A conversation with Tom Lewis about the early history of the national highway system. Lewis, a professor at Skidmore College, is the author of Divided Highways.
In our discussion (16 minutes), Lewis talks about one of the most important, yet little known, figures in the history of transportation in America: Thomas Harold MacDonald -- also known as "The Chief." We also discuss some of the key players in the development of the national road system, including the League of American Wheelmen and the Highway Education Board. Lewis will even tell you how turn of the century courtship practices factored into the development of roadways!
- to listen to the conversation [press blue arrow to play; click link to download]
- access this conversation on our podcast page
Note from Wayne Senville: the audio was excerpted from a longer phone conversation I had with Tom Lewis on April 20, 2007. Those interested in highways & their impact on our nation's development will find Lewis' book informative and enjoyable to read.
Immediately below: two photos of Thomas MacDonald of the Federal Bureau of Public Roads. The illustration, Mud at the State Line, is from a 1939 publication of the Public Roads Administration called Highways of History. The publication visually portrayed the need for -- and development of -- the national highway system.
As Tom Lewis notes, advocates for a national system pointed to the need for continuous inter-state travel, and the obstacles often faced at state lines, a point plainly made in Mud at the State Line.