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Photo: An improved US 321 heading for Blowing Rock at NC 268 (Mapmikey)
|U.S. 321 107 miles|
|The Road:||Begins at the South Carolina below Gastonia (Gaston County) and ends at the Tennessee line near Sugar Grove (Watauga County).||Towns and Attractions:||Gaston Co.: Gastonia
Lincoln Co.: Lincolnton, Boger City
Catawba Co.: Maiden, Newton, Conover, Hickory
Burke Co.: None
Caldwell Co.: Granite Falls, Hudson, Lenoir
Watauga Co.: Blowing Rock, Boone
Avery Co.: Pisgah Nat'l Forest
US 321 appeared in 1930 as an addition to NC 16 from the South Carolina line below Gastonia to Hickory, then attached to NC 17 from there to Boone, then attached to NC 60 northwest to the Tennessee line heading for Bristol.
In 1932, US 321 north was truncated to US 421/NC 60 Boone. US 321 northwest to Tennesee became part of an extended US 421 (North of Sugar Grove this was on "Old US 421").
In late 1934, NC 16 and NC 17 were removed from US 321.
Between 1931-36, US 321 was removed from SR 2412/2413 Old York Rd in South Gastonia.
Between 1937-38, US 321 was rerouted in Gastonia. Initially it used York Rd north to 2nd St west to Chester north to Airline east to Marietta St north. Now it used Chester St directly instead of York-2nd.
In 1941, US 321 was given its bypass of Patterson, leaving behind an extended NC 268 and today's SR 1360 Yadkin River Rd.
In 1947 or 1948, US 321 was placed on current US 70 west from Conover and NC 127 north to Hickory, leaving behind a little NC 16 (now 16 Business) plus US 70-A (now 1st St and Highland Ave).
In 1948, US 321 was placed on the original Lenoir Bypass which was opened in 1941 as US 321-A.
Between 1945-49, US 321 was removed from SR 1371 Waterfall Rd north of Patterson.
About 1949, US 321 was given a western bypass of Newton, leaving behind College Ave, D St and Main St. D and Main Sts remained part of NC 16 (now 16 Business).
Between 1949-53, US 321 was removed from SR 1542 Old Blowing Rock/Jordan Cook Rds and SR 1545 Meadowview Dr. south of Boone.
In 1953, US 321 was removed from Marietta St and Old Dallas Rd and instead remained on Chester St due north to connect to US 321 west of Dallas. This left behind NC 275 through Dallas.
In 1954, US 321 was removed from central Hickory by remaining with US 70 further west to the current US 321 routing. The old route became NC 127 Center St and secondary 3rd Ave.
Also in 1954, US 321 was given its bypass of Blowing Rock. It appears the west half of the old route was not primary for a time but is now US 321 Business. The west half remained part of US 221.
In 1956, US 321 was given an eastern bypass of Lincolnton, leaving behind US 321-A (now SR 1405/1406 Aspen St).
Between 1954-57, US 321 was removed from SR 1572 Old US 321/Roaring River Rd north of the Blue Ridge Pkwy.
In 1957, US 321 was given its bypass of Hudson and Granite Falls. McLean Rd. (the original south end of the Lenoir bypass) became SR 1180 (now it is the north end of US 321-A. The rest of the old route became an extended US 321-A.
In 1961, US 321 was extended west from Boone to Sugar Grove with US 421, then replaced NC 603 west to the Tennessee Line.
In 1989 or 1990, US 321 was placed on its freeway from Gastonia past Dallas and High Shoals leaving behind secondary routing on Dallas-High Shoals Hwy and Lincoln St (now US 321 Business).
In 1995, US 321 was placed on more new freeway from High Shoals and bypassing the original Lincolnton bypass, leaving behind NC 155 (now US 321 Business).
In June 1999 (NCDOT), US 321 replaced SRs 1844/2009 on existing freeway north of Lincolnton, then continued on new freeway to NC 127, then replaced long-existing SR 2913 freeway across I-40 to meet back up with US 321 Hickory. The old route through Maiden, Newton, and Conover back to Hickory became US 321 Business.
US 321 is now a major thoroughfare from Gastonia to Boone. Technically it is not a freeway at I-85, with stoplights at the ramps.
I don't understand why US 321 was initially sent to Bristol, Virginia then two years later retracted for US 421 instead. What did that accomplish?
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