US Highway 33 is another highway with a north-south number that actually traces a diagonal during most of its length. It was commissioned in 1935 by the American Association of State Highway Officials (today's AASHTO) to serve as a regional connector route between the northern industrial areas of Indiana and Michigan, and the hills of upper Appalachia. Today, US 33 still serves that purpose, and provides the traveler with a picturesque drive along many parts of its route.

Though the eastern terminus of US 33 has always been in Richmond, Virginia, the northern terminus has changed four times over the course of the route's existence. The route originally began in St. Joseph, Michigan, at an intersection with US 12 and US 31 at Port Street. In 1951, the terminus moved to the intersection of Niles Avenue and Main Street, with US 33 being carried on Niles Avenue. The route was extended in 1960 up to the city of Lake Michigan Beach, where its terminus came at a junction with the new US 31 freeway (today's Interstate 196).

As more portions of the US 31 freeway were completed, US 33 (which had been carried on that road as well) was moved back to Niles, Michigan in 1986. The latest change came in 1998, when US 33 was removed from Michigan altogether, and truncated back to a point near Elkhart, Indiana. There the route commences today, at an interchange with the US 20 freeway.

Heading out of Elkhart to the southeast, US 33 calls first at Goshen, Indiana. Known as the “Maple City” owing to the many maple trees in the city, Elkhart was also the birthplace of American motion picture director Howard Hawks. As the highway leaves the city, it turns to the southeast on its way to Fort Wayne. At the outskirts of Fort Wayne, US 33 becomes part of the Interstate 469 ring road around the city. Fort Wayne, named for General “Mad” Anthony Wayne, is Indiana's second-largest city and was the home of Philo T. Farnsworth, one of the main developers of all-electronic television.

US 33 leaves the city again on its own pavement and, as Fort Wayne is near the state line, the highway soon enters Ohio. Still cutting a diagonal path, US 33 passes through St. Mary's and crosses the old Dixie Highway and Interstate 75 at Wapakoneta, birthplace of the first man to set foot on the Moon, astronaut Neil Armstrong. The highway continues on through the cities of Bellefontaine and Marysville on its way to Columbus, the capital city of Ohio.

Approaching the city of Columbus from the northwest, US 33 follows the nearby Scioto River toward downtown. Columbus is home to the Ohio State University, and is the birthplace of World War II aviation ace Eddie Rickenbacker, for whom the international airport is named. In its course through the city, US 33 crosses US Highway 40, better known as the National Road, and Interstates 70 and 71. It leaves the city to the southeast and becomes freeway-standard near Lancaster.

As US 33 moves on through increasingly mountainous country, the traveler gets a sense of passing from the industrial North into the old Southland from the accompanying change in terrain. Approaching Logan, known as the “Gateway to the Hocking Valley” recreational area, the highway enters the Wayne National Forest. It passes nearby Athens, where the traveler may visit Ohio University, the Northwest Territory's first institution of higher learning. US 33 winds on through the Hocking Valley and soon crosses the mighty Ohio River into West Virginia.

At Ripley, US 33 intersects a highway that was once a major north-south route, US Highway 21, now decommissioned. There, US 33 turns to track a definite east-west course and heads toward Buckhannon and Elkins. Just after Elkins, the highway enters the Mongahela National Forest and starts a winding course through the forest, running near the Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area. At Seneca Rocks, the highway turns southeasterly again to pass by Shenandoah Mountain as it enters Virginia.

Now meandering through the Appalachian Mountains, US 33 turns a bit more southward through regions of Virginia rich in Civil War history, heading toward its final destination of Richmond. Capital not only of the old Confedracy, but of Virginia itself, Richmond is a modern city that remembers its history and is proud of it, with many monuments and memorials to its Civil War and Revolutionary War past.

There is some dispute as to exactly where US 33 ends in Richmond, given that the terminus has shifted over the years and existing data isn't exactly clear. According to 'Mapguy' Dale Sanderson, "... it appears that eastbound US 33 ends at Broad and Hancock, and westbound begins at Broad and Harrison." Thus, after approximately 709 miles, US 33 comes to its end.

SOURCES

Droz, Robert V., "Sequential List of US Highways", US Highways From US 1 to US 830. July 2003. <http://www.us-highways.com/us1830.htm> (September 2007)
Sanderson, Dale. "Highway Ends", End of US Highway 33. 2000-2006. < http://www.geocities.com/usend3039/End033/end033.htm>. (September 2007).

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