NASHVILLE, Tenn. — This June, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and Bridgestone Firestone will retrace the historic 3,230 mile journey from Washington D.C. to San Francisco made by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1919 a journey which would eventually pave the way for the U.S. Interstate System.
Most Americans know Eisenhower made the Interstate system a reality, but some may not know that Harvey Firestone and his soon-to-be famous pneumatic tires played an important role.
On July 7, 1919, lieutenant colonel Dwight D. Eisenhower took a coast-to-coast trip to learn whether troops and supplies could successfully cross America by truck.
One week later, Eisenhower reached Columbiana, Ohio, where Harvey Firestone invited Ike and his men to enjoy a fried chicken dinner at Firestone’s farm. As the convoy set out the following day, Firestone added two of his own trucks to the group.
Firestone had his innovative pneumatic tires, Eisenhower mostly solid rubber. The convoy reached San Francisco 55 days later, achieving an average speed of six miles per hour.
By then, Eisenhower was sold on Firestone’s pneumatic tires, and on Firestone’s idea for an interstate highway system.
A year before the historic convoy, Firestone created the “Ship by Truck” movement, encouraging manufacturers to move their products to markets by truck. In 1956, Eisenhower, then president, signed the bill creating America’s modern interstate system.
AASHTO plans to begin the journey in San Francisco on June 15 with stops to celebrate along the way. The convoy, including two Firestone tractor-trailers, will roll into Washington D.C. June 29.
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