The Army Motors Across America - The Tale of the First Transcontinental Motor Convoy (a road trip)

Dear Henry,

I think I have mentioned that I want to do a "Great American Road-Trip" before, and still, despite the logistical challenges, plan to take one.

While I was thinking about (pre-planning?) my road trip, I wondered where the idea of a cross-American road trip originally came from.

As it turns out, one of the first American road trips was made in 1919 by the U.S. Army.

It began as a post-WWI project for the military - imagine, if you will, a bunch of soldiers, fresh from Europe and with nothing to do. So the army decided that conquering the roads of America was the perfect project.

 The First Transcontinental Motor Convoy consisted of about 100 vehicles (including a tank!) that left the White House on July 7, 1919, and headed toward the Presidio in San Fransico, California.

The convoy made it to the outskirts of D.C. before suffering the first of its many mechanical issues.

On a lark, a young Lieutenant Colonel named Dwight D. Eisenhower decided to join the convoy in Maryland.

The convoy crawled along the (primarily) unpaved roads, with numerous slide-offs and breakdowns. Finally, in Wyoming, chaos erupted. The convoy was being led to believe by Lieutenant Colonel Dwight D. Eisenhower that there were wild "Indians" in the area. It was also tricked by the same  Lieutenant  Colonel (and his friends) with "war cries" into believing they were being attacked. The soldiers immediately engaged and fired shots at said wild "Indians." Lieutenant t Colonel Dwight D. Eisenhower was then forced to quickly chase down the messenger,  proceeding to the nearest telegraph office to report the attack.

The convoy averaged six miles an hour and arrived in San Francisco on September 6, 1919, after causing 230 road accidents and the destruction of 88 bridges.

Oddly enough, one of the things that President Dwight D. Eisenhower became known for was his creation of the Interstate Highway System. I wonder where he got the idea.

xoxo a.d. elliott