Highway 301

1932

The highway’s many nicknames are an indication that it was popular among tourists throughout the second quarter of the twentieth century. These names included: “Tobacco Trail,” “Highway of Southern Hospitality,” “Tourist Highway,” “Shortest Route from Maine to Florida,” and “The Washington-Florida Short Route.”

Construction of this major U.S. highway in South Carolina began in 1932 during the Great Depression, when the federal government began taking over the maintenance and construction of many state roads. The route began at Baltimore, Maryland, and ended at Sarasota, Florida, crossing through many towns in eastern South Carolina, including Dillon, Latta, Florence, Manning, Olanta, Sumerton, Bamberg, and Allendale. From the North Carolina border to the Savannah River, Highway 301 covers a distance of approximately 180 miles.

The highway’s many nicknames are an indication that it was popular among tourists throughout the second quarter of the twentieth century. These names included: “Tobacco Trail,” “Highway of Southern Hospitality,” “Tourist Highway,” “Shortest Route from Maine to Florida,” and “The Washington-Florida Short Route.” This road was popular among tourists because it avoided some of the larger cities, had no toll bridges or ferries, and was paved its entire length.

During the 1950s this highway was a major U.S. north-south route, well known to travelers in the eastern United States. Even the popular television show I Love Lucy, featured an episode where Lucille Ball traveled in an automobile with a woman who always traveled Highway 301 to Florida. This highway created a demand for restaurants and motels in South Carolina. Some popular motels included the Lewis Motel in Olanta, the Santee Motor Company in Manning, the Holiday in Florence, and the Cotton Patch Motel in Bamberg.

The building of Interstate 95 in the late 1950s and 1960s, which ran almost parallel to U.S. 301, caused the tourist traffic to decline on the older highway. Businesses on U.S. 301, particularly the motel operators, had difficulty in maintaining their customer base. Several rebuilt near the interstate, while others operated at a much slower pace.

Moore, John Hammond. The South Carolina Highway Department, 1917–1987. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1987.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Highway 301
  • Coverage 1932
  • Author
  • Keywords Great Depression, “Tobacco Trail,” “Highway of Southern Hospitality,” “Tourist Highway,” “Shortest Route from Maine to Florida,” , “The Washington-Florida Short Route.”,
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date June 25, 2021
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update September 22, 2016
Go to Top