Tracking Highway 285

Brief by Central Staff

Transportation – January 2008 – Colorado Central Magazine

Here’s one of those things you find out when you’re looking up something else. The “something else” started with an email which said there was talk of naming a portion of U.S. 285 in honor of Ralph Carr.

Carr was governor of Colorado in 1942 when he opposed the relocation of Americans of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast into internment camps in the interior. “If you harm them, you must harm me,” he said. “I was brought up in a small town where I knew the shame and dishonor of race hatred. I grew to despise it because it threatened the happiness of you and you and you.”

Carr, a Republican, was born in Rosita and grew up in Cripple Creek. He practiced law in Antonito for several years, so that would be an appropriate section of U.S. 285 to name in his honor — but we couldn’t find any mention of putting his name on any stretch of road, let alone that one.

So what did we learn in the process? As it is, Colo. 291 runs from U.S. 50 through Salida to join U.S. 285 about eight miles north of town.

In 1939, however, Colo. 291 ran north from Poncha Springs, and U.S. 285 ran from Poncha to Salida north to the junction. The numbers were reversed to their present configuration in 1942 so that U.S. 285 was the direct route between Poncha and Buena Vista, which it still is, and Colo. 291 ran out of Salida, which it still does.

U.S. 285, in pretty much its present form, dates back to 1935. The stretches from Kenosha Pass to Bailey, and from Antonito into New Mexico, were not paved until 1946.

And as we said, we started looking into the history of U.S. 285 while trying to find out whether there was a proposal to name any of it after Ralph Carr, but we never found anything about naming a stretch of U.S. 285 to honor Carr.