It’s a long way to Barstow, even without the sign

“Route 66 connected the Midwest and California, but I-40 is truly cross-country….

“A few miles outside Wilmington, North Carolina, the eastern terminus of 40, as well as the hometown of Michael Jordan and port of Civil War blockade runners, a sign stands on I-40 that reads: Barstow, Calif.  2,554. Nowhere else is the power of our highway system to cast the continent in its net more dramatically stated. We forget how astonishing it is that one can get on a strip of asphalt and drive without stoplight or intersection for a distance greater than the diameter of the moon (a mere 2,160 miles).”

— From “Highway” by Phil Patton in American Heritage (October 2002)

The famous Barstow sign, erected in 1990, met with repeated thefts until the N.C. Department of Transportation decided not to burn yet another $600 in replacement costs. Decorators of dorm rooms and man caves wept.