All posts by Doug & Polly Smith

Doug & Polly Smith, Photographed in Grand Island, NY, 2000.

Route 62: Tales from the Other Road

It only took us 17 years, but here’s Doug & Polly Smith’s epic road-trip account of their travels down Route 62. This is the unedited version, as it is the only version we seem to have on hand in digital format. Some of the text may still contain typos left over from the OCR software we used at the time. Doug was only just beginning to enter the digital age in 1999. 

By Doug and Polly Smith


If the setting sun shone across Route 66, its shadow would he Route 62. A mystery even to those who live at its curb. Route 62 emerges from the mists of Niagara Falls to meander 2,315 miles (more or less) through 11 states to the Rio Grande at F-l Paso.

It has Northeast smokestacks, Amish farms, tobacco barns, race horses, rugged crosses, cotton fields, oil rigs, cattle drives, mountain passes and the Border Patrol. It takes two bridges to throw it across the Mississippi River.

A thoroughfare for underdogs, it has lured us all our lives.

Polly Smith, conscience of this account, has given it a name: “The Other Road-” With all deference to “The Mother Road,” anything Route 66 can do. The Other Road can do better. This is its story, and ours ..

We aimed to drive it when we were 62 but as time passed, we were paving The Other Road only with good intentions. Spurred to action by a minor health matter, we planned to transit 62 in the fall of ’99.

We checked football schedules, so as to avoid traffic at Ohio State, Kentucky and Arkansas Universities along the route. We asked a cloister of nuns (we are not Catholic) to pray that those we would meet would be glad we had come. Then, on a wet October morn, packed with clothes for three seasons, a carton of tour-guides and a medicinal bottle of Marker’s Mark bourbon, we were off. We had made just one reservation, at the Rose Hill Inn in Versailles, KY. Coming back would have to take care of itself.

Roadside Online

Day Two: Hubbard to Canton, Ohio

When Doug lived in Youngstown, Ohio, its steel mills glared the smoky red of eternal sunset. World War II troop trains rushed through and Dad had charge of the tracks they trod. To eight-year-old eyes, it seemed like the center of the world.

Now, Youngstown’s twilight was economic. Nonetheless, it would be fun to find the old homestead, 440 Fairgreen. We drive out Belmont Avenue, looking for Fairgreen; after 10 minutes we pass beyond the city limits.

An amused tire clerk with a big, detailed map says that in ‘ Youngstown, street signs vanish, never to be replaced. Continue reading Day Two: Hubbard to Canton, Ohio

Roadside Online

Day One: Niagara Falls to Hubbard, Ohio

A postal clerk named Luis sounded our first “Godspeed,” within sight of the sign that says “Route 62 North Ends.” He stamped the local postmark on “We’re off!” cards to our family and we pledged him a line from El Paso. He was glad we had come.

Route 62 South, begins unannounced, an omen. We started from beneath a 20-foot plastic swirly cone called “Twist of the The MIST” frozen custard stand. For the first 150 miles, we will try to see familiar territory through unfamiliar eyes.

Historic icons abut Route 62 South — the former Bell Aircraft plant, blueprint of victory in World War II, and the organists’ origin, the Wurlitzer plant, now an architecture of lost chords. Continue reading Day One: Niagara Falls to Hubbard, Ohio