The Route: Long Island to Cleveland

Pilots flying the mail cross-country in 1921 followed these directions to find landmarks along the way.

Landing field at Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, October 1935. Note the "large white circle" called out in the directions. (NASM (SI-91-8506))

U. S. Air Mail Service
Pilots' Directions (February 1921)

Long Island, New York to Bellefonte, Pennsylvania

0.      Hazelhurst Field, Long Island—Follow the tracks of the Long Island Railroad past Belmont Park race track, keeping Jamaica on the left. Cross New York over the lower end of Central Park.

25.    Newark, N.J.—Heller Field is located in Newark and may be identified as follows: The field is 1 ¼ miles west of the Passaic River and lies in the V formed by the Greenwood Lake Division and Orange branch of the New York, Lake Erie & Western Railroad. The Morris Canal bounds the western edge of the field. The roof of the large steel hangar is painted an orange color.

30.    Orange Mountains—Cross the Orange Mountains over a small round lake or pond. Slightly to the right will be seen the polo field and golf course of Essex Country Club. About 8 miles to the north is Mountain Lake, easily seen after crossing the Orange Mountains.

50.    Morristown, N.J.—About 4 miles north of course. Identified by a group of yellow buildings east of the city. The Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad passes the eastern side of Morristown.

60.    Lake Hopatcong—A large irregular lake 10 miles north of course.

64.    Budd Lake—Large circular body of water 6 miles north of course.

78.    Belvidere, N.J.—On the Delaware River. Twelve miles to the north is the Delaware Water Gap and 11 miles to the south is Easton at the junction of the Lehigh and Delaware Rivers. The Delaware makes a pronounced U-shaped bend just north of Belvidere. A railway joins the two ends of the U.

111.    Lehighton, Pa.—Directly on the course. The Lehigh Valley and Central Railroad of New Jersey, running parallel, pass through Lehighton. The Lehigh River runs between the railroads at this point. Lehighton is approximately halfway between Hazelhurst and Bellefonte. A fair size elliptical race track lies just southwest of town but a larger and better emergency landing field lies about 100 yards west of the race track. The field is very long and lies in a north-south direction.    

114.    Mauch Chunk—Three miles north of Lehighton and on the direct course.

121.    Central Railroad of New Jersey—Two long triangular bodies of water northwest of the railroad followed by eight or nine small artificial lakes or ponds about half a mile apart almost parallel with the course but veering slightly to the south.

148.    Catawissa Mountain Range, which appears to curve in a semi-circle about a large open space of country directly on the course. To the north of the course may be seen the eastern branch of the Susquehanna. Fly parallel to this until Shamokin Creek is picked up. This creek is very black and is paralleled by two railroads. Shamokin Creek empties into the Susquehanna just below Sunbury.

168.    Sunbury, Pa.—At the junction of the two branches of the Susquehanna River. The infield of a race track on a small island at the junction of the two rivers furnishes a good landing field. The river to the south of Sunbury is wider than to the north and is filled with numerous small islands. The two branches to the north have practically no islands. If the river is reached and Sunbury is not in sight look for islands. If there are none, follow the river south to Sunbury. If islands are numerous, follow the river north to Sunbury.

170.    Lewisburg, Pa.—Two miles west of Sunbury and 8 miles north.

174.    After leaving Sunbury the next landmark to pick up is Penns Creek, which empties into the Susquehanna 7 miles south of Sunbury. Flying directly on the course, Penns Creek is reached 6 miles after it joins the Susquehanna 7 miles south of Sunbury.

178.    New Berlin—Identified by covered bridge over Penns Creek.

185.    The Pennsylvania Railroad from Lewisburg is crossed at the point where the range of mountains coming up from the southwest ends. The highway leaves the railroad here and goes up into Woodward Pass, directly on the course. A white fire tower may be seen on the crest of the last mountain to the north on leaving the pass.

202.    The next range of mountains is crossed through the pass at Millheim, a small town. A lone mountain may be seen to the south just across the Pennsylvania tracks.

217.    Bellefonte, Pa.—After crossing another mountain range without a pass Bellafonte will be seen against the Bald Eagle Mountain Range. On top of a mountain, just south of a gap in the Bald Eagle Range at Bellefonte, may be seen a clearing with a few trees scattered in it. This identifies this gap from others in the same range. The mail field lies just east of town and is marked by a large white circle. A white line marks the eastern edge of the field where there is a drop of nearly 100 feet.

Bellefonte to Cleveland, Ohio

0.    Bellefonte—Compass course to Cleveland approximately 310˚. Fly directly toward and over bare spot on mountain top south of gap in Bald Eagle Range. First range of mountains.

3.    Pennsylvania Railroad, following course of Bald Eagle Creek.

17.   New York Central Railroad, following course of Moshannon Creek.

35.   Clearfield, Pa.—On west branch of Susquehanna River. A small race track here serves as an emergency landing field. Two railroads, one from the north and one from the east, enter Clearfield and both go south from here.

55.    C. & M. Junction—One branch of the Buffalo, Rochelle & Pittsburgh from the east forms a junction here with the N. & S. line of the Buffalo, Rochelle & Pittsburgh Railroad. Dubois is 2 miles north of course on the N. & S. line of this railroad.

70.    Brookville—One mile north of course, west of city, is a 2-mile race track which makes an excellent emergency field.

86.    Clarion—One mile north of course. Emergency field marked by white cross and red-brick hangar is here. The Clarion River passes north edge of city. Railroad from the east ends here.

110.    Franklin, Pa.—Seven miles north of course at junction of Allegheny River and French Creek. Cross Allegheny River where there is a pronounced horseshoe bend. This is due south of Franklin.

122.    Sandy Lake—Two miles north of course. Cross the Pennsylvania Railroad at right angles 2 miles south of Sandy Lake.

138.    Shenango—Two miles north of course. Three railroads enter this town from the north. Two continue south and one runs east for 3 miles and then turns southeast.

152.    New York Central Railroad, running north and south. One mile north of course the Erie crosses the New York Central at right angles. Four miles west the Erie should be crossed where it turns southward. Eight miles south of course is Warren, with eight railroads radiating out.

157.    Pennsylvania Railroad, running north and south.

165.    Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, running diagonally northeast-southwest.

206.    Cleveland on Lake Erie—The mail field is in East Cleveland between the two railroads that follow the lake shore. The field is near the edge of the city and near the edge of the freight yards of the New York Central. The field is distinctly marked by long cinder runway. The air mail hangar is in the southwest corner of the field. The Martin factory is in the northwest corner of the field.

Reprinted by permission from Pilots' Directions: The Transcontinental Airway and Its History, edited by William M. Leary, University of Iowa Press, 1990.

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