From Antonito to Denver, it’s the Ralph Carr Highway

Brief by Central Staff

Transportation – May 2008 – Colorado Central Magazine –

U.S. 285 from Denver to the New Mexico line has been christened the “Ralph Carr Memorial Highway” by our state legislature; the joint resolution passed unanimously on March 15.

Carr, a Republican, served as governor from 1939 to 1943. Alone among Western governors, he defended the rights of all Americans, including those of Japanese ethnicity, during World War II when the federal government forced them to move from the West Coast to interior states, Colorado among them. (For more about Carr, see the review of The Principled Politician on page 32 in this edition.)

Our state representative, Poncha Springs Republican Tom Massey, observed that “We’re obviously honoring a gentleman who had the courage of his convictions.”

It’s an appropriate highway to name for Carr, since his career took him from practicing law in Antonito to the State Capitol in Denver, and that’s basically the route of U.S. 285. A memorial plaque, financed by contributions, is planned for the summit of Kenosha Pass, at 9,997 feet the highest point along the route.

U.S. 285 also crosses the 38th Parallel, the basis for the dividing line between North and South Korea. So the stretch from its junction with Colo. 17 south of Villa Grove through Saguache and Monte Vista to Alamosa is the Korean War Veterans Memorial Highway, as is Colo. 17 from Alamosa north to the U.S. 285 junction.

We found several other memorial highways in Colorado:

Gerald Ford Memorial Highway, I-70 in Eagle County.

John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway, I-25 from the northern border of Pueblo County to the New Mexico line.

Mother Cabrini Memorial Highway, I-70 in Jefferson County.

Ronald Reagan Highway, I-25 through El Paso County.

Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Highway, I-70 from Tower Road to Brighton Boulevard in metro Denver.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway, Colo. 115 from El Paso County’s southern border north to the intersection with South Nevada Avenue in Colorado Springs.

The two tunnels under the Continental Divide at the top of I-70 are named for Dwight D. Eisenhower, the president who started the interstate highway system and who was a frequent visitor to Colorado, and Edwin C. “Big Ed” Johnson, a Colorado senator and governor who promoted I-70 through Colorado. Johnson also defeated Carr in the 1942 race for U.S. Senate.