Concrete Arrows

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by GSteve, May 5, 2016.

  1. GSteve

    GSteve Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2003
    Oddometer:
    2,150
    Location:
    NM desert
    I had heard of "concrete arrows", https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcontinental_Airway_System, that were used as navigational aids during the early years of the Transcontinental Airmail Service and found that was located at the airfield in Anthony Kansas.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    When I arrived at the airport the arrow wasn't readily apparent. The only aircraft on the field was a small helicopter with a two man crew that was going through the checklist prior to take-off. They waved me over and I asked the two young pilots if they knew about the arrow and they had no idea what I was talking about. It seems they were checking power lines in Kansas and were unaware of the old technology.

    As luck would have it an older gentleman had arrived to see what was going on with the helicopter. It turns out that he ran a cropdusting service and lived right next to the airport and showed me the arrow and the adjacent beacon. He also invited me to his house to meet his wife who knew all about both the beacon and the concrete arrow. After taking a few photos I dropped by and Mary Copenhaver gave me all the details about their arrow. Mrs. Copenhaver and several others had conducted a great deal of research and had collaborated on an article for the Kansas Magazine a few years ago.

    It seems the Postal Service hired Charles Lindbergh to chart airmail routes from Chicago to the West Coast. He determined locations for lighted beacons with a painted arrows pointing the way to the next beacon and arrow. These routes were to be flown both day and night.

    Mrs. Copenhaver gave me a copy of their article and a newspaper clipping from August 22, 1929. The article stated that electric power for the beacon light had just been turned on. However, the beacon would not be put into regular service until the runways were completed. There was also some local concern that the light would attract large numbers of insects and could be an issue.

    Most of the beacons throughout the country were decommisioned in the 1940s for the scrap metal during the war effort. There was also some worry that the beacons could be used by the Japanese or Germans to navigate the USA for bombing missions. Somehow the beacon at Anthony, Kansas escaped that fate and is still in operation. The arrow has seen better days as you can tell from the photos.

    Anyway, neat history, and nice people in the middle of America!

    [​IMG]
    #1
  2. nodigdigger

    nodigdigger n00b

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2016
    Oddometer:
    2
    Location:
    GB
    Great story all the best rides are where least expect them with local folks filling in little details along the way

    Two friends and I rode Route 66 a few years back no motorways as much of the original route as possible plus plenty of gravel dirt roads to little communities met some lovely people with local story's
    Looks like sun will be out today after work a ride to Brighton beach for fish and chip supper


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #2
    sealsam likes this.
  3. Kyron

    Kyron Oncler Inds

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,317
    Location:
    Phoenix Arizona ATR > Pacifica Ca PMA
    Pretty cool, ........... I see there's one in St George Utah. I'll have to stop by some time
    #3
    sealsam likes this.
  4. sealsam

    sealsam Sam...I am. Supporter

    Joined:
    May 30, 2010
    Oddometer:
    8,125
    Location:
    seal beach, ca.
    Actually, there are a number of them in the SG area, you now have another reason to go ride!

    http://wchsutah.org/aviation/navigation-arrows.php

    RedRockRider wasn't available this day, but it didn't stop me and the other pirates from checking out the one near Leeds.

    StG & simbaboy..

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #4
    popscycle, Chillis, simbaboy and 5 others like this.
  5. WYO George

    WYO George I have no idea

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2005
    Oddometer:
    6,877
    Location:
    left of nowhere, WY
    Great, another excuse for one of my nerdy Americana trips! My wife doesn't know you, but she probably hates you as I'll be adding these to my travel maps for side detours on family vacations and motorcycle trips!

    (Honestly though, she's mostly great with my love of history and oddities, although she did get a little irked when I detoured out family vacation by 300 miles just to stop and see the World's largest ball of twine!)

    Thanks for sharing.
    #5
  6. riiv

    riiv Street Smoker

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2015
    Oddometer:
    170
    Location:
    Utah
    Ah very cool! My history itch has me craving to go see these now.
    #6
  7. malibug

    malibug Anthony Pineda

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2009
    Oddometer:
    62
    Location:
    KILLEEN TEXAS
    Awesome pics guys!
    #7
  8. oldmanb777

    oldmanb777 Just say NO to socialism! It's a bad drug!

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2006
    Oddometer:
    9,321
    Location:
    Peoples republic of Kalifornia, East...Kolarado
    I have spent my whole life in the aviation world, and didn't know about those. I have seen them, but never put it together as to what they were about. Just never paid enough attention. Thanks for the lesson, I will be more observant next time I see a concrete arrow. I remember my Dad telling me about the lighted airways they flew in the 30's. And the dash-dot ear signals. Pretty neat compared to what we use now. Although my Dad thought the first MD-80 mode control panel I showed him was pretty neat as well. I grew up listening to all the stories about those flying years. Thanks again for sharing.
    #8
    Chillis and sealsam like this.
  9. c1skout

    c1skout Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,809
    Location:
    Western PA
    Hmmmm, wonder if any are left here in PA? Pretty cool, I hadn't heard of these either.
    #9
  10. sealsam

    sealsam Sam...I am. Supporter

    Joined:
    May 30, 2010
    Oddometer:
    8,125
    Location:
    seal beach, ca.
  11. GSteve

    GSteve Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2003
    Oddometer:
    2,150
    Location:
    NM desert
    We recently moved to Utah so it was time time find more of the "concrete arrows". The first one (beacon #61A) required some serious uphill hiking to reach. The Great Salt Lake is visible in the background and the arrow points the way to Salt Lake City. This "arrow" was unique as it has two "tails" and a single "point".

    [​IMG]

    The next (beacon #59) is located approx. 25 miles to the west along I-80. The "arrow" also shows remnants of red & blue paint.

    [​IMG]


    The last (beacon #58) is another 20 miles further west of number 2 and is about a mile uphill on the north side of I-80. We were surprised to find the "arrow" had a recent coat of chrome yellow paint. Someone must still find this marker useful.

    [​IMG]


    This one also points the way east toward Salt Lake City, Utah.

    [​IMG]
    #11
  12. RoadDad

    RoadDad n13ub Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Oddometer:
    799
    Location:
    Jasper, Indiana
    If any of you are really interested in looking for these arrows and beacon lights check out these links:
    http://www.dreamsmithphotos.com/arrow/arrows.html ----click on each state at the bottom of page 1 for details

    http://sometimes-interesting.com/2013/12/04/concrete-arrows-and-the-u-s-airmail-beacon-system/

    http://altereddimensions.net/2016/l...-arrows-station-name-counties-gps-coordinates

    https://thesurveystation.com/airway-beacons-list-eastern-u-s/ ---list of over 500 eastern USA beacons

    https://thesurveystation.com/airway-beacons-list-western-u-s/ ----list of over 900 western USA beacons

    I have used Google Earth to search for every one of the beacons on these two sites. You can do that also or just pm me with your email address and I will send you a file of those that are visible. It is divided into eastern and western USA
    #12
    popscycle, WYO George and sealsam like this.
  13. sealsam

    sealsam Sam...I am. Supporter

    Joined:
    May 30, 2010
    Oddometer:
    8,125
    Location:
    seal beach, ca.
    Fantastic links RoadDad!!

    Ah progress, now to think even VOR's are becoming a thing of the past!

    GPS rule the skies.

    Thanks for keeping the history alive & well.
    #13
  14. sealsam

    sealsam Sam...I am. Supporter

    Joined:
    May 30, 2010
    Oddometer:
    8,125
    Location:
    seal beach, ca.
    Looking forward to some GSteve's ride reports from the fabulous state of UT!:lurk
    #14
  15. jay547

    jay547 Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    11,020
    Location:
    Broken Arrow, OK
    Same here.

    And I also have the world's largest ball of twine marked for future visit. :D
    #15
    sealsam and WYO George like this.
  16. The Virginian

    The Virginian YouTube n00b Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Oddometer:
    4,727
    Location:
    Spotsylvania, VA
    Pretty cool! My pops was the test pilot for the MD-80 at McDonnell Douglas.
    #16
    sealsam likes this.
  17. GSteve

    GSteve Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2003
    Oddometer:
    2,150
    Location:
    NM desert
    Another concrete arrow located in Hudspeth County, Texas.

    [​IMG]
    #17
    popscycle and MadRider777 like this.
  18. oldmanb777

    oldmanb777 Just say NO to socialism! It's a bad drug!

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2006
    Oddometer:
    9,321
    Location:
    Peoples republic of Kalifornia, East...Kolarado
    I spent several years wrenching on them, and several years flying them. It had some issues. It was really tweaked to more than realistic limits. But in many way ways was pretty nice plane.
    #18
    The Virginian likes this.
  19. cookin monster

    cookin monster Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2011
    Oddometer:
    11
    Location:
    Just outside of SW Ct.
    This is one I found after reading your initial post a few year ago. It is at Bethany, Conn. it is no longer an airport but a rec facility for the town. This was probably on the New York to Boston route.

    Attached Files:

    #19
    popscycle likes this.
  20. MuckSavage

    MuckSavage A Piney Irregular

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2011
    Oddometer:
    954
    Location:
    Turnersville, NJ
    The concrete arrows were featured on Science Channel's "What on Earth?" Program
    #20