US 20 and the Yankee Road

The word ‘road’ can be used in a lot of ways. In The Yankee Road, I use it to mean a physical road, in this case a mostly 2-lane highway designated as US 20 in 1926 and added to in or about 1940, extending from Boston to Newport, Oregon. But more so, I see it as a cultural path that came out of an English colonial ‘ethnic group’ whose experiences from 1620 on created a culture that came to dominate, first the northern tier of the United States, then the country itself and now is making steady inroads into the cultural mix that is the world. Call it an Empire of the Mind, if you want.

This is not a tour book. My intent is not to just travel the thousands of miles of US 20 and describe its people, terrain and attractions. You can find that done better in a section of Jamie Jensen’s Road Trip USA. It is not to collect and comment on a variety of themes and commentaries on places along the Road. That is done in Mac Nelson’s Twenty West. Michael Czarnecki, a New York poet, has published an account of his trip on US 20 to give poetry readings in Twenty Days on Route 20. There are a lot of road books that include stretches of US 20 and interviews with people along it. Finally, if you want a real historical travel treat, get copies of the dozen, old WPA State Guides and see what the Road looked like about 75 years ago. I am up to something different. That is coming up…

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