Legislature backs effort to promote historic U.S. 10 route

OLYMPIA…A grassroots effort to promote historic U.S. Highway 10, one of the nation’s 10 original interstate highways, has found an ally in Sen. Mark Schoesler, whose legislative district is home to much of the Washington part of the route that once connected Detroit and Seattle.

Schoesler secured $50,000 in the new state transportation budget to install U.S. 10-related signs on Interstate 90 between Idaho and the Columbia River. While I-90 often overlaps the historic route, it bypasses Schoesler’s hometown of Ritzville and other communities that had been stops on the old highway.

“There are bicyclists and motorcyclists and classic-car clubs who plan trips around historic highways, and U.S. 10 is certainly historic, as part of the original numbered-highway system conceived in 1925,” said Schoesler. “I think this could turn out to be a real draw for small towns that used to be on the beaten path and are waiting to be rediscovered and properly appreciated.”

Linda Kubik and John Rankin have long promoted what they call “Historic 10,” which passes through downtown Ritzville less than two blocks from their Flying Arts Ranch and King Mercantile. The couple were elated to learn about the budget appropriation and appreciate that Schoesler also sees the potential benefits of calling more attention to the old highway. They compare it to how the state of California promotes the historic U.S. 99 route and associations in Arizona and several other states promote Route 66, which opened a year after U.S. 10 was designated.

“Historic 10 doesn’t have the cachet of Route 66, but most people probably don’t realize that Route 66’s visibility is also the product of a grassroots effort,” said Kubik, referring to how the town of Seligman, Ariz., established the first Route 66 Association only 30 years ago.

Kubik and Rankin have traveled on the scattered pieces of Route 66 enough to appreciate the ease of access to U.S. 10, whether it’s in downtown North Bend, the stretch between Cle Elum and Vantage (signed as State Route 10), Third Avenue in Moses Lake, First Avenue in Ritzville, Main Street in Sprague or Main Street in Cheney.

“Adams County has 14 signs for the historic route from county line to county line and six signs through Ritzville. We have handed out Historic 10 bumper stickers for years along with replica highway signs and T-shirts,” Kubik added. “Now, thanks to Senator Schoesler, Washington can be the first state to embrace and celebrate U.S. 10.”

From Michigan, U.S. 10 passed through Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana and the Idaho panhandle before entering Washington at Spokane.