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Welcome . . .
. . . to a group of about 300 chronic road trippers who share (approximately) the same goal: to visit, at least once in life, each and every county in the United States. "Extra Milers," as we are called, keep track of our progress by coloring in counties on state maps. Members pass on their travel tips and experiences in our quarterly newsletter, The Extra Miler. We share progress reports, photo albums, and stories of the road at our annual meeting, which is held in a different city each summer.
Since the Vikings first sailed into the Atlantic, adventuresome souls have been eager to experience the thrill of new sights, exotic flavors, and sheer adventure. Unfortunately for most individuals, travel opportunities are limited to dreaming about foreign lands, a few television specials and thumbing through dog-eared atlases and National Geographic magazines. Nevertheless, every journey begins with the first step. If you love geography and road maps and yearn to travel and explore, you'll find a home in the Extra Miler Club.
EMC was founded in 1973 by Ed Dietz and Roy Carson. Ed had begun keeping a record of the various counties that he visited in 1933. As a budget analyst for the IRS, he was posted in Utah, Wyoming and Alaska. Vacation trips to his native Omaha and his wife's Alabama relatives provided many opportunities to pick up additional counties.
Meanwhile, Roy Carson obtained his first driver's license in upstate New York in 1949. While driving home from the testing station, he crossed from Schoharie County into Schenectady County, and his passenger remarked, "we just drove through two counties--how long will it take you to drive through the remaining sixty counties of New York?" This challenge, coupled with Roy's spirit of adventure, began his quest. As a native of Nevada who was raised in South Dakota and New York, Carson had already visited 36 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, and Mexico. So, he vowed to drive a motor vehicle through each and every county in the United States at least once in his life.
Ed and Roy met in 1958 through another common interest: collecting old license plates. Soon they met Tony Burdett (again through the license plate hobby) of Utah, who would become the third member of the (still to be formed) "club." In the summer of 1973, Roy and Ed were comparing maps when they decided to form an "official" organization, in the hopes of meeting others who shared this unique goal. Thus, the Extra Miler Club was born.
As of this writing, only a handful of EMC members have actually completed all 3,000-plus jurisdictions. The final total can vary due to two major factors--first, what each member considers to be a "legitimate" jurisdiction, and second, the various geopolitical changes that have been made through the years. Some counties have been abolished, new ones have been created, and then there are other political subdivisions such as Alaska's boroughs, Virginia's independent cities, and Louisiana's parishes. A grand total may range from 3,127 to 3,145.
Ed Dietz completed his odyssey in 1980, having spent 47 years on the project. In 1983, however, Arizona's Yuma County split in two, creating La Paz County. Since Ed had never visited the part of the state that had become the new county, he had to go back to visit it. Arthur Palmer had finished his project before joining EMC, but his interest is still keen, in the event that a new county is created. Roy Carson needed 36 years, three months, and seventeen days to drive to every county, and considers the short-lived Bullfrog County, Nevada to be his 3,127th jurisdiction.
Although most members enjoy collecting counties and coloring in their maps, members often select their own personal travel goals as well. Jeff Minard of California hopes to visit the highest and lowest points of elevation in each state. Scott Broady, also of California, is busily visiting all the lighthouses he can find. Bill and Barbara Christian have visited 49 states and nine Canadian provinces with their four children, but they went on to Hawaii on their own and have since added many foreign countries such as China, Western Samoa, Tahiti, and most of Europe. Bob LaBrash of Phoenix plans to visit all of the counties in his 1929 Ford Model A. Bill and Susan Littlefield share our most romantic goal--they only count counties that they visit together. A few members are are working on Canadian counties as well.
Whatever personal travel goals you may wish to achieve, you will find a friendly welcome to the Extra Miler Club. As we like to say, "The shortest distance between two points is no fun!"
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