# Read the Signs - Decode The Hidden Meanings

Updated on March 7, 2012

I love to travel. Some destinations make great road trips and we love to drive, planning stops along the route for fun. I always carry a Rand McNally and more recently a GPS device. The GPS is great but not always dependable. If road changes occur it takes a while for them to be changed.

Street signs are made to warn, inform, guide and regulate driving directions. In some signs there are hidden meanings - if you can read them, they can prevent you from getting lost or help you when you are lost. For example interstate signs - the number of digits and whether they are even or odd can be good clues.

## Interstate Signs

Interstate signs are usually red, white and blue. In general even numbered roads will run from east to west and odd numbered roads will run north and south.

If an Interstate is one-digit or 2-digit odd number it means the interstate runs north and south. A one or two-digit even numbered Interstate sign typically runs west and east.

Triple digit numberd interstates that are even numbered usually indicate that they run in a loop around other cities. So, Interstate 270 literally loops back to Interstate 70.

If the triple-digit numbered Interstate Sign is an odd number it implies a "spur" route which means there is a connecting highway but only at one end. It does not loop.

For example, on the map below you can see that Interstate 39 an odd numbered interstates, runs north and south. Interstatee 94 runs east and west.

If you are on Interstate 5 - it indicates you have roughly 5% of the U.S. to the west of you. If you are on Interstate 95 - you will have roughly 95% of the U.S. to the west of you.

A

get directions

## Shapes & Colors

While paying attention to numbers is important, shapes and colors are important as well. The shape of a sign indicates the type of roadway: Interstate, United State, State or Couny. The color of the sign can also offer clues.

• Red = Stop, Yield, Prohibited
• Black = Regulatory
• White = Regulatory
• Yellow = Warning
• Orange = Construction
• Green = Directional and Distance
• Blue = Mortorist Services
• Brown = Public Recreation and Cultural Interests

## Mile Markers

Mile markers on highways and interstates are important to note. Not only do they pinpoint your exact location in case you need emergency services but they can also help you find your way.

Mile markers always go down in number as you travel south and they get higher as you travel north.

Mile markers also always decline as you travel west and get higher as you travel east.

## Warning Signs

The directional arrow sign means there will be a sharp turn to the left (in the direction of the arrow) and they advise a speed of twenty five miles per hour.

There are many warning signs that every driver should know to ensure his/her own safety as well as every other driver on the road. While most signs are easy to decipher, some mean more than they appear at first glance.

Test your knowledge and take the quiz - can you read the signs?

## Secret Routes

There are certain areas in the United States that have streets that do not appear on maps. They are also not marked by street or other road signs. Connecticut has many of them. Most of them are long ramps or connecting roadways. In Missouri, when a subdivision is being built a proposed plat is drawn up with street names. In my county, 911 is responsible for assigning street numbers for housing addresses. Typically address numbers on the south and east side of the street are even numbered and the north and the west side are odd numbered.

Apparently, there are "secret routes." These streets are never supposed to be mapped or posted but on occasion certain addresses have been leaked to the media. There are over 200 secret routes in Connecticut and they are all numbered highways above 400 and up to 900.

I mapped Area 51 which is known to exist and the governments denials about its purpose only makes it more fascinating. I have shown a map with pin point markers from Las Vegas, Nevada to Area 51 which is approximately 83 miles away. If you click on "show route and directions" you will see that there IS a street there. However, there is no designated name of the street at all. Photography is prohibited and the use of deadly force may be used to remove trespassers.

## Area 51 - Is the street there or not?

A
Las Vegas, NV, USA

get directions

B
Area 51, NV, USA

get directions

## The Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center

The Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center is located at 19844 Blue Ridge Mountain Road, Blue Ridge, Virginia. It is on State Route 601 although you won't find it on any map.

This center was built in the 1950s during the cold war. In case of a national disaster or crises, all the federal government / Executive Branch members will certainly be heading in that direction. It is about 48 miles by air from Washington, D.C. and 54 miles by road. There is reportedly a huge underground complex and tunnel entrances that are not marked. Visitors will not be admitted without prior authorization.

I entered the address into google images and viewed the image as a satellite image. It is very odd with markers fashioned in circles and semi circles that dot the property. It is strangely reminiscent of stone henge.

If you click on "show route and directions" you will see that there is a road there, but it is a secret, so please don't tell anyone I told you!

## 600 Route - It is there!

A
19844 Blue Ridge Mountain Rd.,:
19844 Mountain Rd, Blue Ridge, VA 20169, USA

get directions

B
Washington D.C.:
Washington, DC, USA

get directions

## Popular

Submit a Comment
• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Hi Catalinafr - thank you so very much:)

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Hi First Colony,

I only included the video because I thought that it was funny that they were releasing the location of a "secret" place on national television:) lol

Thank you so much for the link too! That sounds pretty cool - I would love to take a tour like that! I am going to have to check it out!

• First Colony

7 years ago

I'm confused-the video that accompanies the bunker section is for a "secret" Federal Reserve building in Richmond. Did you mean for this to be another hidden thing, or was the video supposed to talk about the Emergency Operations Center?

Also, the secret underground bunker for the President and others is located in West Virginia at the Greenbrier Hotel. It was codenamed "Project Greek Island", and has now been de-commissioned and you can now take tours. Here is a link for more info. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Greek_Island

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Hey thank you Bill! Actually the research was a pain...this Info isn't readily available anywhere. I was surprised at how hard it was to find a few answers I was looking for. I suppose because we don't have international agreement on these things that it's kind of confusing!

• Bill Holland

7 years ago from Olympia, WA

That was actually pretty interesting. I knew what most of these things meant but I did learn a couple new things. Great job of research on this. Well done Kelly!

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Hi TrahnTheMan - Thanks - helpful is good:) lol I love to travel so I have always been interested in this kind of thing - hope you get to come back to the states for a visit again! Thanks for sharing too:)

• TrahnTheMan

7 years ago from Asia, Oceania & between

This hub would have been real helpful on my first trip to the States! Ah well, now I can direct my family to it when they come to visit! Thanks.

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Hi Millionaire - thanks! Yeah - I can get lost with a GPS in my hand! lol It happens!

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Thank you so much extended-stay! It is always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings:)

• Shasta Matova

7 years ago from USA

You've posted all sorts of good information. It certainly would come in handy when I am lost, as long as I remember where I was trying to go! Thanks.

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Hi Sharyn - thank you! I probably will have that problem too - I mean the mind is the first thing to go, right? This memory decline is all normal, isn't it? haha! I am lucky if I can remember where I parked my car half the time! lol

• Sharon Smith

7 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

Hi Kel,

Obviously I have not paid attention too much to signs since about 75% of this was new to me. I'm so glad you did your homework and shared it with us here. Great job. Now I hope I can remember all this!

Sharyn

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Hi Eddy! Thank you so very much!! I hope you have a lovely day as well!!

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Wow! Thanks so much mschief! I read that - SO interesting! I am going to link it up here! Thank you!!!

I know it might SOUND crazy but we can decode the signs:) lol

• Eiddwen

7 years ago from Wales

A true gem and thank you for sharing.

Here's to so many more for both of us to share on here.

Take care and enjoy your day.

Eddy.

• mschief

7 years ago

hi kelly! my sister was telling me awhile back that she had read something about secret lettering or numbering on the back of interstate signs. she was saying that in case of a national emergency that the military would take over the interstates and drive on them the opposite direction using the lettering or numbering on the back of the signs for directions. i know this sounds crazy but is there any truth to it? you might want to read this article http://www.godlikeproductions.com/forum1/message47...

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Thank you DzyMsLizzy! I am going to google it and see if I can find out any other interesting info!

• Liz Elias

7 years ago from Oakley, CA

Hi again--

I actually learned that information AT a highway rest stop on I-5 many, many years ago..(long before the Internet). It was on a large signboard put up by CalTrans,** and it explained the highway numbering system in great detail.

(**CalTrans is the CA transportation authority, responsible for roadway construction & maintenance)

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Hi Peter and thank you very much! I'm all fascinated with Government secrets too - everyone loves a good conspiracy story even if they don't believe it, right? But Area 51 is so secretive - you know it has got to have stuff we probably wouldn't even believe!

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Hi ytsenoh - oh I envy you! I wanted to try to drive to Area 51 when I was in Vegas a few months ago - but we ran out of time. I have to go back again - just for that reason if no other.

Thanks! I didn't realize signs in Kansas were blue....I live on the MO / IL border and I guess I haven't ventured off into that area much! Barbergirl28 went through there recently and took her kids to see the actual Wizard of Oz house! Now I want to take my kids there too - that sounds like fun:). Thanks so much!

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Oh thank you Dzy! Interesting about the numbers beginning and ending in the same number! You know, it should be easier to locate this type of information - but while I was researching it was not readily available and some were very contradictory! I even went to an over the road truck driving website - the info was wrong!! It would be simpler too - if all the states could at least agree on road signs being the same!

I love camping! Ok - I like camping what I call Ladystyle....we float on the river with the kids and dogs - then picnic or BBQ and go to the Holiday Inn:) haha! I swear...I do it that way every year...each year I'm more appreciative of the hot shower and remote control! Roughing it:) lol.

• Peter Allison

7 years ago from Alameda, CA

Very cool hub. This is a great primer for 'not getting lost'. I like how it forked into X-files material too ;-)

• Cathy

7 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

RealHousewife, thanks for this humorous hub. It was interesting too. So much information and some of which I did not know, so it was useful also. I liked your inclusion of Area 51 since I drove to Roswell en route to California one year. A fun trip! Here, locally, street signs in Missouri are green, but when you cross over into Kansas, they are blue. Keep up the nice work.

• Liz Elias

7 years ago from Oakley, CA

Ah, yes--when my kids were young, I used to take them on assorted camping trips, sometimes out of state. Of course, I grew up in a camping family, and my dad taught me all about map reading and road signs. On our trips, my younger daughter picked up map reading very well, and became my navigator. (Long before GPS was available!)

There is one other 'trick,' and that is, triple-digit route numbers, beginning and ending in the same number, are cutoffs or shortcuts between two other routes.

For example, in California, Interstate routes 80 and 5 do cross each other near Sacramento. However, if you want to head north on 5 from San Francisco, you must leave the City on highway 80. To join up with 5 at Sacramento is about a 25 mile detour and back-track. However, there is a cutoff, Route 505 that takes off from 80 at Vacaville, and joins Route 5 at Dunnigan.

Similarly, going from the Antioch area in the East Bay toward Concord, you will be on State highway 4. Highway 4 will take you to Interstate 680 just out of Martinez, north of Concord, again a 'backtrack' situation. So, you take the 242 just past the Port Chicago exit, which dumps you into 680 more directly, and takes you right into Concord.

These same-beginning/ending number routes don't go anywhere else. They are simply shortcuts between other highly traveled highways.

Voted up, interesting, useful and shared.

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Hey TY - we have played that alphabet game several times on the road - it does get boring! lol

Hey yeah shout out to Stacy too - and of course for your visit and comment:)

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Oh shoot - I do think it would have been fun to pay attention along you latest trip but you travel a lot! I guess that is why it interests me now that you mention it. I keep trying to figure out how I can find out where more "secret" roads are! lol I might have figured out a way and I think I am going to soon write a hub about how to search public records. I will try not to make it dry as toast:) lol

• ThoughtSandwiches

7 years ago from Reno, Nevada

Kelly...

I thought the "Winding Road" sign was a warning about drunk drivers ahead. I also like the "Trucks on Triangles" warnings I see...although...I have yet to see a truck on a triangle. Still...beats the alphabet game...

Shout-out to Stacy for sharing!

Thanks,

Thomas

• Stacy Harris

7 years ago from Hemet, Ca

I think my GPS knows of these secret routes... after all, the whole time we were driving back to Wisconsin... it kept trying to take us to roads that didn't exist... or did they???? HMMMM - I blamed it on the GPS being romantic in nature, but maybe it is really a part of a bigger plan and top secret in nature.

Great hub - can't believe I missed this one and I really could have used this before I left. After all - I might have found some secret roads to travel on that would have lead to some great adventures! :)

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Hilarious! That is a great idea! Thank you!

• Debby Bruck

7 years ago

+1 and high 5 This is the new "LIKE" button. hugs, Debby

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Thank you so much Debby! You have made my day! Lol. I laughed at the signs so much and the videos on YouTube are never ending. Sheesh, if ever you're in a bad mood - watch them:) haha!

I bet that lake has some pretty interesting history, I could have written a hub on just Area 51! Maybe I'll try to sneak in one day - ! Lol. Have a great weekend!

• Debby Bruck

7 years ago

Dear Kelly ~ Private Eye Extraordinaire and all around funniest woman! I loved this Hubpages and gave high marks. First of all I will share the Funny Road Signs because you could hear me laughing all over the house and then the intrigue with Area 51 and the shining lake which I wondered if it was radioactive and light up. The secrecy behind this area provides a sense of adventure for thrill seekers. I applaud your work. Blessings, Debby

P.S. And, of course, the educational signage will be useful to those preparing for their road test.

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Interesting! Maybe I'll branch out there some day:)

• Jim Higgins

7 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

We surely do. I will be writing about it from a West coast point of view.

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Hi xstatic - thank you so much. I noted in your bio you have been in title work - I have been involved in title work for about 25 years now:) lol In some way or another...I own an independent abstracting company! lol lol We have a few things in common!

• Jim Higgins

7 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

Great info! Too many people don't know or don't read the signs, so this should be a help for all of us. Great writing too!

• mythicalstorm273

7 years ago

This was too funny and entertaining in a way that I would never expect from a hub about road signs! Still it was also very useful because too many people do not drive well at all! I really loved seeing your sings that are funny... I have for sure seen my fair share of funny signs! My favorite though was the one you have pictured of the cow... beware of falling cows! lol.

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Hi Dexter - and thank you so much! I was considering doing this hub - so I started asking a bunch of people if they were aware of the interstate digits and mile markers - only one person did! It was my daughters boyfriend:) lol no one else had a clue what I was talking about and thought I was making it up! It is in our state's driving manual though:) don't think it's a test question but maybe it should be, huh? Lol

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

We have lots of problems here with peole just not getting a license or insurance! I suppose people figure they won't get caught but when they do? The 20 bucks it would have cost for the license would be cheap! Lol.

• Dexter Yarbrough

7 years ago from United States

Hi RealHousewife! What an interesting hub! I mean, there were some things about Interstate numbers that I never even considered. I am much more educated now. And I thank you!

• Carolee Samuda

7 years ago from Jamaica

Our colours are a bit different from yours but the basics are the same. One of our major problems here in Jamaica is that many people obtain their licensed by illegal means so don't know anything about the road signs.

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Hi Frog - I love that sign! Haha! That is great! LOL

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Ok I double checked and there are both yellow and red yield signs:). If they are red they are mandatory that you yield to oncoming traffic - if they are yellow they are just a warning. I looked at the place where you can order traffic series signs and they don't have yellow yield signs for sale? Maybe they don't make them any more?

I also checked again and the Intersates signs are United State signs, not all stars follow the federal manual on them so they can differ slightly from state to state But interstates and mile markers pretty much are the same every where including the rules:)

• The Frog Prince

7 years ago from Arlington, TX

Good un Kelly Girl. Here's one of my favs.

The Frog

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Yeah! I actually had to double check and here they are red. Dave said he thought they were yellow also but after he thought about it (I guess his visual memory helped him out:) he said "oh yeah - they are red here!" we think that maybe at some point in time they changed them. It does make more sense to have them red though because yellow to me - means it's cautionary or otherwise optional. I know sign colors are not international and not all states follow the same guidelines. Sign shapes also tell if they are I terminational, state or county. Like Junctions are county signs, Interstates are international and some state signs even name the state on them (such as Arizona).

Many states have red light and speed enforced cameras (here we have both) and some only have speed enforced cameras and some have none of the above. I believe a lot of that stuff is state mandated. I'm pretty sure very one is trying to conform to a more national use now - makes sense to me:)

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Hi Drbj- I loved that video! There were so many to choose from - there are some funny road signs out there and I'm for sure going to pay more attention and keep a camera in the car. I knew a few of those things but I had to double check a lot and the information is not easily found! Some states do not follow all the same rules so maybe they won't be on your next test:). Lol. Good luck with that - and I just realized my drivers license is expired! Thank you - mentioning that test actually reminded me of it:) good thing we have a six month gave period here!

• Lela

7 years ago from Somewhere near the heart of Texas

Red is for Stop signs, so it might improve the yield if they made the yield signs red too. I thought sign colors were international. Huh, who knew?

• drbj and sherry

7 years ago from south Florida

I didn't realize, Kelly, how much I did not know about road signs until I read your hub. Now I've got to do some homework before I dare take that road sign test. Loved the video with the crazy signs - I could really relate to them!

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Hi Casey - thank you! I haven't checked Reddit out yet but I have heard about it! There are so many social networks now days - I can't keep up with all of them! Lol. That one will be the next I add:).

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Ah ha! Yield are red signs here - maybe I have seen a few yellow but I looked it up and there are yellow and red! Some states do not follow the same rules and I wonder if the red ones are more current. I will have to check it out a Debbie is going to be the designated driver so she can worry about those yield signs in TX! Lol.

• Casey Strouse

7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Wow I never knew that the interstate signs were telling how much of the US you still had to travel through. This would be great material for a TIL post on Reddit.

• Lela

7 years ago from Somewhere near the heart of Texas

Yield is Yellow! Which in Texas means you're a coward. So you guys from out of state need to not only watch for yield signs, you need to watch for Texans that ignore them!

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Hey Austin - you also have my favorite sign of all - Drive friendly!

Yield is one of the red ones! Lol.

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Oh Effer! Thank you - your right I was too tired to be writing this I think! Lol. And I do remember thinking that was weird but I originally had written that if the beginning number was odd - but I found info later on another site that kind of contradicted it - so I rewrote that one sentence:) guess I need to edit so thank you very much:) someone wasn't sleeping!

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Hi Lord! I looked in my map and I couldn't find any info about the Interstate signs - I thought there should be! Lol. I wonder if ET is at area 51:). Dave and I looked at it on google images and there is a circular road! It's a perfect circle! Wonder what that is all about?

Thanks fir the comment and read!

• Paula

7 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Kelly....I must say...you have just provided some very interesting info, not to mention, all of it is brand new to me! DAMN! So much for thinking I know it all!! LOL...that'll never happen, which is why I love and appreciate my fellow hubbers so much. The things we share and learn amazes me every day!

Are you trying to confuse an old lady? in your comment about rtes 39 and 90....you said they're both odd-numbered. 90 is not an odd number..or is it me who's odd? Great hub, Kelly!! Up++

• Lela

7 years ago from Somewhere near the heart of Texas

We have a lot of deer crossing signs in Texas. The signs are put up whenever there is an increase in deer vs car accidents. G.W. Bush, while governor, wanted to have the signs moved so the deer would cross in the less crowded areas!

Then there are the triangular 'Yield' signs - what the heck are those about?

• Joseph De Cross

7 years ago from New York

I learned from Randall's Maps The meaning of odd numbers and when it's inbound. Great info about % of population to your left. Area 51 is a beauty! I wonder if ET got lost in Nevada, screaming, home! Home! I was traveling abroad and some signs are the same except for local ones, like STOP-SUGAR CANE BULLDOZZER...and so on!

Thanks for Sharing Kelly!

LORD

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Hi Susan - yes great point! They usually run the length of the state though there are a few weird exceptions. I missed five out of 30! I thought that was ok considering I haven't thought about some of those for years! I drive a lot too:)

Thanks I had fun doing the research too - Usually I find a wealth of info right away through google - I had to dig a lot this time. It was hard to find the information about the even and odd digits for example! That stuff, you'd think would be everywhere?

• Susan Zutautas

7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Mile markers are from state line to state line correct? Did one of the quizzes and happy to say I did quite well. So guess I am good to go when driving through the states. Great Hub!

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Hi Cagsil! Thank you so much! I knew about it but I couldn't remember exactly how it worked anymore so I asked a few people and not 1 person knew what the hell I was talking about:) lol lol Not that, that's unusual or anything either!

• Cagsil

7 years ago from USA or America

Hey Kelly, thank you for the education. LOL! :) It was definitely an interesting read. I didn't know about the Interstates and how the numbers were arranged. Great Hub! Voted up! :)

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Hi Ardie - I could have made this a two parter! lol I had no idea there was so much info involved in street signs - I knew a lot of it because, well, it's my day job:) lol I have seen a lot of weird stuff on plats and old documents so I may write another one, I just find it really hard to write about work subjects:) haha!

Thanks and be careful on the road and stay safe!

• Sondra

7 years ago from Neverland

So fun!!!! I already knew about the shapes and colors of street signs and what they meant but never in a million years did I think there was SO much more to the numbers! I'm going to remember the north-south and east-west rule especially :) as for your find...the secret is safe with me sssshhh

• AUTHOR

Kelly Umphenour

7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Hey Posh - thanks! I know satellite really throws a curve ball for the "secret" places but lots of buildings are underground. When I tried to look at a satellite image of area 51 - looked like dirt! I didn't see any of the outlying buildings as shown in the aerial photograph. I find it interesting they mark them in 400 - 900 and wonder if those numbers have special meanings like categories?

My husband said they guys were gonna like this one:) lol thanks again!

• Steve Mitchell

7 years ago from Cambridgeshire

Kelly, great information on roads and signs meanings. We have roads here which are not shown on any maps.Seems a bit pointless now with satellite technology, trying to conceal these places.

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