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.

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