Most People Don’t Know The Story Behind These Strange Scattered Arrows Across The U.S.

America is covered in hundreds of massive concrete arrows and most people don’t know why.

If you found yourself wandering in the middle of the nowhere and suddenly stumbled upon a massive seventy-foot concrete arrow set into the ground, you might be understandably surprised. However, there’s actually a pretty cool backstory behind these mysterious concrete markers.

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Officially called the Transcontinental Airway System, these arrows were meant to guide Postal Service pilots across the country before the advent of reliable aviation charts. In those days, pilots navigated using their own eyes, stopwatches and recognizable landmarks. This meant that flying in inclement weather or in the dark was extraordinarily difficult.

In order to ensure the success of coast-to-coast airmail delivery, the Postal Service came up with a simple but ingenious idea: a series of directional arrows that would stretch from New York to San Francisco. They would install huge yellow concrete arrows about every ten miles in a straight path across the country, complete with 51-foot steel towers topped by rotating beacons. These arrows and their accompanying lights literally pointed the way across the nation.

Congress agreed to fund the project and by 1929 the arrow path across America spanned the entire breadth of the continent. This system meant that mail could fly coast to coast in a matter of hours rather than weeks.

Sadly, the bright yellow arrows were destined for obsolescence. By the 1940s, radio and communication technology had improved. The Commerce Department decommissioned the beacons and most of the steel towers were torn down and the metal was used for the war effort.

However, seeing as there was no real need to remove the arrows, many of them were simply left in place and overtaken by nature. You can still find many of these concrete markers in the American Southwest. With a compass and a good pair of hiking boots, you may even be able to follow them across the country.

Check out one of the giant arrows on Google Maps or take a look at a complete list of the original locations of the Eastern and Western beacons.