply to  Bob Walter

US 30 is a tad older than 6. Before the introduction of route numbers, it was known as the Lincoln Highway. It was the first coast to coast marked route. You can still find markers along the original route.

Hwy 6 was known as the DLD route before numbers. It stood for Detroit Lincoln Denver road.
There were several named routes before the numbers were assigned and the names live on in towns where they passed as the local street still has the name.

2 months ago

U.S. route 6 runs through our town here in north central Pennsylvania, and as a retired over the road truck driver I have traveled a fair amount of U.S. route 6.

2 months ago

Thanks for the info, I’d never heard of hwy 6 and I am now intrigued. I bounced off this article and went to Amazon to see if there was a book about it and found one and ordered it. Sounds like it could be an interesting journey.

2 months ago

We live a block off Hwy 6 in Smethport PA, so we travel a portion of it on a daily basis! But I never realized that it continued past Erie, PA. Learned something new! It can be a beautiful drive thru northern PA, many quaint Victorian towns, but not a lot of services (at least from central to western PA.)

2 months ago

Did route 66 become famous because of the song or TV show or did the song and TV show come along because of the road was famous? Can’t help but think if the song never came a long would people now days would have ever heard of it.

2 months ago
Reply to  Terry

Terry that’s a good chicken or egg question. Development of paved cross-country roads was still a new thing at the beginning of Route 66 existence. The instant success caused the explosion of transportation and tourist businesses along the route. The song and TV show came later. Since the decommissioning of the US route I imagine the song has become the main reason for the continuation of Rte 66 in public awareness. For many of us older whipper snappers Rte 66 has a nostalgic draw of family roadtrip vacations thru mysterious lands with magical and awe inspiring sights along the way. A time when our immediate family was bound the closest connection each other thru the shared miles.

Bob Walter
2 months ago
Reply to  Terry

Rt 66 became famous during the depression when “dust bowlers” moved to California. Grapes of Wrath placed it in history.

Last edited 2 months ago by Bob Walter
Bob P
2 months ago
Reply to  Terry

When I was 16 we lived a 1/2 mile off 66 outside of Chicago where it begins. I would fill my gas tank on my ‘53 Chevy ($5) and start driving west. That was when the interstate 55 was being built, I would drive for 3/4 tank of gas and turn around fill up again and drive back home. It would be 5 miles of 66 and 5 miles of I 55 then back to 66. I guess that’s where I got my love of driving.

2 months ago
Reply to  Terry

Route 66 is famous because I drove it every week end, 150 miles, from Chicago to Normal, IL. Then, I-55 took the romance out of the drive.

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