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Ike's Road Trip- Available October 2024

Ike's Road Trip- Available October 2024

How Eisenhower's 1919 Convoy Paved the Way for the Roads We Travel

by Brian C. Black

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Product Details

ISBN: 978-1-56792-715-3
Pages: 192
Size: 5.5" x 8.25"
Published: October 2024
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All roads begin somewhere and today’s U. S. highway system began with an unforgettable, exploratory, cross-country ride, led by a 28-year-old Army lieutenant colonel, Dwight Eisenhower. This is the story of his coast-to-coast journey and how the dream of connecting America with roads began.

Before he led the liberation of Europe, before he became our nation’s 34th President, Dwight D. Eisenhower’s made a road trip in 1919 from Washington D.C. to California. The expedition proved to be a crucial chapter in the history of American culture as it laid the groundwork to make automobile travel the fastest and easiest way to move around the country, also setting in motion the nation’s future love affair with cheap crude. The 1919 Transcontinental Motor Convoy of eighty-one trucks and other military vehicles traveled more than 3,00 precarious miles along the most famous road of the day, the Lincoln Highway, which ran between New York City and San Francisco. World War I had illustrated the importance of being able to move large amounts of troops and equipment quickly over long distances, and Eisenhower’s mission on the road trip was to evaluate whether the country’s emerging network of paved roadways could handle such a task. It was an experience Eisenhower would never forget.

“The old convoy had started me thinking about good, two-lane highways,” he later wrote. “This was one of the things that I felt deeply about, and I made a personal and absolute decision to see that the nation would benefit by it.” Decades later, as president, he drew on that experience to push through the Interstate Highway Act of 1956.

Ike’s Road Trip adds an important chapter to the story of the midwestern president who is often seen as “America’s grandfather.” Eisenhower will also be seen as a modern visionary during a pivotal moment: his persistent trust in cheap petroleum proved to be a blueprint for modern America as he helped facilitate the most significant energy transition of the twentieth century. Today, we are experiencing perhaps the most important energy transition since Eisenhower’s day—from petroleum to renewables—and that change will require minds as equally visionary as his.

Author: Brian C. Black

Brian C. Black is Distinguished Professor of History and Environmental Studies at Penn State Altoona, where he currently serves as Head of Arts and Humanities. Recognized as a global expert on petroleum history, his research emphasis is on the landscape and environmental history of North America, particularly in relation to the application and use of energy and technology. He is the author of several books, including To Have and Have Not: Energy in World History, Crude Reality, and the award-winning Petrolia. His work has appeared in USA Today, the New York Times, and the Journal of American History. He divides time between central Pennsylvania and Cape Cod and edits the “Energy and Society” book series with West Virginia University Press.