Kansas celebrates 50 years of Interstates


1919 Transcontinental Journey to be Reenacted

One of the main activities planned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Interstate system is the reenactment of the first Transcontinental Motor Convoy of 1919.

Lt. Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower participated in this expedition, which consisted of 81 motorized Army vehicles and about 300 people. The convoy set a world record pace for the time, traveling a total distance of 3,251 miles from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco, in 62 days. Its average speed was 6 mph and the average distance per day was a little more than 58 miles.

After participating in the convoy, and after seeing the autobahns of Germany during World War II, one of President Eisenhower's top priorities was the building of an Interstate highway system in the United States. His dream became a reality when he signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act on June 29, 1956.

The reenactment of this historic journey will take place from June 15 to June 29, 2006. This time, though, the convoy will travel from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. The original trip did not pass through Kansas. However, a part of the reenactment will swing through Kansas from June 21-23. Activities are being planned at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene and also in Topeka. Details of these events will be highlighted here once they are finalized.