The Highways of North Carolina
U.S. 421 
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Photo: US 421 TRUCK in Wilmington (Mapmikey)
US 421
U.S. 421  320 miles
The Road: Begins at Fort Fisher (New Hanover County) and ends at the Tennessee State Line near Vilas (Watauga County).
Nationally the route runs from Fort Fisher to Michigan City, IN
Towns and Attractions: New Hanover Co.: Fort Fisher, Carolina Beach, Wilmington  
Brunswick Co.: USS North Carolina Memorial 
Pender Co.: None  
Duplin Co.: None
Sampson Co.: Clinton  
Harnett Co.: Dunn, Buies Creek, Lillington  
Lee Co.: Sanford  
Chatham Co.: Siler City  
Randolph Co.: Liberty  
Guilford Co.: Greensboro  
Forsyth Co.: Kernersville, Winston-Salem, Lewisville  
Yadkin Co.: Yadkinville  
Wilkes Co.: Wilkesboro, North Wilkesboro  
Watauga Co.: Boone  
History: US 421 appeared in 1930 as an addition to NC 60, running only from Boone to Greensboro.
In 1932, US 421 replaced US 321 from Boone to Tennessee and was also extended southeast with NC 60 to Wilmington.

Here is a more detailed look at US 421's history:

New Hanover, Brunswick, Pender, Sampson Counties:
US 421's original Wilmington endpoint was most likely 3rd and Market. 3rd St south of Market was NC 40 and Market east of 3rd was US 17 and NC 20-30. All of these routes plus US 421 and NC 60 headed north on 3rd to the intersection of Nixon and Parsley. Parsley was how US 17-117 and NC 20-30 crossed the NE Cape Fear River. US 421 followed US 117 east on Nixon to McRae St then north out of town.
US 421 followed today's NC 133 except it used Old Bridge Site Rd to cross the NE Cape Fear River. Then US 421 picked up NC 210 over to current US 421. US 421 used its current routing to Clinton except: NC 41-411 and Wildcat Rd through Harrell; Quewiffle Rd through Taylors Bridge
US 421 originally used US 701 Business, Lisbon Ave, and McKay Rd through Clinton. US 421 then followed its current routing to Dunn except: Kitty Fork Rd; Old US 421 near the Sampson-Harnett line.
In late 1934, US 421 was extended south to Fort Fisher, replacing NC 40.
Between 1950-52, US 421 was taken off SR 1340 Old Bridge Site Rd in Castle Hayne.
In 1952, US 421 was given its bypass of Clinton using Southwest Blvd, a bit of current NC 24 and what is now the US 421-701 freeway. The old route through downtown Clinton became US 421-A.
Also about 1952, US 421 was extended south from Fort Fisher to the Fort Fisher Ferry area.

1951 Official
US 421 ending at Fort Fisher
1951 Official
1952 Official
US 421 ending at Fort Fisher Ferry
1952 Official

In 1954, US 421 was rerouted to avoid Castle Hayne and instead used its current routing south to today's US 74/NC 133. US 421 then cut southeast to cross the river with US 17-74-76 onto Parsley and then to 3rd St as it had historically run. The old route to Castle Hayne became NC 210 and US 117 remained in place south to Wilmington.
Between 1954-57, US 421 was removed from Kitty Fork Rd northwest of Clinton, as well as the Old US 421 loop near Harnett County line.
In 1965, US 421 was given its bypass of Harrells leaving behind NC 41-411 and Wildcat Rd. This gave US 421 a few hundred feet in Duplin County for the first time, which is fully signed.
In 1968, US 421 was placed on newly constructed freeway at the south end of the Clinton Bypass, as it runs today, leaving behind bits of NC 24 and US 701, which was not added to the freeway at this time.

1949 Sampson County
US 421 through Clinton
1949 Sampson County
1953 Sampson County
US 421 Bypasses Clinton
1953 Sampson County
1969 Official
US 421 on more freeway
1969 Official

In Sept 1969 (NCDOT), US 421 was placed on its current crossing of the Cape Fear River. 3rd St north of Wooster became unnumbered (though became US 421 Business for a time later).
Between 1969-72, US 421 was removed from SR 1920 Quewiffle Rd through Taylors Bridge.

1962 Sampson County
US 421 through Harrells and Taylors Bridge
1962 Sampson County

1968 Sampson County
US 421 bypasses Harrells
1968 Sampson County

1972 Sampson County
US 421 bypasses Taylors Bridge
1972 Sampson County

In Dec 1984 (NCDOT), US 421 was removed from Point Harbor Rd at the Cape Fear River.

Harnett, Lee, Chatham, Randolph Counties:
Between 1945-49, US 421 was given one-way splits in Dunn - NB used the original routing of Broad St while SB used Cumberland St.
Between 1950-53, US 421 was moved from Greensboro Ave to 2nd Ave north of downtown Siler City, which was given grade separation from US 64.
Between 1954-57, US 421 received its bypass of Buies Creek, leaving behind SR 2054 Marshbanks St and NC 27 (now just Leslie Campbell Ave).

1953 Harnett County
US 421 through Buies Creek
1953 Harnett County
1953 Harnett County
US 421 bypasses Buies Creek
1957 Harnett County

Also between 1954-57, US 421 was removed from SR 2195 Thrift/Murchison Rds in the Gulf area in southeastern Chatham County.
In 1958, US 421 was placed on Cumberland Ave both directions through Dunn, then also was placed on today's E Jackson Blvd bypassing Erwin. The old route became SR 1718 Denim Dr and a little NC 82-217.

1944 Harnett County
US 421 original Dunn route
1944 Harnett County
1949 Harnett County
US 421 onto one-way splits
1949 Harnett County
1972 Harnett County
US 421 returns to two-way routing
1972 Harnett County

In 1962, US 421 was removed from SR 1291 Old US 421 through Luart, Mamers, and Arlington and placed instead on its current routing west of Lillington.

1961 Official
US 421 through Mamers
1961 Official
1964 Official
US 421 avoiding Mamers
1964 Official

In June 1966 (NCDOT), US 421 was removed from a portion of Lee Ave and Main St in southern Sanford and placed on mostly new construction (now Horner Blvd). The Main St portion became an extended NC 78.

1962 Lee County
US 421 using Lee
1962 Lee County
1968 Lee County
US 421 using Horner Blvd
1968 Lee County
1980 Lee County
US 421 removed from NC 42
1980 Lee County

Between 1963-68, US 421 was rerouted in Siler City using Chatham-Fayetteville-2nd instead of Chatham-Beaver-2nd.

1944 Chatham County
US 421 original Siler City route
1944 Chatham County
1953 Chatham County
US 421 moved from Greensboro to 2nd
1953 Chatham County
1968 Chatham County
US 421 straightened in Siler City
1968 Chatham County

In Feb 1969 (NCDOT), US 421 was given a bypass of Bear Creek, Bonlee, and Mt. Vernon Springs, leaving behind SR 1174 Old US 421.
In June 1972 (NCDOT), US 421 was given a bypass of Goldston, leaving behind SR 2333 Ralph Sipe Rd and more SR 1176 Main St.
In Oct 1973 (NCDOT), US 421 was removed from SR 1384 Forestwood Plank Rd plus abandoned routing east of Deep River.
In April 1975 (NCDOT), US 421 was given its bypass of Liberty and Julian. This left behind some NC 62.

1972 Official
US 421 through Liberty/Julian
1972 Official
1977 Official
US 421 bypasses Liberty/Julian
1977 Official

In Oct 1977 (NCDOT), US 421 was put on mostly new construction (plus a bit of NC 87) to avoid Broadway, leaving behind some NC 42 plus SR 1579 Broadway Rd/Main St.
In Jan 1991 (NCDOT), US 421 was given its freeway bypass of Siler City and Staley, leaving behind a bit of S. Chatham Blvd Ext plus more Old US 421.

1964 Official
US 421 through all towns
1964 Official
1970 Official
US 421 bypasses Bear Creek/Bonlee
1970 Official
1973 Official
US 421 bypasses Goldston
1973 Official
1992 Official
US 421 bypasses Siler City
1992 Official

Guilford and Forsyth Counties:

US 421's original south end in 1930 was Walker at Aycock (US 29-70). US 421 followed Walker Ave, then W. Market St through Frienship to Colfax where the route becomes Mountain Rd. US 421 followed Mountain Rd through Kernersville (partly NC 66 now), then Old Greensboro Rd to 5th St through Winston Salem. US 421 turned north on Broad St then west on 7th and West End Blvd to Reynolda Rd and out of town. US 421 cut west on Yadkinville Rd through Pfafftown and into Yadkin County.
In 1932, US 421 was extended through Greensboro with US 29-70 using Aycock St north then Market St east to Edgeworth St south to Washington St east to Elm St south to Asheboro St (now Martin Luther King Jr Blvd) southeast. US 421 then picked up Liberty Rd heading for Randolph County. All of this was part of NC 60.
In 1933, US 421 was removed from Walker Ave in Greensboro to use Market St all the way west from downtown. Walker Ave may have briefly been US 421-A for a time after this.

1932 Texaco
US 421 Greensboro (1930-1932)
1932 Texaco
1933 Gen Draft
US 421 Greensboro (1932-49)
1933 Gen Draft

About 1949, US 421 was rerouted in Greensboro into a wide split routing: NB left Asheboro Rd using S. Benbow Rd north to Market St west into downtown. SB left Market using Greene St south to McGee St east to Elm south to Asheboro Rd as before.
Also in 1949, US 421 was removed from Old Greensboro Rd east of Winston-Salem and moved to New Greensboro Rd (no longer continuous) southewest to 5th St.
About 1954, US 421 was placed on one-way splits in Winston Salem, with EB using 4th St and WB staying on 5th.

1932 Texaco
US 421 initial Winston-Salem routing
1932 Texaco
1954 Official
US 421 on one-way splits
1954 Official

In 1955, US 421 received a bypass around the south of Kernersville, using new construction at what is now Exit 19 of I-40 Business and following this west to Exit 10 and returning to New Greensboro Road. The road through Kernersville remained NC 66.
In 1957, US 421's wide split routing was eliminated. US 421 followed Market St east from downtown Greensboro to O Henry Blvd south to what is now I-40 west briefly to Liberty Rd.

1949 Guilford County
US 421 wide directional splits in Greensboro
1949 Guilford County
1957 Guilford County
US 421 using Market and O Henry
1957 Guilford County

In 1961, US 421 was removed from surface streets in Winston-Salem and moved onto then-I-40 from 5th St westward, then onto its own new freeway west to Yadkin County. 5th St through W-S to Broad became US 158 Business; Broad/7th/West End Blvd/Reynolda Rd became NC 67. Yadkinville Rd west of NC 67 became SR 1525.

1948-49 Official
US 421 initial W-S and Kernersville routing
1948-49 Official
1951 Official
US 421 meets US 158 further west
1951 Official

1957 Official
US 421 bypasses Kernersville
1957 Official
1961 Official
US 421 on freeway through W-S and to Yadkin County
1961 Official

In 1966, US 421 was given one-way splits through central Greensboro: EB used Market St while WB used Gaston and Madison Ave (now Friendly Ave) west to a ramp that connects back to Market.
In March 1972 (NCDOT), US 421 was removed from Liberty Rd from Julian north to just short of I-85 (now I-40). This also placed US 421 on a larger NC 62 duplex.
In Jan 1988 (NCDOT), US 421 was removed from downtown Greensboro by using Wendover Ave from Market St north and east around to US 29 O Henry Blvd.

1966 Official
US 421 on one-way splits in Greensboro
1966 Official
1990-91 Official
US 421 moved to Wendover
1990-91 Official

In May 1996 (NCDOT), US 421 was placed on today's I-40 around the south of Greensboro west, and on I-40 Business bypassing Colfax and Friendship
In Nov 2009 (NCDOT), US 421 was rerouted away from Greensboro entirely by being added to the new I-85 westward, then on I-73 northwest back around to I-40. Liberty Rd between new and old I-85 became SR 3762.

1980 Official
US 421 through Friendship and Colfax
1980 Official
1997 Official
US 421 placed onto I-40
1997 Official
2011 Official
US 421 moved onto new I-85
2011 Official

Yadkin, Wilkes, and Watauga Counties:

US 421's north end originally was at Hardin St at King St in Boone. US 421 headed east on King.
In 1932, US 421 was extended west from Boone to Tennessee at Zionville, replacing what had been US 321 since 1930.
Between 1931-36, US 421 was removed from Archie Carroll Rd east of Boone.
Between 1939-44, US 421 was removed from SR 1314 Bristol Rd in Boone; SR 1104 Oak Grove Rd/Old Bristol Rd west of Boone; SR 1110 Greer Ln
Between 1954-57, US 421 was removed from SR 2436 Old US 421 and SR 2401 Old US 421 in eastern Wilkes County.
About 1957, US 421 was rerouted at Yadkinville to head south with US 601 then west into Wilkes County as newly constructed highway (Rocky Branch Rd). The old road became SR 1314 Old US 421.
Also in 1957, US 421 was removed from North Wilkesboro and Millers Creek by following NC 268 west to Curtis Bridge Rd out to current US 421. The old route remained NC 18-268 to North Wilkesboro; NC 16 to Millers Creek; SR 1304 west back out to US 421. Today this is Wilkesboro Blvd; 10th St; D St; Old Boone Trail
Oddly, official maps always showed US 421 following NC 115 into N. Wilkesboro while county atlases 1930-53 clearly showed US 421 going via Wilkesboro first.
In 1961, US 421 was placed on new construction from the Yadkin River to US 601, leaving behind a bit of US 601 plus SR 1605 Yadkin Rd.

1956 Official
US 421 through Yadkin County
1956 Official
1958 Official
US 421 rebuilt west of US 601
1958 Official
1961 Official
US 421 rebuilt east of US 601
1961 Official

Also in 1961, US 421 was placed on new construction from the Sugar Grove area to the state line at Zionville, leaving behind a bit of US 321 and SR 1233 through Amantha and Mabel.

1931 Official
US 321 northwest of Boone
1931 Official
1933 Official
US 421 replaces US 321
1933 Official
1963 Official
US 421 removed from Sugar Grove and Amantha
1963 Official

In Nov 1969 (NCDOT), US 421 was placed on its freeway bypass of Wilkesboro and on new freeway east to Antioch. This left behind SR 2355 Old US 421; US 421 Business; SR 2510 Main St to Wilkesboro; NC 268; SR 1185 Curtis Bridge Rd.

1956 Official
US 421 through N. Wilkesboro and Millers Cr
1956 Official
1958 Official
US 421 bypasses N. Wilkesboro and Millers Cr
1958 Official
1970 Official
US 421 bypasses Wilkesboro
1970 Official

Between 1973-80, US 421 was removed from the SR 1377 and SR 1389 loops in westernmost Wilkes County.
In July 1997 (NCDOT), US 221-421 was removed from E. King St just east of NC 194 Boone.
In Sept 2003 (NCDOT), US 421 was placed on newly constructed freeway between I-77 and US 601, leaving behind Rocky Branch Rd.
Also in Sept 2003, US 421 was put on new freeway in eastern Wilkes County from Exit 270 to Exit 276 near Antioch. This left behind Yadkin-Willkes Hwy.
In Dec 2005 (NCDOT), US 421 was placed on new freeway from I-77 west to Exit 270, leaving behind Lydall Westex Rd and Yadkin-Wilkes Hwy.
Also in Dec 2005 (NCDOT), US 221-421 was placed on new construction from the S. New River east to Deep Gap, leaving behind a lengthy "Old US 421".

Comments: US 421 is a major thoroughfare through much of its run, being 4-lane expressway or freeway for much of its life from Boone to Sanford. In fact, only a handful of miles of US 421 are on its original alignment from Tennessee to Dunn.
Due to I-40, US 421 is no longer a heavily used route down to Wilmington.
Since March 2009 (NCDOT), there has been a US 421 TRUCK in Wilmington, running along Front St from the Cape Fear River Bridge south to 3rd St.


Last Update: 11 October 2013

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