It all started with an e-mail that Brian sent me on August 16, 2013. I was hooked right from the beginning. Where were these? Why had I never heard of them? They still exist! Wow!!! I’d sure like to see one, I wonder where they are located? Is there any that I can get to? All these thoughts went racing thru my head, as I started looking for the location of these interesting artifacts from a long ago era.
I typed “concrete arrows” into my search engine, it doesn’t matter which one you use, and the first site I found was “Aviation Navigation Arrows”, by the Washington County Historical Society, in Washington County, Utah.
On this site I found
They had 3 arrows listed with gps co-ordinates:
Quail Creek Reservoir West Overlook (Beacon 37C)
Shinob Kibe (Beacon 37B
Bloomington Overlook (Beacon 37A)
A brief history about Air Mail
Links to C.A.M. Route #4
I decided to make links to these 3 arrows on Google Earth so that I would have a record of where they were located, and continued my search.
The next site was about C.A.M. routes and was focused on “airmail covers”, the letters that were sent on “first flights. It is called “Aerodacious”. I learned that there were 34 Contract Air Mail routes created by the Post Office in the mid 1920’s.
Still intrigued, I kept going, and found “BonnevilleMariner.com”, and learned about an arrow with 2 shafts, which was an intersect point of C.A.M. route #18 and C.A.M. route #4. I plotted it to Google Earth, and kept looking.
I eventually found “Zhanna's Survey Station” and NGS datasheets (National Geodetic Survey). Here I was able to down load her database containing beacon locations and searched using Google Earth to find whether or not there was an arrow still at the given location. Each time I found an arrow I plotted its location on Google Earth as a white star with red lettering (an arrow had to have most of its shape still visible), if there was a beacon or concrete pad, I plotted it with a white star and orange lettering. If it appeared to be completely destroyed and nothing was visible or it was built over, it was plotted as a light gray star and darker gray lettering. Using this method, I built a database of known beacon and arrow locations.
We decided to make a Historical website of what I had found and on September 7, 2013, started creating “Arrows Across America”. I had 53 arrow locations to begin with. We now have 115 known arrow location.
When I first started looking at sites on Google Earth, Google Maps, and Bing, many areas were blurry at ground level and it was impossible to tell if any was still there. They keep refining the various locations and often I have found something where nothing existed before by rechecking the site.
I periodically search for arrows and have found more by searching such as:
Who Turned Out the Lights? Various beacon sites throughout NV has airmail facts linked to each site
Concrete Arrows and the U.S. Airmail System
Website of the Antique Airplane Association & the Airpower Museum
Lots of airmail plane photos
U.S. Air Mail Service – 90th Anniversary
Open and Closed Listing of Airports / Airfields
CAA / FAA Intermediate Airfields in the US
Has gps detail and reference material for each site
Abandoned& Little-Known Airfields
Shows all 50 States has detail on location, old photos and what it is like at that location today. Has gps detail.
Flight Service History
Many links and lots of information has gps locations
Aviation Heritage Museum
Cibola County Historical Society
Air History Museum and interpretive site at Grants-Milan Airport, with complete beacon station and currently restoring the 1953 Flight Service Station.
Lots of historical photos depicting beacon sites in New Mexico
Cottage Grove Jim Wright Field Museum
Recreated a Beacon & arrow at 75% of normal size
Lots of information about local arrows
Many people have provided help with arrow locations and airmail detail information. See: Contributors page.
At first I was only looking for arrows, after a while I decided that the beacons were just as important, as they were quickly disappearing.
A few people started telling me, I had the wrong airway listed for my website, so I started looking for airway routes. A view of My Google Earth is now a colorful crossing of lines, stars, and airport symbols.
I have found a resource that has been very beneficial to my research at HathiTrust’s digital library. https://www.hathitrust.org/
It has digital copies of Aeronautical Bulletins and Airway Bulletins, airport descriptions and strip maps showing airways and airway sections that the early pilots used to navigate the county side, plus much more, old airway magazines, Congressional records, Post Office records, Army records etc.
At the Library of Congress database I found air navigation maps showing the airways, where intermediate fields were located, and where beacons were during a specific period of time. Each time they updated a map the airway changed slightly. I try to use the earliest beacon number reference for a site that I can find, but have recently come to the conclusion to show every know site number and airway that a site was called by, and am in the process of updating each site.
I think this pretty much covers how I have located the arrows and what I am trying to find.
Brian and I decided to see how many of the arrow sites we could actually get to and take pictures of. In May 2013 we plotted a 5,000 mile course which followed interstate 80 from Sacramento, California east to North Platte, South to Dallas (where we stopped to visit family) then west back home. We had 80 sites to visit, some we could not get to because of locked gates and no tresspassing signs and really bad weather (we got snowed on in Wyoming). We returned home with 40 + arrow site photos and numerous airport beacon photos (I never counted them).
Our arrow photos have been found at:
Our Facebook Page: Concrete Arrows and Beacons
George Takei Facebook link to twentytwowords.com
Daily Mail Travel Online
Featured some of our arrow photos
Using some of our photos in their blog and app