Lee Highway

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Lee Highway logo from 1925 Rand McNally Auto Trails Map.

The Lee Highway was a national auto trail in the United States, connecting New York City and San Francisco, California via the South and Southwest. After receiving a letter on January 15, 1919 from Dr. S.M. Johnson of Roswell, New Mexico, David Carlisle Humphreys of Lexington, Virginia put out a call for a meeting in Roanoke, Virginia to form a new national highway association. On December 3, 1919 five hundred men from five states met in Roanoke to officially form the Lee Highway Association. The auto trail was named after Robert E. Lee.[1]


The route of the Lee Highway is now roughly designated by the following routes:

Present day name usage[edit]

Much of the original route is still known by the name "Lee Highway". The following cities and areas of the U.S. (listed from East to West) still have roads that use the name:

Cultural references[edit]

The "Lee Highway Blues" is a standard of southern string band music, widely attributed to G. B. Grayson of the popular Grayson and Whitter string band of the late 1920s, who recorded it under the title "Going Down The Lee Highway" but almost certainly composed by fiddler James ("Uncle Jimmy" or "Fiddlin' Jim") McCarroll of the Roane County Ramblers.[3] The tune has been used as a fiddler's showpiece especially in the Virginia area by well-known fiddlers, notably Scotty Stoneman, and by string band revivalists such as the Highwoods String Band.

For an outstanding rendition of Lee Highway Blues see CMH Records, Inc., CD9037, artist: Chubby Wise. This cut was also recorded on Pioneering Women of Bluegrass, Alice Gerrard & Hazel Dickens; this album is in the Smithsonian collection.

David Bromberg wrote and performs a whimsical bluegrass tune, “The New Lee Highway Blues”, describing the tribulations of traveling on an endless highway of one horse towns.


  • Rand McNally Auto Road Atlas, 1926, accessed via the Broer Map Library: shows the route between Washington, D.C. and New Mexico, except in western Tennessee
  • Virginia Hart, The Story of American Roads, 1950, p. 240: lists the cities on the route
  1. ^ South Plans Great Memorial Highways (1918)
  2. ^ Virginia Route Index, revised July 1, 2003 Archived August 29, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. (PDF)
  3. ^ Bob Fulcher, liner notes to Roane County Ramblers, Complete Recordings 1928-1929, 2004 P. 7

External links[edit]