Its easternmost point is Detroit, Michigan. US12 winds through the northern states westward to Aberdeen, Washington on North Bay (the Pacific Ocean). Now it reaches the coast. It wasn’t always so, in the history of United States highways. It has moved, or its signs have adopted changed routes over the years. For most of its two-lane blacktop life its western terminus was Missoula, Montana.
Why should I care about that? Well, you see, when I was growing up in the 1950s, I attended Green Park Elementary School on Route 12, aka East Isaacs Street. At that time the signs read US410. In 1967, the upgrade of Lolo Pass extended Route 12 through Idaho. 410 became 12. By then I was a sophomore at Pacific University, a hundred miles from the nearest connection to the newly designated route. Route 12 now follows a bypass route around Walla Walla.
I count it anyway, not only because so much of my life has been in close proximity to the Twelve, but also because it goes back for generations. My Highway 12 stories can include Wisconsin grandparents who lived where the headlights of cars coming into town on Truax shone into their front windows as the cars followed the highway’s bend into Third Street when we visited. When my father was growing up, they lived a block up the Third Street, right there on old Highway 12.
It’s also a current family thing. One sibling has for years lived a few blocks from US12 (now also with some ‘I’ number) in the Twin Cities . If we were to include Twelve’s sister highway, US212, there’d be more family connection. But we’d have to throw in US2, just because. So, forget all that. These are my stories from my entire life lived within a hundred miles of US12, except for fewer than five years when I eluded its grip.