The Atlantic-Yellowstone-Pacific (AYP) Highway started with the citizens of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Membership included many business owners and other well-respected citizens. The route was born from a desire on the part of these individuals to increase tourist revenues and showcase the nation’s natural beauty.
Although aspirations for a "coast-to-coast" route were in the minds of early promoters, their primary goal was to complete a route that extended from Chicago to Yellowstone National Park. Their efforts were aided by $38,000 in initial membership contributions. Given the importance of tourism, the route was labeled as a "comfortable route," meant to "serve a rich and wonderfully interesting country."1
One citizen from Waterloo remarked that "this highway is destined to become one of the real transcontinental trails of the future."2
In September 1923, following six months of correspondence between the route’s sponsors and the Iowa State Highway Commission (ISHC), the ISHC authorized the AYP Highway Association’s board of directors to establish a route from just south of the Iowa/Minnesota state line near Larchwood southeastwardly to Waterloo.3
In the summer of 1924, the AYP Highway was extended from Waterloo to Dubuque, where it crossed the Mississippi and proceeded to Chicago.4
In an early attempt by the ISHC to regulate sign placement and manage highway rights of way in the state, ISHC Auditor C.R. Jones advised the AYP Highway Association to "confine your marking to poles not already in use. In our judgment the trail marker should merely be for the purpose of marking the trail." Additionally, the AYP Highway was to avoid placing markers near the fence lines, as doing so would have interfered with "maintenance operations." To avoid any unnecessary delays in marking the route, the AYP officials carefully followed these directives.
In September 1925, 73 citizens and the Farmers’ Trust and Savings Bank of Dickins submitted a petition to the Clay County Board of Supervisors and ISHC seeking to change the AYP Highway’s alignment as it made its way through Dickins. In addition to eliminating a purported "dangerous" corner (known as the Henderson Corner, which passed between the C.M. & St. P. Depot and Varney’s Elevator), the change would reroute the highway through Main Street where it could help stimulate the local economy.5
In response to the petition, the ISHC requested that the petitioners provide the commission with a detailed plat of the town that identified the business district. However, the commission dampened hopes that a change would be made when they also stated that "as a rule" newly designated trails should follow existing primary roads.
While no ISHC’s records exist that indicate the final outcome of the Dickins petition, it is historically significant because it documents the efforts of Iowans during this era to capitalize on the economic benefits of the state’s roadway system and influence decision makers.
As documented in August 1924 edition of the Lyon County Reporter, local citizen "R.C. Yappen drove from Rock Rapids to Dubuque over the A-Y-P Highway and says it is one of the best marked of all the trails on his long trip to Ohio."
The Siouxland Heritage Museum has a collection containing the certificates of incorporation and meeting minutes of the Atlantic, Yellowstone and Pacific Highway Association. The papers date from 1923 to 1934. The papers are located at the Old Courthouse Museum, 6th and Main, Sioux Falls, SD.
1AYP Brochure, Box 1, HA2.007..
2Letter from Harter B. Hull to the IHC, October 13, 1923, Box 1, Folder HA2.007.
3The original route is as follows: Iowa #9 from Iowa state line to Spirit Lake, Iowa #4 from Spirit Lake to Spencer, Iowa #19 from Spencer to Charlesps City, and Iowa #40 from Charles City to Waterloo.
4Route followed Iowa Primary Road #5.
5Petition of the Citizens of Dickens to the IHC, September 3-, 1925, Box 1, Folder HA2.007.