Tag Archives: IAMA Indiana-Pacific Tour

What was happening in Indianapolis on July 1, 1913?

At 2 pm, on July 1, 1913, more 70 people and 20 Indiana-built cars and trucks gathered around the south side of University Park in Indianapolis for the departure of the Indiana Automobile Manufacturers’ Association Indiana-Pacific Tour. At the time, the IAMA Tour was one of the largest transcontinental tours attempted in the United States.

Haynes & Gilbreath
Elwood Haynes, president of Haynes Automobile Company conversing with W. S. Gilbreath, secretary of the Hoosier Motor Club

The 1913 IAMA Tour was designed to promote Indiana-built automobiles to the larger market outside of the Midwest and to generate interest for building better roads. The reawakening Good Roads Movement members felt that the auto industry would only grow when travel by road was made easier. But, investment in roads would only occur when people showed more interest in the automobile industry. IAMA members envisioned a way to help make that happen – a cross country tour to build the country’s interest in automobiles, particularly Indiana’s products, and better roads.

When the IAMA Tour left Indianapolis on July 1, 1913, the Hoosier tourists experienced numerous thunderstorms, crossing the Rocky Mountains and the Western deserts in primitive automobiles that are hard to imagine 100 years later. The tour took 34 days to cover the 3,600 miles and allow for propaganda work and sociability. They passed through Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California. Nearly every vehicle accomplished this trek and arrived in Los Angeles after never being more than 24 hours behind schedule.

Marmon No 22
The Lincoln Highway sponsored Marmon was one of the tour participants that made it to California. Left to Right: Capt. Robert Tyndall, Carl G. Fisher, Charles A. Bookwalter, and Heine Scholler.

The 1913 IAMA Indiana-Pacific Tour served as a model of promoting Indiana-built automobiles and generating interest for building roads, like the proposed Ocean-to-Ocean Rock Highway, later to be known as the Lincoln Highway. This road was the impetus to the start of our Federal Highway System.

Previously all roads were developed and maintained by local governments. The first transcontinental highway, the Lincoln Highway, showed the federal government the opportunities brought by linking good roads from coast to coast. We were to arise from the mud onto paved roadways.

Henderson No. 4
Ray Harroun in the Henderson Motor Car entry at California State Capitol in Sacramento

Today we can dash across interstates, from city to city, state to state. This modern-day convenience owes a great deal of thanks to the 1913 IAMA Indiana-Pacific Tour.

For more information on our automotive heritage follow this link.

Finding Your Way – Part Two

As I mentioned in a previous article, finding your way along America’s highways was not always as easy as it is today. One auto pioneer who made our journeys easier was Anton L. Westgard.

Today, his contributions are recognized as little more than a footnote in early automotive history, but he deserves more. We discovered him while working on our book Hoosier Tour: A 1913 Indiana to Pacific Tour. He became a celebrity for his trailblazing efforts by the time his book Tales of a Pathfinder was published in 1920.

Previous to 1913, A.L. Westgard established a touring record for automobilists by crossing the continent three times in 147 days in a stock automobile while collecting data for a series of strip maps published by the American Automobile Association.

A.L. Westgard 1913
A.L. Westgard 1913

On June 2, 1913, Westgard, as the new vice president of the National Highways Association, left New York City on a tour of 17,000 miles of American roads. The majority of his travels were over terrain that could hardly be called roads. The routes across the Rockies, Sierras, and deserts were over country in which trails were recently designated. The purpose of the trip was to compile first-hand data by a competent civil engineer, geologist, and road expert for a report of the NHA. The association hoped to use the data to convince the federal government to build roads.

Westgard was the recognized expert in preparation of road data. Since 1910, while he was engaged in his work with the American Automobile Association, he opened up and logged the Santa Fe Trail. He also laid out routes for the Glidden and other tours, as well as a series of three transcontinental trails. These were known as the “Trail to the Sunset,” “Midland Trail,” and the “Overland Trail.” The Overland Trail was the northern-most trail to the northwest.

In 1913, after leaving the IAMA Indiana-Pacific Tour in San Francisco in late July, Mr. Westgard and his Premier automobile were shipped to Seattle in preparation for additional trailblazing. He then retraced some of his earlier routes from Seattle through Portland to San Francisco and Los Angeles. In late October, he left on his return trip to New York via San Diego, Phoenix, El Paso, Dallas, Little Rock, Memphis, and Nashville.

A.L. Westgard encounters a covered wagon</br>
A.L. Westgard encounters a covered wagon near Big Springs, Nebr. 1912

Westgard’s goal with the NHA was to mark out and plot each of the principal roads in the 48 States with the exception of Michigan by the end of 1914. NHA asserted that 50,000 miles of national highways – a little more than one-fifth of the total mileage of public roads in the country – would directly serve two-thirds of the entire population. The association’s aim was improvement of these roads.

For 1914, he planned to cover 18,000 miles of highways in the Middle Western and Southern states. That year’s journey started from New Orleans, LA, and went as far north as Pembina, ND, on the Canadian border, east to Tallahassee, FL, and west to Cody, WY. He covered the roughly 18,000-mile distance in a little more than seven months.

In the summer of 1915, Westgard published his map showing the main motor travel routes with special emphasis given to transcontinental and other long-distance highways. A separate map published by NHA showed the 50,000 miles of national highways advocated by the association.

Two Trails Across Continent</br>
Two Trails Across Continent published by The New York Times 1915

There is a good chance that some of those early two-lane byways that you are familiar with today were covered by A.L. Westgard over 100 years ago. We salute this “Daniel Boone of the Gasoline Age.”

For more information on Indiana auto pioneers follow this link.