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Old NORTH End (Late 1980-August 2003): Stop sign, IA 17, Polk/Dallas county line

Facing west, but heading north, on 415 / Facing south on 17 / At the intersection

Photos by Neil Bratney (415 shields were removed in August 2003)

The arrow under the 415 should just be a left arrow. The streets are based on Des Moines' street numbering system, with the streets working down to the confluence of the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers at Sec Taylor Stadium. The avenues work down to that spot theoretically, too, but peter out around 44th Avenue as east-west streets are named and not numbered in Des Moines.

(In a strange contradiction, north-south 2nd, 5th, and 6th are marked as avenues, while ALL the rest of them are streets. The exit sign on I-235 in downtown says "3rd St./5th Ave", and indeed near 415's south end the BGS on I-35/80 says "2nd Ave". I honestly have no idea why these three go against the grain, so to speak.)

Facing west, but heading north, on 415

Facing west, but heading north, on 415

Photo by Neil Bratney

The Dragoon Trail runs along 415, and leaves 17 north of Madrid to follow some gravel roads.

Facing north on 17

Usually state parks are on special state park poles or at least in brown (see photo facing NE in Polk City, below). Under the left side of the sign is a 17 shield still in a bracket with a blank right side.

Old NORTH End (June 13, 1959-late 1980): 4-way stop, 3rd St., Polk City, Polk County

Either before or when 415 was extended north to meet IA 17, a new alignment was created coming into Polk City. I believe the topographic map below is from 1972. As you can see from the map and the 2002 aerial photo below it, the route into town was abandoned when a new segment was built. A dam created an additional arm of Saylorville Lake. More changes in alignment are shown at the bottom of this page.

Topo map/photo from USDA/NRCS via

Traveling southeast from Polk City, the road is completely blocked off at the entrance to the sewage disposal ponds (which parallels the old road for a while). Driving along present 415, you can kind of see pieces of concrete and asphalt littering the far side of the lake, leaving aerial photos as the only way to view this road. The entire area is in a wildlife refuge.

Facing northwest, but heading north, on 415

The stopped car is at the end of 415.

Facing northeast, but heading north, on 415

Photo by Jason Hancock

Until discovery of the old alignment I figured 415 ended here, at the turn, facing this direction. Instead, 415 came in from the right.

Facing southeast, but heading south, on 415

Photo by Jason Hancock

The first alignment of 415 began as you crossed the intersection. Today, that alignment is a narrower road that ends outside of town (see above).

NORTH End: Interchange, IA 141, Polk County

Facing southwest, but heading north(!) on 415

Photo by Jason Hancock

In 2003, Polk County agreed to take over large chunks of state highways. Included in the deal were all of IA 931 and 945 (which the DOT had taken over in 1980), IA 316 north of Runnells, and 415 north of a point south of Polk City. But instead of 415 coming to an abrupt end, it was rerouted to cross the other "Mile-Long Bridge" in Iowa (see also IA 14 over Lake Red Rock), and take a new road to end at a new interchange with IA 141 southeast of IA 17. Why the funny font? Most likely, these signs were put up by Polk County because the county built the road and turned it over to the state afterward.

Shields in background of above picture

Photo by Jason Hancock

The arrows below the shields are most likely also Polk County's. Note that the "141" is in Series D, a font usually reserved for 1-digit and sometimes 2-digit shields, just because it can fit, I guess.

Facing southwest, but heading north(!) on 415

Photo by Jason Hancock

Facing north, but heading west, on 141

Photo by Jason Hancock

Boy, the directions around here sure are screwed up, aren't they? :-)

Facing southeast, but heading east, on 141

As with the now-decommissioned IA 386, the new 415's north end is farther south (in this case, about three miles farther south) than its northernmost point. In August 2003, this was the only indication of 415 along the new alignment.

SOUTH End: Stoplight, US 6/Euclid Ave., Des Moines, Polk County

Facing south on 415

Facing east on 6

Again, why is it 2nd Avenue when the others are streets?

Facing (north)east

You can see the first northbound sign on the pole under the stoplight.

Facing west on 6

The green sign is for the truck permit station. You could turn right to get to I-35/80, so the straight arrow is a bit odd.

Highway 415 is the highest-numbered non-spur highway, and as of July 1, 2003 it is the only signed 4xx route. Only 12 other active routes are higher than 200. As such, I seriously think at least 415 should be renumbered to a 2-digit, possibly 46, a number with a history in the Des Moines area. In conjunction with this, the new designation should incorporate present IA 160, making a northern "beltway" between IA 141 and I-35, and giving the 2nd Avenue portion of 415 a different number entirely, maybe 87 (another number with a history in Polk County).

Point of interest:

Because of realignments in the Polk City area and west of Ankeny, the ONLY portions of 415 used today that were part of the original 1959 route are the section between the south end and the former Y intersection with IA 160, and about 1.2 miles between Polk City and Ankeny, directly west of Ankeny's 1st Street.

Pictures by Neil Bratney: First-third and fifth, 3/26/02

Pictures by Jason Hancock: Eighth and ninth, February 2003; tenth-thirteenth, 9/1/03

Pictures by me: Fourth and seventh, 5/17/05; sixth, 1/18/04; 14th, 8/18/03; 15th, 7/23/08; 16th-18th, 11/1/02

Page created 1/24/02; last updated 9/14/08

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