Archive for Sunday, December 16, 2012

100 years ago: Proposed motorcar tax would fund road improvements

December 16, 2012


From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for Dec. 16, 1912:

  • "Thus it begins to appear as if Lawrence will be on the map when the $10,000,000 rock road is built across the United States. Mr. A. L. Westgard was sent out by the men who are backing this proposition and his favorable report indicates that this road probably will be chosen. Mr. Westgard took three routes across the continent and of these three one is to be selected. Then the men who are backing the project expect to spend a sum of $10,000,000 in improving this road and making it practically a solid rock road from east to west. Lawrence people are becoming greatly enthused over the prospects of this road's running through here and further developments will be anxiously awaited.... Tonight the Lawrence Automobile and Good Roads Association will meet at the Merchants Association rooms over the Peoples State Bank and talk Good Roads.... The autoists propose a tax on all motor vehicles, and this tax is to be used in improving roads. It is estimated that were a tax of 50 cents per horse power assessed against all motor cars in the state a sum close to $100,000 would be raised annually and this would certainly give Kansas some splendid roads."
  • "Washington -- With the galleries packed with leaders of the Women's Christian Temperance Union and their supporters, the Senate today devoted half a day to the consideration of the Kenyon and Sheppard bill to prevent the shipment of intoxicating liquors into 'dry states.' Delegations seeking support for the measure spent the morning visiting their senators urging its passage. Equally determined, others opposed its adoption. Senator Sanders declared that congress did not plan to interfere with the states in the exercise of their own rights over the liquor traffic."


LawrenceTownie 5 years, 5 months ago

Is this the beginning of car taxation or maybe the Kansas Turnpike? Did the east to west route finally become I-70? Interesting article.

Sarah St. John 5 years, 5 months ago


This proposed road eventually was created as the Lincoln Highway. See an early-century map of it here:

This highway is still in existence and will be celebrating its 100th birthday next year. Sadly, in spite of all the happy anticipation felt by Kansans, the map shows that the road bypassed our state entirely, as well as Colorado. City officials in these states had assumed that the route would be taken through there, because the road's "Trail Blazers" had taken their route that way, but it was not to be. Road officials decided on a shorter, more direct route.

Here you can read all about this highway, the first coast-to-coast highway in the United State: This article mentions the Good Roads Movement, which has appeared frequently in past OHTs as Lawrence and Topeka had pretty active chapters. (Here's a fun little-known fact -- the Good Roads Movement was actually started by bicyclists!)

The Lincoln Highway is reported to have been the brainchild of one Carl G. Fisher, who was a headlight entrepreneur and one of the original investors in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Here is an earlier 100 Years Ago about this road:

An east-to-west trip on the Lincoln Highway in its earliest years was expected to take between 20 and 30 days! Several books were written by early travelers about their experiences on the highway.

Sarah St. John 5 years, 5 months ago

According to the wikipedia article (sorry, I can't find a copy of the original source, so take this as secondary) --

"According to the Association's 1916 Official Road Guide a trip from the Atlantic to the Pacific on the Lincoln Highway was 'something of a sporting proposition' and might take 20 to 30 days. To make it in 30 days the motorist would need to average 18 miles (29 km) an hour for 6 hours per day, and driving was only done during daylight hours. The trip was thought to cost no more than $5 a day per person, including food, gas, oil, and even 'five or six meals in hotels.' Car repairs would, of course, increase the cost.

"Since gasoline stations were still rare in many parts of the country, motorists were urged to top off their gasoline at every opportunity, even if they had done so recently. Motorists should wade through water before driving through to verify the depth. The list of recommended equipment included chains, a shovel, axe, jacks, tire casings and inner tubes, tools, and (of course) a pair of Lincoln Highway pennants. And, the guide offered this sage advice: 'Don't wear new shoes.'

"Firearms were not necessary, but west of Omaha full camping equipment was recommended, and the guide warned against drinking alkali water that could cause serious cramps. In certain areas, advice was offered on getting help, for example near Fish Springs, Utah, 'If trouble is experienced, build a sagebrush fire. Mr. Thomas will come with a team. He can see you 20 miles off.' Later editions omitted Mr. Thomas, but westbound travelers were advised to stop at the Orr's Ranch for advice, and eastbound motorists were to check with Mr. K.C. Davis of Gold Hill, Nevada."

LawrenceTownie 5 years, 5 months ago

Thanks Sarah for this info. on this highway. I wondered when I looked at the map if it was Highway I-80. The Wiki article says it runs close by it. I am very familiar with I-80, as it runs thru Des Moines, IA and is a very busy road. My daughter used to live just east of Des Moines in Altoona, IA, so I have traveled it many times. I don't remember seeing signs for this old route, but I'll look a little more at the maps to see if I can find the towns it goes thru now. I have also traveled 80 east to the Illinois line and west as far as Lincoln, Neb. So very familiar with these routes. Thanks much for the info.

LawrenceTownie 5 years, 5 months ago

After looking at more maps, I see the Lincoln runs through Ames. I am pretty sure we took 30 west from Ames while going to a family reunion 7 years ago. I remember it being a very straight highway, and still in good use. Interesting to see all this, named after the President. I just saw the film Lincoln last night.

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