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Brian and Charlotte Smith

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Arrow Quest

Charlotte Smith

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 over 126 existing known arrow locations (see home page for acurate count).

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

Sometimes Interesting
Concrete Arrows and the U.S. Airmail System

Antique Airfield
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
(This site has been taken down and is no longer available)

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. We give them credit for their discovery and photos.

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. http://www.dreamsmithphotos.com/arrow/airmail_routes/navigation_maps/maps_link.html

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 2014 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).

We have been on 4 arrow quests and logged over 22,000 miles since we started. We have visited 19 States and photographed 94 arrow locations.

It has been an adventure of a lifetime. We have met so many wonderful people along our journey.

We believe that this entry is what caused our website to be seen.

George Takei Facebook link to twentytwowords.com

Authorized use of our arrow photos:

Our Facebook Page: Concrete Arrows and Beacons

Daily Mail Travel Online
Featured some of our arrow photos

Mobile Ranger
Using some of our photos in their blog and app

LaVernia Woods Great Aviation Adventure

Smithsonian Air & Space Magazine: 

“What on Earth” filmed in Nevada desert at Golconda and Pumpernickel arrow, August 24, 2015.
Segment about us was shown on Tuesday February 16th 2016, on the Science Channel.  The name of the show is called ‘What on Earth’, our segment was called, “Large arrows in America's Badlands"

Season 2, Episode 4 Who Built Supervillain Island? First Aired: February 16, 2016
Large arrows in America's Badlands; a blood-red waterfall in Antarctica; and huge holes in the Siberian landscape.
You Tube charges 1.99 to view the entire episode, or you can see it in re-runs.

Phone interview with Mary Devine, June 22, 2017:
“Looking for St. Paul? Look for the giant concrete arrow in Cottage Grove”

CNN Travel Article Phone article with Francesca Street June 5, 2018:

Salt Lake City Fox 13 News skype interview July 11, 2018:

KMZU 100.7 Phone interview with, Roccos Scarcello on July 16, 2018

Ouest France, a French daily newspaper phone interview with, Hélaine Lefrançois, on July 17, 2018 (for English version right mouse click and choose translate to English)

Odessa American newspaper / online We had a phone interview with Cory Paul on July 18, 2018


If any of these links stop working please let us know.

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Arrows Across America


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