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Author Topic: The 1960s US 78 bypass of Tupelo  (Read 4672 times)

Tom958

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The 1960s US 78 bypass of Tupelo
« on: March 16, 2021, 10:42:20 AM »

Last night, I got curious about the pre-freeway US 78 bypass of Tupelo, so I did some research and posted about it in a closed Facebook group. That led to more revelations and more questions, so let's see what people here have to say about it.

First, a useable bypass of Tupelo was in place by 1966, as shown in this 1972 aerial photo. The portion west of US 45 Gloster Street had been in place as a four-lane dual highway with several median breaks since at least 1955. There was a short section of full freeway, with the bridges built in 1962, as far as Green Street. East of there to Main Street-US 78 was a super two on the eventual northbound US 45-westbound US 78-MS 178 roadway. The bridges on the former super two are noticeably narrower than their eventual eastbound-southbound counterparts, which were built in 1975.

Adding to the mix is this 1955 aerial, which shows a sweeping wye intersection at US 45 and US 78 as the precursor of the eventual two-loop parclo. In addition to the sweeping legs of the wye, note the stubs for an eastern extension of the bypass. The current bridge carrying Gloster Street-MS 145-former US 45 over the bypass wasn't built until 1967, and the next bridge to the west, not until 1965, so converting this highway to a semi-freeway was definitely an afterthought.

My bud Russell also helpfully produced this aerial from Mississippi Highways of the highway extending westward west of Gloster Street. I'm gonna say that the first three median cuts are the ones that are still there today, while the two visible in the distance were wiped out by the construction of the Country Club Road interchange in 1965. In the distance is the bridge carrying the Natchez Trace Parkway over the highway, which was built in 1959.

Perplexingly, though, the near end of the photo is very different from what's shown in the 1955 aerial. It appears that 500-600 feet of the concrete highway have disappeared, replaced by an asphalt neckdown onto the eastbound roadway. Something's going on here, and I don't understand what it is.

« Last Edit: April 26, 2022, 05:37:57 AM by Tom958 »
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Mapmikey

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Re: The 1960s US 78 bypass of Tupelo
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2021, 08:05:50 PM »

If you check out the 1972 aerial at the other end that can't be seen in your attached photo, it shows the same abrupt end of the concrete where the road transitioned back to the 2-lane configuration.

My conclusion is that they built the 4-lane portion as concrete and the segments on both sides of it were not concrete pavement.
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rcm195

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Re: The 1960s US 78 bypass of Tupelo
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2021, 11:48:16 PM »

You’ve answered a question I’ve wondered about for decades. I’m 61 now and remember running old 78 back and forth as a teenager through much of the 1970’s from Jasper Al to Rolla Mo as my brother was living in Missouri at the time. If I remember this started in the Fall of 1972(I was 12) and my brother moved back to Alabama in 1979.

From what I remember much of old 78 coming into Tupelo from the east was still concrete. It was not until 1974-75, I think before you had the small “bypass”, which is now US 45 to where you didn’t have to go down Main Street, the turn to the right on Gloster Avenue at the railroad tracks.

My Father who was still alive at the time could remember much of the old original 78 built in the 1930’s which only had one paved concrete lane, with gravel shoulders where if you met a car it was two wheels off the concrete and two wheels on!

It took a good solid 4 hours to go from Jasper to Memphis. One thing I can remember was Tupelo seemed to be about half way. If we traveled to Missouri in the Fall or Winter, if we left our home around 3 pm, it would get dark at Tupelo. The picture you show, at the end where it goes back into two lanes, where I-22 goes over 178, it was dark. I can remember old 78 going down a hill and way in the distance seeing tail lights of trucks. It was a long hard drive for my Dad from Tupelo to Memphis on a dangerous highway which was old 78.

Thank you for helping me rekindle this memory. If you have any more pictures of old 78 in Mississippi I’d love to see them.
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Tom958

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Re: The 1960s US 78 bypass of Tupelo
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2021, 09:35:10 PM »

You’ve answered a question I’ve wondered about for decades... Thank you for helping me rekindle this memory. If you have any more pictures of old 78 in Mississippi I’d love to see them.

No more pics, but I'm glad you found it elucidating.
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cbalducc

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Re: The 1960s US 78 bypass of Tupelo
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2021, 01:01:02 PM »

I wonder when plans for an all four-lane Highway 78 came together.
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Tom958

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Re: The 1960s US 78 bypass of Tupelo
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2021, 08:16:13 PM »

I wonder when plans for an all four-lane Highway 78 came together.

Probably in the early sixties, when the New Albany bypass was built. Obviously, though, they didn't envision the whole corridor as a freeway even though the New Albany bypass was one.

OTOH, the Mississippi state highway map didn't even distinguish between two- and four-lane roads until 1960. By 1970, almost all of US 49 south of Jackson had been four-laned and the Interstates were about halfway done, but it and US 90 along the coast were about the only rural four-lane highways.

 
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cbalducc

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Re: The 1960s US 78 bypass of Tupelo
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2021, 10:02:38 PM »

I wonder when plans for an all four-lane Highway 78 came together.

Probably in the early sixties, when the New Albany bypass was built. Obviously, though, they didn't envision the whole corridor as a freeway even though the New Albany bypass was one.

OTOH, the Mississippi state highway map didn't even distinguish between two- and four-lane roads until 1960. By 1970, almost all of US 49 south of Jackson had been four-laned and the Interstates were about halfway done, but it and US 90 along the coast were about the only rural four-lane highways.

 
I think the New Albany bypass was built in the 1970s.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2021, 12:41:45 AM by cbalducc »
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Tom958

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Re: The 1960s US 78 bypass of Tupelo
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2021, 10:30:07 PM »

I think the New Albanybypass was built in the 1970s.

The earliest surviving bridges are from 1965. http://bridgereports.com/ms/union/
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rcm195

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Re: The 1960s US 78 bypass of Tupelo
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2021, 07:03:50 PM »

From what I remember, the New Albany bypass at first ended at the state highway 30 interchange. This is the Union County hospital exit. I’m thinking it was 1974 before it was finished a few miles further west.
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cbalducc

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Re: The 1960s US 78 bypass of Tupelo
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2021, 10:37:04 AM »

Bypassing Holly Springs was a high priority since 78 went around the courthouse square.  Hard to imagine the army of 18-wheelers on I-22 today doing that.
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rcm195

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Re: The 1960s US 78 bypass of Tupelo
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2021, 02:51:05 PM »

Used to be a great ‘meat and cheese’ store before you got to the square in Holly Springs. You could get slices of beef and Swiss cheese, rye bread and crackers. My Dad and I would eat off of this for hours on our trips to the Midwest.
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rustypugh

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Re: The 1960s US 78 bypass of Tupelo
« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2022, 11:32:42 AM »

Last night, I got curious about the pre-freeway US bypass of Tupelo, so I did some research and posted about it in a closed Facebook group. That led to more revelations and more questions, so let's see what people here have to say about it.

First, a useable bypass of Tupelo was in place by 1966, as shown in this 1972 aerial photo. The portion west of US 45 Gloster Street had been in place as a four-lane dual highway with several median breaks since at least 1955. There was a short section of full freeway, with the bridges built in 1962, as far as Green Street. East of there to Main Street-US 78 was a super two on the eventual northbound US 45-westbound US 78-MS 178 roadway. The bridges on the former super two are noticeably narrower than their eventual eastbound-southbound counterparts, which were built in 1975.

Adding to the mix is this 1955 aerial, which shows a sweeping wye intersection at US 45 and US 78 as the precursor of the eventual two-loop parclo. In addition to the sweeping legs of the wye, note the stubs for an eastern extension of the bypass. The current bridge carrying Gloster Street-MS 145-former US 45 over the bypass wasn't built until 1967, and the next bridge to the west, not until 1965, so converting this highway to a semi-freeway was definitely an afterthought.

My bud Russell also helpfully produced this aerial from Mississippi Highways of the highway extending westward west of Gloster Street. I'm gonna say that the first three median cuts are the ones that are still there today, while the two visible in the distance were wiped out by the construction of the Country Club Road interchange in 1965. In the distance is the bridge carrying the Natchez Trace Parkway over the highway, which was built in 1959.

Perplexingly, though, the near end of the photo is very different from what's shown in the 1955 aerial. It appears that 500-600 feet of the concrete highway have disappeared, replaced by an asphalt neckdown onto the eastbound roadway. Something's going on here, and I don't understand what it is.


Last night, I got curious about the pre-freeway US bypass of Tupelo, so I did some research and posted about it in a closed Facebook group. That led to more revelations and more questions, so let's see what people here have to say about it.

First, a useable bypass of Tupelo was in place by 1966, as shown in this 1972 aerial photo. The portion west of US 45 Gloster Street had been in place as a four-lane dual highway with several median breaks since at least 1955. There was a short section of full freeway, with the bridges built in 1962, as far as Green Street. East of there to Main Street-US 78 was a super two on the eventual northbound US 45-westbound US 78-MS 178 roadway. The bridges on the former super two are noticeably narrower than their eventual eastbound-southbound counterparts, which were built in 1975.

Adding to the mix is this 1955 aerial, which shows a sweeping wye intersection at US 45 and US 78 as the precursor of the eventual two-loop parclo. In addition to the sweeping legs of the wye, note the stubs for an eastern extension of the bypass. The current bridge carrying Gloster Street-MS 145-former US 45 over the bypass wasn't built until 1967, and the next bridge to the west, not until 1965, so converting this highway to a semi-freeway was definitely an afterthought.

My bud Russell also helpfully produced this aerial from Mississippi Highways of the highway extending westward west of Gloster Street. I'm gonna say that the first three median cuts are the ones that are still there today, while the two visible in the distance were wiped out by the construction of the Country Club Road interchange in 1965. In the distance is the bridge carrying the Natchez Trace Parkway over the highway, which was built in 1959.

Perplexingly, though, the near end of the photo is very different from what's shown in the 1955 aerial. It appears that 500-600 feet of the concrete highway have disappeared, replaced by an asphalt neckdown onto the eastbound roadway. Something's going on here, and I don't understand what it is.


Thank you so much for posting this. I've lived in Tupelo 31 years, and have always been fascinated by the original alignments of 78 and 45. I found out that prior to the construction of McCollough Blvd,  after 78 turned right on Gloster, heading north with 45, it made a left turn onto Jackson, and then a right on Clayton, which it followed out of town, pre-McCollugh Bld. (4 lane). What still elides me however is what path 78 took through Tupelo before 45 was Gloster. We know 45 went through downtown on Spring and Green, but what was the exact alignment of 78 before the 1936 version of 45 (Gloster) was built?
« Last Edit: March 23, 2022, 11:43:00 AM by rustypugh »
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rustypugh

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Re: The 1960s US 78 bypass of Tupelo
« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2022, 11:45:17 AM »

Last night, I got curious about the pre-freeway US bypass of Tupelo, so I did some research and posted about it in a closed Facebook group. That led to more revelations and more questions, so let's see what people here have to say about it.

First, a useable bypass of Tupelo was in place by 1966, as shown in this 1972 aerial photo. The portion west of US 45 Gloster Street had been in place as a four-lane dual highway with several median breaks since at least 1955. There was a short section of full freeway, with the bridges built in 1962, as far as Green Street. East of there to Main Street-US 78 was a super two on the eventual northbound US 45-westbound US 78-MS 178 roadway. The bridges on the former super two are noticeably narrower than their eventual eastbound-southbound counterparts, which were built in 1975.

Adding to the mix is this 1955 aerial, which shows a sweeping wye intersection at US 45 and US 78 as the precursor of the eventual two-loop parclo. In addition to the sweeping legs of the wye, note the stubs for an eastern extension of the bypass. The current bridge carrying Gloster Street-MS 145-former US 45 over the bypass wasn't built until 1967, and the next bridge to the west, not until 1965, so converting this highway to a semi-freeway was definitely an afterthought.

My bud Russell also helpfully produced this aerial from Mississippi Highways of the highway extending westward west of Gloster Street. I'm gonna say that the first three median cuts are the ones that are still there today, while the two visible in the distance were wiped out by the construction of the Country Club Road interchange in 1965. In the distance is the bridge carrying the Natchez Trace Parkway over the highway, which was built in 1959.

Perplexingly, though, the near end of the photo is very different from what's shown in the 1955 aerial. It appears that 500-600 feet of the concrete highway have disappeared, replaced by an asphalt neckdown onto the eastbound roadway. Something's going on here, and I don't understand what it is.


Last night, I got curious about the pre-freeway US bypass of Tupelo, so I did some research and posted about it in a closed Facebook group. That led to more revelations and more questions, so let's see what people here have to say about it.

First, a useable bypass of Tupelo was in place by 1966, as shown in this 1972 aerial photo. The portion west of US 45 Gloster Street had been in place as a four-lane dual highway with several median breaks since at least 1955. There was a short section of full freeway, with the bridges built in 1962, as far as Green Street. East of there to Main Street-US 78 was a super two on the eventual northbound US 45-westbound US 78-MS 178 roadway. The bridges on the former super two are noticeably narrower than their eventual eastbound-southbound counterparts, which were built in 1975.

Adding to the mix is this 1955 aerial, which shows a sweeping wye intersection at US 45 and US 78 as the precursor of the eventual two-loop parclo. In addition to the sweeping legs of the wye, note the stubs for an eastern extension of the bypass. The current bridge carrying Gloster Street-MS 145-former US 45 over the bypass wasn't built until 1967, and the next bridge to the west, not until 1965, so converting this highway to a semi-freeway was definitely an afterthought.

My bud Russell also helpfully produced this aerial from Mississippi Highways of the highway extending westward west of Gloster Street. I'm gonna say that the first three median cuts are the ones that are still there today, while the two visible in the distance were wiped out by the construction of the Country Club Road interchange in 1965. In the distance is the bridge carrying the Natchez Trace Parkway over the highway, which was built in 1959.

Perplexingly, though, the near end of the photo is very different from what's shown in the 1955 aerial. It appears that 500-600 feet of the concrete highway have disappeared, replaced by an asphalt neckdown onto the eastbound roadway. Something's going on here, and I don't understand what it is.


Thank you so much for posting this. I've lived in Tupelo 31 years, and have always been fascinated by the original alignments of 78 and 45. I found out that prior to the construction of McCollough Blvd,  after 78 turned right on Gloster, heading north with 45, it made a left turn onto Jackson, and then a right on Clayton, which it followed out of town, pre-McCollugh Bld. (4 lane). What still elides me however is what path 78 took through Tupelo before 45 was Gloster. We know 45 went through downtown on Spring and Green, but what was the exact alignment of 78 before the 1936 version of 45 (Gloster) was built?
I could be wrong, but I believe that photo of 4 lane 78 (McCollough Blvd) is looking to the east. I think that is looking at where the 4 lane ended just before Mt. Vernon Road.
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rustypugh

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Re: The 1960s US 78 bypass of Tupelo
« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2022, 11:21:31 AM »

Thank you so much for posting this. I've lived in Tupelo 31 years, and have always been fascinated by the original alignments of 78 and 45. I found out that prior to the construction of McCollough Blvd,  after 78 turned right on Gloster, heading north with 45, it made a left turn onto Jackson, and then a right on Clayton, which it followed out of town, pre-McCollugh Bld. (4 lane). The mystery for me however is what path 78 took through Tupelo before 45 was Gloster. We know 45 went through downtown on Spring and Green, but what was the exact alignment of 78 before the 1936 version of 45 (Gloster) was built?
« Last Edit: March 24, 2022, 11:23:35 AM by rustypugh »
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The Ghostbuster

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Re: The 1960s US 78 bypass of Tupelo
« Reply #14 on: March 24, 2022, 04:02:01 PM »

This is a little further east, but I have noticed that US 78's successor, MS 178, has a gap over the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway west of Fulton. I assume the former US 78 bridge over present-day MS 178 was eliminated when the present-day Interstate 22/US 78 bypass of that segment was built. Does anyone have any background knowledge about why MS 178 does not cross the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway, and whether there was a bridge or a ferry at the location where US 78 crossed the waterway?
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Re: The 1960s US 78 bypass of Tupelo
« Reply #15 on: March 24, 2022, 08:44:57 PM »

This is a little further east, but I have noticed that US 78's successor, MS 178, has a gap over the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway west of Fulton. I assume the former US 78 bridge over present-day MS 178 was eliminated when the present-day Interstate 22/US 78 bypass of that segment was built. Does anyone have any background knowledge about why MS 178 does not cross the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway, and whether there was a bridge or a ferry at the location where US 78 crossed the waterway?

I think possibly the waterway came later, as in MDOT originally built the US 78/I-22 bridge over the waterway as going over an under-construction canal or the canal ROW, and that there never was a MS 178 bridge over it.  Wikipedia says the waterway was completed in December 1984.  That might be after the freeway opened.
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rcm195

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Re: The 1960s US 78 bypass of Tupelo
« Reply #16 on: March 25, 2022, 12:02:10 AM »

Indeed, old US 78 went into downtown Fulton MS. It was two lanes. It then continued past Itawamba Community College and into a swampy area which is now where the Tenn-Tom Waterway is located. There never was a bridge for MS 178.

I hope there are some pictures or at least some of you remember what the Tombigbee River used to look like. It was little more than a small stream near Fulton. Mostly it was low line swamps and lots of snakes. 😉
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Re: The 1960s US 78 bypass of Tupelo
« Reply #17 on: March 25, 2022, 10:52:46 AM »

Billy's right.  The waterway came later.  Pre Tenn-Tom, where old-78/current-178 used to be was just forested land.  With them building a bridge over the new waterway just to the south for current-78/now-22, there was no need for another bridge at old-78.
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Re: The 1960s US 78 bypass of Tupelo
« Reply #18 on: March 25, 2022, 11:23:21 AM »

This is a little further east, but I have noticed that US 78's successor, MS 178, has a gap over the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway west of Fulton. I assume the former US 78 bridge over present-day MS 178 was eliminated when the present-day Interstate 22/US 78 bypass of that segment was built. Does anyone have any background knowledge about why MS 178 does not cross the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway, and whether there was a bridge or a ferry at the location where US 78 crossed the waterway?

I think possibly the waterway came later, as in MDOT originally built the US 78/I-22 bridge over the waterway as going over an under-construction canal or the canal ROW, and that there never was a MS 178 bridge over it.  Wikipedia says the waterway was completed in December 1984.  That might be after the freeway opened.



They did that for the never built Cross Florida Barge Canal on FL 40. A high bridge for the anticipated waterway that was scrubbed almost or around 50 years ago.

So they probably were told to build the bridge before hand to avoid the hassle later.


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cbalducc

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Re: The 1960s US 78 bypass of Tupelo
« Reply #19 on: March 27, 2022, 11:47:32 PM »

There is a paved road called the Bankhead Road paralleling Highway 178 between Mooreville and Dorsey.  This was the original route for Highway 78.  So I-22 was actually the third alignment in this area for Highway 78.
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rustypugh

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Re: The 1960s US 78 bypass of Tupelo
« Reply #20 on: April 14, 2022, 08:50:09 AM »

Are my posts not showing up or something? Can anyone shed light on this? I was asking Tom958, who did the original post on 78 through Tupelo, but he won't reply. Can anyone tell me the exact alignment of 78 through Tupelo PRIOR to the 1936 alignment of U.S. 45 down Gloster street? I know the following: U.S. 45 originally used Green, Spring and Magazine streets through Tupelo, and was then aligned down Gloster street with new construction in about 1936. I know U.S. 78 came in from the east ORIGINALLY on Martin Hill drive in east Tupelo, and entered Tupelo on Main Street. After the Gloster alignment of 45 was done, 78 intersected 45 at Crosstown. turned north, and then left (west) on Jackson, then north on Clayton to leave town. (This was PRIOR to the construction of the 4 lane version of 78, McCollugh Blvd.) So, what path did 78 take once it reached downtown Tupelo? Anyone?
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Re: The 1960s US 78 bypass of Tupelo
« Reply #21 on: April 14, 2022, 09:17:25 AM »

^ Early topographic maps suggest two things.  First, that 45 stayed on Green St and never used Spring or Magazine, or was realigned to follow all of Green St BEFORE its move to Gloster.  Second is that 78 turned north concurrent with 45 on Green St then turned onto Jackson and Clayton.
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Re: The 1960s US 78 bypass of Tupelo
« Reply #22 on: April 14, 2022, 01:07:37 PM »

1932 MS Official Map clearly shows an overlay on MS 6 to the west edge of town.

The correct place to get the answer is either an Automobile Blue book from the mid-1920s (Hathi Library didn't have any I could find except 1921 and the direct road from New Albany to Tupelo was 'under construction') or a mid-late 1920s Auto Trails Map with the accompanying directory booklet that would probably have a Tupelo map in it.  Have not yet run across one of these.

 incidentally, US 45's predecessor went Spring-Main-Green according to that Blue Book...though the 1923 topo clearly shows Green all the way.
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Re: The 1960s US 78 bypass of Tupelo
« Reply #23 on: April 25, 2022, 11:59:02 AM »

I've seen the 1923 topo. The reason it looks like 45 went down Green all the way is because they highlighted that in red because that was the concrete road from Saltillo to Verona, built in 1915, which was designated 45 from Saltillo down to Tupelo's north side. However, multiple sources indicate that 45 split off from this road (Green St) on the north side, and followed Spring street into downtown, where it made a right on Magazine, then another left back onto Green to rejoin the old concrete road to Verona. I have a book of old photos of Tupelo (Images of America). There's a photo of the old Jefferson Davis Hotel at the corner of Spring and Jefferson that was taken in late 20s or early 30s, and you can clearly see a 45 shield on a lamppost. In fact there are other photos in that book where they talk about Spring Street being 45, up until the "new" 45 was aligned down Gloster in 1936. There's just a gap where it is unclear exactly which path 78 took through Tupelo once it crossed the GM&O railroad on main street in downtown. After 45 moved to Gloster, 78 went down main and intersected 45 at crosstown, then headed north.
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Re: The 1960s US 78 bypass of Tupelo
« Reply #24 on: April 25, 2022, 08:20:55 PM »

The correct place to get the answer is either an Automobile Blue book from the mid-1920s (Hathi Library didn't have any I could find except 1921 and the direct road from New Albany to Tupelo was 'under construction') or a mid-late 1920s Auto Trails Map with the accompanying directory booklet that would probably have a Tupelo map in it.  Have not yet run across one of these.
As best as I can tell, the 1923 ABB says Main-Broadway-Jefferson-Gloster-Blair-Clayton. Of course that's pre-US 78.
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