Route 66 may not have been Cyrus Avery's first choice but, when he lost the fight to get the prestigious number 60, it certainly worked out well. The dual sixes looked good on signs and were easy to rhyme and remember. The backers of that other road got their number and a road that outlived the Chicago to LA route but it was Route 66 that caught people's attention and kindled their dreams.

When the federal government started putting numbers to paths in the 1920s, those that ended in zero were considered the prizes. With a limit of two digits, only nine roads would make up that select group. Even numbers meant an east-west route and the north-south equivalent of the "zero" roads were those that ended in a one. It may be because their lengths were more restricted or maybe because the "zeros" had a better sound, but none of the north-south roads, with the possible exception of US-1 and US-101, are even considered in a class with those east-west "zeros".

That it was an even number was another plus for Route 66 and, in hind sight, it may seem that an east-west route with a matched pair of digits couldn't help but be a winner. Then why did it take so long for me to realize that a road I've lived near and even under was one of a very few byways connected to the Mother Road through its name? Road designations ending in zero seem downright common when compared to those with even numbered matched digit tags. Only four possibilities - 22, 44, 66, 88 - exist and one of those is a proven star. What of the others? It appears that there never was a US 88. I don't know why and I don't even know that I'm right but I can find no US 88 information. Pity. It certainly has a promising sound.

The other two are real. US-44 is a 238 mile road passing through four states between Plymouth, MA and Kerhonkson, NY. US-22 connects Newark, NJ with Cincinnati, OH. It, too, passes through just four states but covers about 650 miles. That means that I live in constant contact with one of only three east-west matched  digit highways and one that is second only to the fabled Route 66 in length. Having discovered this, it seems almost mandatory that I someday travel this route to Newark. It's just a question of when.

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