Anybody who shares my fascination with the arcana of highway routes, end points, signage and so forth (don’t all y’all raise your hands at once) probably fetched up, as I did, on a brief item in Wednesday’s paper (click here for a fuller version).
It seems that road signs with the numbers 6-6-6 have become a target for thieves, vandals, cultists, or perhaps self-appointed exorcists of the asphalt.
This all relates to the theory, held by some, that three sixes comprise a number with an unhealthily Satanic appeal. So, evidently, when a road sign carries the three accursed digits, noble souls step forward to spirit it away. (Are they thereby getting on the devil’s enemies’ list?)
Our story referred to incidents in New Jersey, where “66.6” mileposts have disappeared. But that put me in mind of the controversy over U.S. Route 666. In keeping with the numbering system for federal highways, that was a branch road off old U.S. 66, the fabled highway that used to link Chicago and Los Angeles before it was supplanted by interstates. (Route 66 has made a comeback with designation as a historic road, but that’s fodder for another day.)
Anyway, there used to be a U.S. 666, running between Utah and Arizona. It was redesignated in 2003 after the government could no longer take the heat from those who thought its highway-to-hell numerology was unseemly. Also, it seems that "666" signs were being stolen faster than they could be replaced.
One of the best time-wasting devices I’ve found is a site where the alignments and end points of all U.S. highways are explored to a level of detail calculated to satisfy the most obsessive road geek, which is by definition what anyone who winds up on such a site is called. The photos of highway terminus points, showing appropriate signs, are especially addictive. (One of my favorites is a shot of the last southbound U.S. 421 shield, along with an “END” sign, where the pavement runs out in the sands below Fort Fisher.)
Follow this link, and you can read about the U.S. 666 controversy and see lots of photos. Now, get back to work.