Iowa’s River to River Road Done in ONE HOUR!!!!

This is pure history and damn, IOWA built one road from the Mississippi to the Missouri Rivers….in one fucking hour!

Few of us go about thinking of Iowa as a pioneer of anything, let alone a crucial piece of modern America, but their River to River Road (RRR) was the template for all interstates to come.

The first record of an Iowan Chemin des Voyageurs, or Road of the Traders, comes from a French map in 1703, which shows a route crossing the state from northeast to southwest; but the intrepid Quebecois fur trappers who had worked their way down to the Mississippi valley were undoubtedly building on existing, ancient local trade routes.

The modern road also connects the Mississippi and Missouri, now east to west from Council Bluffs to Davenport, and was accomplished in an amazing year’s time. In 1909, a year of wet weather coincided with a relative explosion of automobile traffic (the first full year of Model T sales), resulting in a public outcry about poor road planning and inconsistent maintenance. Two men on the front lines of the outcry, Des Moines Daily Capital owner Lafayette Young and Capital writer J. W. Eichinger, launched an editorial campaign in favor of completing a 380-mile River to River Road, although they don’t appear to have originated the idea.

All through the winter of 1909-’10, Young (a former state senator and later United States senator), Eichinger (who later worked for the state highway commission) and soon Governor Carroll built support for the road, and eventually talked every community along the route into support. At a Good Roads meeting in March, the governor gave Republican and Democratic committees of each town along the way responsibility for improving their section, all to the same standard–and all at the same time.

Through the summer of 1910, towns the length of the route made preparations, stockpiling men, materials and machinery, and making major repairs to bridges and culverts. The exact day seems to be lost to history, but at 9 a.m. on a Saturday, probably in May or June, 10,000 men got to work, all at once.

They were done in an hour, with road signs installed by the end of the day. The thousands of picks, shovels, plows, scrapers and new King road drags had done their work, and Iowa possessed a road that within a year was widely recognized as the standard of the world. “This is a real road, and even when the ocean-to-ocean highway shall be a fact in the luxurious future, transcontinental automobile travelers may continue to look forward to this particular stretch in pleasant anticipation,” wrote Victor Eubank, after completing the pioneering Raymond and Whitcomb cross-country tour in 1912.

Today, what became Iowa Routes 6 and 7, and later U.S. 32, is largely beneath Interstate 80, but many sections, especially west of Iowa City, still travel through the center of the towns that built it in a day, over a century ago.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.