Local Man Discovers Elusive "Paducah Shortcut"

Fake News written by Martha Throebeck on Tuesday, July 19, 2005

from the too-good-to-be-true dept.

In what could be one of the greatest achievements ever in the field of Midwestern geography, Cape Girardeau resident Elmer Ehrhedd claims that he has discovered the elusive "Paducah Shortcut" between Cape Girardeau and Paducah, Kentucky. The passage, long rumored but never seen, has stumped generations of Southeast Missourians.

But last weekend Ehrhedd was able to reach Paducah from Cape in only 39 minutes while driving the speed limit, potentially setting a record that could usher in a new era of commerce, tourism, and prosperity for both cities.

Cartographers, highway engineers, and community leaders, however, have expressed skepticism at the claim.

"This is simply impossible," said a mapmaker at Nally McRand. "There's only one good east-west road through extreme Southern Illinois, and that involves taking a detour through Anna-Jonesboro. Whatever this guy is smoking, it must be illegal."

An engineer with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet echoed a similar opinion. "This is a joke, right? We all know that the roads in Illinois suck. And I say that honestly, not because I work for Kentucky and we have a perfect highway system down here. Frankly, the only way to travel between Cape and Paducah in 39 minutes is by helicopter -- or spaceship."

Fifteen years ago, another Cape resident, Camelia Maxon, made headlines when she accidentally stumbled across the fact that Highway 286 is several miles shorter than US 60 between Wickliffe and Paducah and cuts at least 10 minutes from the journey. However, the discovery was tempered by a serious obstacle: that route still involves going all the way through Cairo. And Wickliffe stinks... literally.

"We've known all along that we desperately need a route that bypasses Cairo and Wickliffe, while avoiding the huge time-wasting jog through Anna," Ehrhedd said. "And then, through months of exploration and research, I finally unlocked the holy grail of Midwest geography. By taking the backroads across Pulaski and Massac Counties -- without getting lost -- it's possible to avoid both problems while reaching Paducah in record time."

Well, maybe. Despite the best efforts by The Cape Rock's research staff, we have been unable to duplicate Ehrhedd's sucessfully journey.

We tried taking the Grapevine Trail. We tried taking Highway 169 through Karnak. We tried following the Ohio River Scenic Byway (conclusion: it's not that scenic). We tried following various routes through Mounds and New Grand Chain and Round Knob and Joppa. We tried unsuccessfully to find a damn onramp for I-24. But we never did find the fabled Paducah Shortcut. After several attempts, our best time to reach Paducah was never less than 90 minutes.

Ehrhedd, however, insists that his shortcut is the real deal and that his odometer, speedometer, and wristwatch are all accurate. But his complicated driving directions fill two pages and involve at least 17 turns and 12 different backroads, which, in typical Illinois fashion, are only marked about 33% of the time.

"Once people get a grasp on the Paducah Shortcut, the cities of Cape and Paducah will be forever altered for the better," Ehrhedd boasted. "Now, if only we can find a good way to get from Cape to Scott City..."