The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) today released an online archive of Wisconsin’s Official State Highway Map over the past 100 years. The first edition of the state highway map was printed in 1918 for public distribution. Since then, Wisconsin residents and visitors reference the highway maps to reach their destination or simply explore the wonders across the state.
“We are excited to share this online archive as a time capsule of Wisconsin’s state highway maps from the past century,” WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson said. “We hope Wisconsinites, visitors and history enthusiasts enjoy this fun opportunity to look back through time and explore the changes to our transportation infrastructure.”
The first few map publications in the 1920s served as a guide of the state trunk network and sold for 10 cents per copy. By the 1930s, maps were distributed for free to the public with a new emphasis on road safety. The maps also promoted travel and tourism for residents and visitors to enjoy the great amenities across Wisconsin. Tourism promotion included catchy themes and slogans, governor’s welcome messages, photos and engaging advertisements. Today’s map includes the highway map data and creative content developed by WisDOT and the Wisconsin Department of Tourism.
Wisconsin’s Official State Highway Map is distributed free to the public—required by state law. Even in a world with increasing options for GPS and electronic wayfinding service, demand for the latest version of this 100-year-old paper map remains high. It’s distributed through the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, visitor centers, rest areas, gas stations, and other businesses and organizations throughout the state.
Visit WisDOT’s official Wisconsin highway map website to view the online archive or order a state highway map. The next edition of the map will be published in summer 2023.