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Historic Highways, Roads & Trails

Arrowhead Trail

(Arrow Highway - U.S. Highway 91)

Arrowhead Highway, also known as the National Old Trails Road, was an early highway system in the United States. It primarily connected Los Angeles, California, to Salt Lake City, Utah, running through the Mojave Desert and various mountain passes.

Established in the early 20th century, it played a significant role in the development of the southwestern United States' transportation infrastructure. The highway was eventually integrated into the modern U.S. Highway system, with parts of it becoming sections of U.S. Route 66 and other highways.

The name "Arrowhead" likely refers to the distinctive natural rock formation near San Bernardino, California, which resembles an arrowhead and has been a landmark for travelers in the region.

The Arrowhead Trail, also known as Highway 91, is a historic route with a rich history that dates back to the early 20th century. It played a significant role in the development of transportation and connectivity in the southwestern United States. Here's an overview of its history:

Early Beginnings

1. Origin as a Trail: The Arrowhead Trail started as a series of Native American paths and pioneer trails. It was initially used for foot travel and horse-drawn wagons.

2. Development into a Road: With the advent of automobiles, there was a need for better roads. The Arrowhead Trail was one of the earliest efforts to create a long-distance, automobile-friendly road in the American Southwest.

The 1910s and 1920s

1. Auto Trails Movement: The Arrowhead Trail was developed during the auto trails movement, where communities and businesses would mark and promote routes to encourage auto travel.

2. Promotion and Expansion: Spearheaded by various groups including the Arrowhead Trail Association, the route was heavily promoted as the shortest and best route from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles.

3. Route Improvements: The trail initially was quite rough and unimproved in many sections. Over time, it was gradually upgraded, with more consistent road surfaces and better signage.

The 1930s and Beyond

1. Incorporation into the U.S. Highway System: The Arrowhead Trail's importance led to its incorporation into the U.S. Highway System. It became part of U.S. Route 91.

2. Role in Regional Connectivity: Highway 91 became a crucial link between Nevada, Utah, and California, fostering economic and cultural exchanges.

3. Evolution and Replacement: With the construction of the Interstate Highway System, particularly I-15, much of the old route of the Arrowhead Trail/Highway 91 was bypassed or subsumed by newer, larger highways.


1. Historical Significance: Today, the Arrowhead Trail is recognized for its historical significance in the development of early automobile travel in the Southwest.

2. Cultural Impact: The trail helped to connect remote areas, playing a vital role in the cultural and economic development of the region.

3. Preservation Efforts: There are ongoing efforts to preserve and commemorate the historical sections of the trail, including markers and informational signs.

The Arrowhead Trail/Highway 91 is more than just a road; it's a testament to the era of early automobile travel and its impact on the American West. Its transformation from a rough trail to a major highway symbolizes the broader evolution of transportation in the United States.

Early roads from Los Angeles to Las Vegas did not follow the Union Pacific through the desert because of the hazards of heavy sand and unpredictable water levels in the Afton Canyon area. Instead, the road, graded by the state in 1922, skipped to the north, roughly following the Old Spanish Trail, a wagon road contemporary of the Mojave Road. In 1925, the county realigned the route through Baker. Paved in 1932, the name of the road was changed; originally known as the Arrowhead Trail, the highway was designated U.S. 91. Traffic to and from Las Vegas was substantial after World War II, because of the development of Las Vegas as a resort destination. Constructed very close to the alignment of U.S. 91, Interstate 15 was finished through the area by 1964. Almost all of the small service stations supported by U.S. 91 were destroyed by I-15; those that exist today were built after the freeway was completed through the area.

(from - Administrative History of the Mojave Preserve)

More about the Historic Arrowhead Trail

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These items are historical in scope and are intended for educational purposes only; they are not meant as an aid for travel planning.
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