All Across The Country You'll Find These Huge Arrows On The Ground. And This Is Where They Lead To.

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We can afford to pack a  lot lighter for a road trip these days. Things such as a compass, atlas, and directions are all in your smartphone. Imagine the nightmare you’d be in if you lost your phone in the middle of nowhere. 

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It’s daunting to imagine trekking across a country the size of the US without a digital companion, but we recently learnt that scattered helpfully across the country are giant 70-foot arrows to help guide you back to safety. They date back to the pre-digital age of mail delivery.

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Overgrown with weeds and cracks, this long concrete arrow will point you out of the desert.

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Because the Postal Service started using cross-country air mail before the days of getting reliable radio in their planes, they installed these arrows for the flyer’s safety. The line of the beacons bisects the country longitudinally from San Francisco to New York City.  

 

The government introduced the arrows in 1924 to be positioned next to a 50-foot tall tower with a rotating gas-powered light. These were supposed to be visible from 10 miles high for lost pilots. This is a model of the beacon and arrow system.

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Advances in radio meant that the beacons and arrows became obsolete. This in turn led to the government dismantling the metal towers for the world war two effort. There is a small movement to preserve these beacons before it’s too late and they disappear completely. Here is a fully restored tower and generator shack in New Mexico.  

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Road trip, anyone?

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