End of US highway 52

View a map showing this route.

Photo credits: Justin Cozart; David Dawson; H.B. Elkins; Alex Nitzman; Michael Summa; Stephen Taylor; me
Additional research: Jeff Morrison; J.P. Nasiatka

Approx. time period East terminus West terminus
1926-1932 Huntington, WV (near Fowler, IN)
1932-1934 Bluefield, WV (near Fowler, IN)
1934-1935 Charleston, SC Moorhead, MN (?)
1935-present Charleston, SC Portal, ND
Note: my understanding is that US 52 is now signed east-west at both endpoints (although it used to be signed north-south in SC). It's still signed north-south in NC, VA, and WV; then east-west in OH, IN, and IL; then north-south again in IA and MN; and finally east-west in ND.

US 52 was an original 1926 route, though it was much shorter back then. The west terminus was at US 41, between Fowler and Earl Park IN. By the time I photographed the location, it was certainly a lot different there than it was 75 years ago. This first shot is looking south on US 41/east on US 52:

me, Oct. 2002

The road at this point is angled southeast, but it was here that US 41 split off to the right, to head due south towards Terre Haute. US 52 began straight ahead by continuing on the same southeasterly angle. But today both roads are 4-laned, so US 52 now exits right and then passes under US 41 before continuing southeast. (If you're interested in how the old junction was configured, you can click here to read an e-mail sent to me by someone who has some recollections of childhood roadtrips through the area.) The photo below shows the former west end of US 52:

me, Oct. 2002

That's looking northwest on 52, just before it joins US 41 (which you can see coming in from the left side). Fowler was the last town on US 52 (about 3 miles behind the camera); Earl Park is about 3 miles ahead.


I'm told US 52's east terminus back then was in Ohio, at the state line on the edge of Huntington WV. I'm not sure if this was because there was no bridge over the Ohio River to Huntington, or because West Virginia simply didn't want the US 52 designation at the time. If there was a bridge, then my guess would be that US 52 continued a little farther east along the north bank of the Ohio River, following today's OH 7 to the old bridge that leads across to downtown Huntington. Below we're looking south towards that bridge:

Elkins

That's as far as US 52 got until 1932, which is when the route was extended south and east to Bluefield WV. There, I believe US 52 came into town via what is now CR 11, or Old Bramwell Road, ending at its junction with US 19 (Bluefield Avenue). The shot below was taken looking southwest on US 19, just before it crosses into Virginia:

Summa, 1999

The east beginning of US 52 would've been to the right on Old Bramwell. That didn't last long, though - in 1934, the US 52 designation was extended south from Bluefield: through Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Its present terminus is in Charleston. The photo below was taken on southbound Meeting Street at US 17:

Prince, Oct. 2000

US 52 actually ends at Line Street, which is a block or two beyond the second viaduct. But Adam reports that signage was dismal. There was no "End" sign. Nor was Meeting signed as US 52 for a few miles to the north. Nor was the Meeting exit from US 17 signed for US 52. The shot below shows perhaps the only US 52 signs in the immediate area: it's from the southbound US 17 off-ramp to Meeting (to the left of the motorcycle above).

Dawson, Sep. 2001

Presumably there should be a right arrow, directing US 52 traffic to the right on Meeting. Here's another interesting photo:

Dawson, Sep. 2001

That was northbound on Meeting at Line, which is about 2 blocks south of US 17. This was the first northbound US 52 sign, but Jeff reports even that was gone by 2005. Now the only signage on this stretch of Meeting doesn't refer to US 52 at all:

Cozart/Nitzman, Nov. 2006

That's been the south beginning of US 52 for years, dating back to when US 17 traffic still used Line. However, it's not the original Charleston endpoint - you can view a photo of that intersection (as well as an historic map of Charleston) on this page.


Apparently, that same year (1934), the west end of US 52 was extended into Minnesota, perhaps all the way to the North Dakota line. By 1935, the west end of US 52 was extended to its present terminus at the Canada border in aptly-named Portal ND. By contrast, this terminus couldn't be any more simple to figure out. There was no "End" sign, but this first photo shows the end of US 52 at the port of entry:

Taylor, 2000

To continue into Canada from here is to find oneself on Saskatchewan provincial highway 39, which picks up the same northwesterly angle as US 52. The shot below shows the view to the south from the international boundary, at the west beginning of US 52 - or Railway Avenue, as the road is known locally:

Taylor, 2000

In the distance is the first shield, which is shown more closely in the photo below:

Taylor, 2000