As roads go, Sixty-Five Road is a short one. On Olympia’s far Westside, it covers the gap between 20th Avenue NW and 14th Avenue NW. If you’ve ever been out to Hansen Elementary or Marshall Middle, that’s the road you’ve been on. It also serves as the western boarder to the Goldcrest Neighborhood and the eastern line of the Homeport Apartments.
For a boring name, it is also a very unique name. As a writer in the Olympian (who was exploring interesting place names) quipped in the 1980s: “Where, one wonders, are the other 64 roads?” Where, indeed.
That question leads us to the first clue in the origin of the name: it was likely a left-over from a defunct road classification system. For example, for 4th Avenue in Olympia, even if it wasn’t there, we’d assume the next most southern street is 5th. And, even though State Avenue is the one immediately north, we can safely assume at one point it was called 3rd. And, six blocks south of 4th is 10th. And, so on.
But, for Sixty-Five Road, there are no other north-to-south running roads with similar names.
But, let’s start at the beginning of the road’s history.
In Resolution 2833, the Thurston County Commission officially named in August 1961:
I find a couple of interesting things about this:
- It is just “Sixty-Five Road,” not “the Sixty-Five Road.” And, even though its presentation has changed over the year to include the number swapped (Road Sixty-Five) or turned into numerals and swapped (Road 65), it started out as written out.
- Currently, the southern end of Sixty-Five Road is 14th, but if you go east far enough, it becomes Walnut. In those days, Walnut was the name of the road all the way to that part of town.
So, here is our first clue about an archaic road numbering system. This is a legal ad from 1970:
Since we know Walnut was the name of 14th when Sixty-Five road was named, we can assume “County Road No. 65” was also another name it was called. I’m assuming “County Road No. 65” was the official engineers’ name for the road, which was shortened in common use to “Sixty-Five Road” by the time it was officially named.
One of my favorite examples of this change in construction over time was the original name for Boulevard Road on Olympia’s Eastside, which was “Grand Boulevard.”
So, what we would need to find would be another reference to a “County Road No. xx” in the decades before the 1960s.
Here is what I found in 1937:
County Road No. 298 was definitely a thing that existed in Thurston County. I’m not sure exactly where, but there was at one point a numbering system for county roads with that construction.
There is an additional reference I found from 1912 with the construction “county highway No. x”
So there you go, where are all the other 64 or 297 roads indeed?