How did people ever survive before the invention of the GPS? Did they just meander around aimlessly until they finally happened upon their destination? Was there anything at all to point them in the right direction?

Actually, it turns out that there was. Would you believe that there is a trail of giant concrete arrows stretching all the way across the United States for that very purpose? Yes, you should.

In 1920, the first transcontinental airmail route was started. Back in those days, not even radio existed that would help guide the airborne mailmen along their path, making it very difficult for them to fly at night or in bad weather. To help them along, in 1924, the federal government funded the construction of a trail of enormous concrete arrows, laid out on the ground along the air mail route. They were painted bright yellow and accompanied by tall, lighted beacon towers to ensure their visibility. Now, the pilots could simply look at the ground and know they were heading in the right direction.

It turns out that most of them are located in pretty sparsely populated places, so it makes sense that not many people have come across them and spread the word about them. Nowadays, most of the beacon towers are gone and the yellow paint has faded away, but efforts are being made to preserve what’s left of these navigational helpers from the past.

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When On Earth Magazine is for people who love travel. We provide informative travel guides, tips, ideas and advice regarding places to see, things to do, what to taste, and much more for world travelers seeking their next dream vacation destination.

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