Touring Map of the Custer Battlefield Highway: The Scenic Route to the West


The Custer Battlefield Highway was created in 1925 as a scenic route between Iowa and Montana. The National Highways Association printed this large colored wall map, the “Touring Map of the Custer Battlefield Hiway: The Scenic Route to the West,” under a contract with the Custer Battlefield Highway Association. The association subsequently gave the map to its members. The highway began in Des Moines, Iowa, passed through Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana, and ended at the Canadian border in Glacier National Park. It was named in honor of George Armstrong Custer, the U.S. Army officer who was defeated and killed at the Battle of Little Bighorn by warriors of the Lakota Sioux, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes. The route went through the site of the Custer Battlefield National Cemetery (present-day Custer National Cemetery and Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument) where Custer and his men were buried. This historic site became the geographic and interpretive focus of the highway. Other points of interest along the way were Custer State Park, the Badlands of South Dakota, and Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. The map contains a topographic profile showing elevation changes along the route; a colored key highlighting national parks, national forests, and Indian reservations along the way; information about the route; and appeals for federal government support for building a national highway system. The establishment of the Custer Battlefield Highway came at a time of widespread enthusiasm across the United States for highway construction, and the route quickly became one of the most famous of its era. It was based mostly upon existing roads, but it served as a catalyst for adding historical signage, upgrading maintenance, and building new bridges to improve the route. The scale in miles equates to 1:3,125,000.

Last updated: October 30, 2015