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Automobile Club of Southern California strip map database

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I've posted a list of everything I can currently find on the ACSC strip maps. They are not just California. They are arranged by map file number.

Automobile Club of Southern California Strip Maps


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That is some listing of ACSC strip maps!  I have a few hundred myself, and have tried over the years to identify the date by design or cartographer.  Many of course have the month and date on the back, or the copyright date on the front.  And you can sometimes date them by the auto club's address.  And I suppose I could do some dating by the symbols used, which changed in the early years.

Have you come up with other methods?

Incidentally, I have an interesting article from the 1920's in Touring Topics describing the methods used to make those maps.  Not a lot of surprises, but you have to respect the accuracy they achieved before there were aerial surveys and satellites!

Thanks for the list!

Good To Go!

I knew about the date codes, although they can be confusing. I do know the dates on a lot of these maps, especially the ones in booklets. However, the maps are often older than the date code. I also have particular maps with different date codes since they were used for several years.
I now know the name of one of the cartographers. He signed as both BROWN and E.J.B, and his name was Elmer J. Brown. He also designed the bell logo for the auto club.
I never thought of using the address, that's a good idea to correlate cards.
The maps from around 1915 use the funny symbols for lodging/food, gas/oil, and repair facilities. Many of those maps have a little date next to the cartographer's initials.
I got one big set that had no dates on any cards... the same cards that did have date codes in other sets. Perhaps the dates were added later as needed?

Does that Touring Topics mention the names of any of the cartographers? I did see some examples of the original maps on the walls of the ACSC archives. They drew them pretty big, like a small poster. Some of these maps are works of art, really beautiful.
Speaking as someone who has used ACSC maps to retrace transcontinental auto trails and US highways, I can say that they are often amazingly accurate. That's why I value them more than any other type of map (with the exception of topographic maps) for research.

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I don't recall the Touring Topics story mentioning names, but I'll dig it out and reread it.  It has been some years.

The club certainly reissued a map over a several year period.  You also notice original copyright dates removed and a blank left in its spot.  And some of the Washington State strip maps carry dates like 1917-1919, which makes you wonder what they were saying.  Was the map published in 1917, and updated in 1919, or what? :)

Some folks, especially oil map collectors, tend to distain the strip maps, but like you say, other than topos, and perhaps old county atlases, they are the premo road maps of the period.  I have thought from time to time that I would produce a few turn by turn old road guides using Hobbs, Automobile Blue Books, old post cards, and ACSC strip maps, and I once did one as a test on the LA to San Diego route. I thought it looked pretty good, but I'm lazy so that was the end of it.

If someone got serious, they could easily produce a series of nice guides with minimal effort, assuming of course they had the materials.  :)

One of my early acquisitions, was the 1911 ACSC tour book, which has not only great maps, but nice written directions, missing of course in later strip maps.  And I picked up about ten years ago, a couple of Grays California road atlases, from 1906 and 1907.  I don't think I have seen any earlier automobile road atlases for California, but there may be a bicycle guide.  Have you spotted any?

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I have a few relatively old strip maps for El Camino Real, but I've been looking for the maps used by the Federation of Women's Clubs to plan out the placement of El Camino Real bells. That started in about 1906. However, the decision to place a bell every mile on the route occurred in 1912-1913. I'd like to get a hold of copies of ECR maps from that 1906-1913 time period. I think a good guide to the ECR would be very helpful. A photographer friend and I did a road trip from Oceanside to downtown Los Angeles along the ECR route. It was fun trying to trace the route using my strip maps.

I'm actually planning to make some road guides and self publish them. I want to get a US 80 guide out, and then probably an El Camino Real guide. They will be similar to my California 80 strip maps on this site [example map image]. I've already purchased a domain name:


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