Old 04-17-06, 10:00 PM
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Back in 1916 during WWI, a young 2nd-lieutenant in the Army tried to gain support for his new device that was going to change the face of warfare. It was the automobile. He was on a demonstration trip from the east to west coast in a caravan of Packard trucks to prove the merits of the new contraptions. Of course, roads back then were for horses and buggies and there was great resistance to the new horseless-carriages that was starting to appear at the time. Look up the history of DeDion, Rolls Royce, Waterhouse, Packard for the types of advances and innovations that was necessary for the adoption of the automobile by the general public.

Anyway, you can imagine the kinds of difficulties faced by Eisenhower on his epic voyage cross-country. Horses have no trouble navigating rough terrain, but the new machines were not quites as adept. Think about narrow wooden wheels with solid-rubber tires using primitive stagecoach suspensions on rocky terrain... Add in mud, narrow mountain trails and you betcha Eisenhower almost swore off his new hobby. He ended up in San Diego or somewhere around there. The Ridge Route across the top of the mountains is still a favorite historical trip a lot of classic-car buffs still take on a pilgrimage each year as it was the first and only road through the mountains.

He eventually advanced to ultimate position of 5-star General and Supreme Allied Comamander. Needless to say, 40-years later when Eisenhower became President, he campaigned endlessly for the National Highway system.

Some info:
The Man Who Changed America, Part II, interesting contrasts with the Soviets
Fighting Traffic: U.S. Transportation Policy and Urban Congestion, 1955-1970, compare with British solutions
Have car, will commute
The Genie in the Bottle

Also research in the ensuing years, the battle the between the automobile manufacturers vs. the railroad industry and their lobbying and influence with governmental regulations...
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