Really now, what is a Turnpike?
February 23, 2007
Turnpikes and toll roads are some of the jewels that litter the East Coast landscape. Today I found myself compelled to study the etymology of the word Turnpike. I figured there would be an interesting story behind it, and there was.
First I tried pulling the word apart in my mind, but the only pikes I knew of were those ill tempered fish with big teeth and Pike of Pikes Peak. I figured a Turnpike didn’t have anything to do with those, so I assumed it was simply more backwards Yankee New England gibberish and decided to Wiki it (I am a self proclaimed Wikiwhore).
Turns out Turnpike is simply an outmoded term for toll road, the word originates from a long stick (which they called a pike) that was held across the road which was raised or turned aside when the traveler paid the toll.
Modern turnpikes don’t use sticks, and they don’t turn anything. We use traffic gates, and they go up and down. Before EZ-Pass this made sense, but now I think the term turnpike has out lived its usefulness. It’s lingering in our vocabulary today only because somebody lacks the balls to suggest deprecating it.
Maybe I stand alone here on this one, but I think “toll road” is much more easily understood and recognized by a much larger percentage of the population.
I think they should change the name…OR BRING BACK THE STICKS!!!
For more reading on the wonder and majesty of Turnpikes checkout this link…