US Route 11 in Abingdon

U.S. Highways, more aptly those referred to as US Route ___, often serve as windows to the roadside from a few decades ago. Many U.S. highways existed before the interstate system, and at that time, everything a traveler needed could be found next to the highway rather than at an exit. Highways rolled through towns and cities, not around them like interstates do. While towns have been bypassed and land adjacent to highways developed, certain US Routes still provide an excellent showcase of good old Roadside America architecture and businesses. US Route 11 is such an example, and when I visited Elyse in Abingdon, VA a few months ago, she took me on a driving tour of the roadside architecture highlights in the area. It was a rainy weekend, but that didn’t take away from the roadside entertainment. Here’s a photograph roadside tour with comments:

The Moonlite Drive-in Theater in Abingdon

The Moonlite Drive-in Theater in Abingdon

Moonlite marquee

Moonlite marquee

The theater is still in operation - I just visited out of season.

The theater is still in operation - I just visited out of season.

The Hi-Lo Burgers & Shakes, still operating. It is a drive up window.

The Hi-Lo Burgers & Shakes, still operating. It is a drive up window.

Hi-Lo is raising money in order to restore the neon sign.

Hi-Lo is raising money in order to restore the neon sign.

Further south, closer to Bristol, the Evergreen Motor Court, still open.

Further south, closer to Bristol, the Evergreen Motor Court, still open.

Across the street from the Evergreen, the Robert E Lee Motel is abandoned. There were some neat glass block windows visible.

Across the street from the Evergreen, the Robert E Lee Motel is abandoned. There were some neat glass block windows visible.

This is not historic, but I had to laugh. I'd never heard of Pal's. As it turns out, the restaurant chain dates to the 1950s and this particular building idea, 1985. Check out the Pal's timeline http://www.palsweb.com/timeline.htm

This is not historic, but I had to laugh. I'd never heard of Pal's. As it turns out, the restaurant chain dates to 1956 and this particular building idea, 1985. Check out the Pal's timeline http://www.palsweb.com/timeline.htm

Not on US 11, but near Bristol, TN is the world' largest guitar and museum. The museum was closed when Elyse and I stopped to visit. The guitar strings definitely needed to be tightened, but regardless it was fun to see!

Not on US 11, but near Bristol, TN is the world' s only guitar shaped museum. The museum was closed when Elyse and I stopped to visit. The guitar strings definitely needed to be tightened, but regardless it was fun to see!

For sunny Route 11 photographs, check out this group on Flickr.