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End of US highway 52

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Additional research and/or photo credits: David Dawson; H.B. Elkins; Karin and Martin Karner; Jeff Morrison; J.P. Nasiatka; Adam Prince; Michael Summa; Stephen Taylor; me

Approx. time period East terminus West terminus
1926-1932 Huntington, WV (near Fowler, IN)
1932-1934 Bluefield, WV (near Fowler, IN)
1934-1935 Bluefield, WV 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, and I think it still should be). It's 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.

In about 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. 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

Apparently US 52's original east terminus 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:


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 1935, the US 52 designation was extended south from Bluefield: through Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Since then, its terminus has been in Charleston (you can read about its historic endpoints on that page). Its current endpoint was established in 1968; the photo below was taken on southbound Meeting Street at US 17:

Prince, Oct. 2000

Those overpasses are gone now, because US 17 uses a newer bridge across the Cooper River. But before those elevated approaches to the old Cooper River bridges were built, this was the end of US 52. Straight ahead was southbound US 17, while northbound was to the left on Lee Street. Also to the left was the south beginning of US 701 for decades. Later, when these US 17 overpasses were built, US 52 was extended a couple blocks ahead to Line Street, which was the next surface street beyond the second viaduct. Here's what that intersection looks like:

Karners, Apr. 2014

There is no "End" sign here, nor is there any US 52 signage anywhere in the vicinity. US 52 signage in Charleston has been poor for decades, but at least there used to be a couple; this next shot was from Lee at Meeting (to the left of the motorcycle above):

Dawson, Sep. 2001

Presumably there used to 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, at the beginning of US 52. That sign was gone by 2005, probably removed along with the old US 17 overpasses in the distance. Now there is no sign on Meeting for more than a mile...

left: attribution unknown -- right: Karners, Apr. 2014

...and even that one is sometimes hidden among tree branches. That's just past the intersection with Mt. Pleasant Street and Morrison Drive (which carries the completely unsigned US 52 Spur). In fact, several signs in this area create the impression that SCDoT wants US 52's existence south of Mt. Pleasant to be kept a secret. This is looking east on Mt. Pleasant at King (approaching Meeting):

Google Maps Street View, May 2013

US 52 also continues to the right, but the sign indicates it only goes to the north on Meeting. Same thing looking west on Mt. Pleasant at Meeting:

Dawson, Sep. 2001 (unchanged as of May 2013)

This sign suggests that the beginning of US 52 is to the right. But let's check out the sign in the distance:

Google Maps Street View, May 2013

US 78 is shown to go both ways on King. Is this snubbing of US 52 just a coincidence? There's more: heading north on I-26, there's an exit to Romney Street. Let's see the signage at the bottom of that off-ramp:

Google Maps Street View, Aug. 2012

King is a couple blocks to the left, and US 78 traffic is directed that way. But, although US 52 is just one block to the right, it's not given any love. Before I-26 was reconfigured, southbound signage didn't acknowledge US 52 either..., Jan. 2004

...and after the rebuild it still doesn't. Nor is US 52 signed from southbound US 17:, Jul. 2005