US Route 40 is one of America’s most historic highways. It originated as the National Road, the first highway funded by the federal government, between Cumberland, Maryland and Vandalia, Illinois. Later, during the auto trail era just after the invention of the automobile, it became part of the National Old Trails Road. In 1926, the United States Numbered Highway system was established. US-40 was an original route of this system. It followed the National Old Trails Road from Atlantic City as far west as Topeka, then set off on its own across western Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California, ending in San Francisco. Today, US-40 ends in Silver Summit, Utah; west of there its path was taken over by Interstate 80. Much of the rest of US-40 is near to or overlapped by Interstate 70.
In the 1950s and 1960s, two different versions of the US Route 40 sign were being made. The introduction of the Interstate System in 1956 required a new US route marker that would be legible at freeway speeds. In 1957, California introduced such a sign: a blank cut out in the shape of a shield, with the letters “US” above large, bold numbers. The American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) soon adopted this style and distributed it to the other states. Signs of this type were in use in many states alon US Route 40, including Colorado and Missouri. The 1961 Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) introduced another new style, this one from the federal government. It removes the letters “US” and places shield silhouette on a black square blank that is easier to manufacture. A modern variant of this design is now being used by forty-seven states. California, however, continues to use its 1957 cutout markers on its remaining US routes to the present day.
Our US Route 40 signs are available in both the 1957 cutout and 1961 black square designs. They have been made according to the original blueprints for signs of both types. That means your sign will be just like those used in the early days of the Interstate System! Our US Route 40 signs are the most historically accurate of any on the market, and make a wonderful display piece both indoors and outdoors!
Our US Route 40 signs are flat printed in the United States on 14-gauge steel. They feature a glossy, non-reflective finish that will last for years. Take your pick from the following sizes:
- 12 in. × 12 in. (for those seeking to economize on size or cost)
- 16 in. × 16 in.
- 24 in. × 24 in. (the standard size for surface-level streets and highways)
- 36 in. × 36 in. (used whenever extra visibility is needed, such as on high-speed roads and at important junctions)
Want a sign like these for another US highway? We can make them for you, whatever the number, from 1 to 730! And we don’t just make route markers—we offer you the best of the welcome signs and directional signs from bygone eras too. If you’re looking for something specific that isn’t on our website, you can place a custom order, too! It’s easy—just contact Jake today to get started!