National Highways System Proposed in 1913


The National Highways Association (NHA) was established in 1911 to promote the development of an improved national road network in the United States. Under the slogan “Good roads for everyone!” the NHA advocated the building and permanent maintenance by the federal government of a system of 50,000 miles (some 80,500 kilometers) of highways. This system was to be composed of six main national highways, 13 trunk national highways, and 40 link highways. The link highways, the NHA explained, would connect “the Mains and Trunks” and reach out “in all directions until the country as a whole is covered with almost a spider-web tracery of highways.” This map issued by the NHA in 1913 shows the proposed system, with colors used to denote the different categories of highways. Besides issuing brochures and circulars aimed at convincing citizens of the need for a national road system, the NHA was a prolific producer of maps. Cartographic work was done at an office in South Yarmouth, Massachusetts, where approximately 40 people were employed on the property of Charles Henry Davis (1865–1951), president and cofounder of the NHA. Davis believed that these maps would be helpful to a national highways commission that he hoped would be established and that they would assist the states in integrating their roads into a national system. Congress never embraced the plan put forward by the NHA, but the organization and its maps helped to promote the cause of a national road network.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

National Highways Association, Washington, D.C.


Title in Original Language

National Highways System -- Fifty Thousands Miles -- Main Trunk and Link Lines Proposed by the National Highways Association

Additional Subjects

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 map : color ; 23 x 38 centimeters


  • Scale 1:13,000,000

Last updated: January 8, 2018