EISENHOWER'S JOURNEY THAT CHANGED AMERICA
A Remarkable Story
A documentary about the remarkable story of the longest motorized military convoy assembled by humankind in 1919 that left the White House to travel across the United States to San Francisco, and that changed the life of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the American people, and the world in perpetuity.
The film relates the particulars of the convoy’s historic trip and chronicles the myriad changes along the route over the years. After Ike is the story of a century-old trip that changed the United States and continues to impact us all.
A journey that changed America
After Ike: On the Trail of the Century - Old Journey that Changed America
Their destination was 3,251 miles away from Washington DC in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.
On a sunny July morning in 1919, 295 military personnel and 81 vehicles assembled on the south side of the White House in Washington DC. The first Army Transcontinental Motor Convoy was the longest motorized convoy ever assembled by humankind.
Animated photo of Dwight Eisenhower (right) during the convoy in Firestone Homestead, Columbiana, Ohio during the 1919 Transcontinental Motor Convoy.
The documentary employs scrolling parallax effect to add depth and motion to historic still photography.
Image credit: https://www.eisenhowerlibrary.gov
An Engaging Story With Historic Players
The convoy was about to embark on a historic trip over the Lincoln Highway. A 28-year-old lieutenant colonel named Dwight Eisenhower was one of 37 officers assigned as observers of the convoy.
Eisenhower signed the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 into law, a direct result of his experience traveling 3,251 miles across the United States during the 1919 convoy, and later his exposure as Supreme Commander to the German Autobahns during WWII.
The 1919 Transcontinental Motor Convoy
The convoy left Washington DC on July 7, 1919. With an average of 6.07 mph, they arrived in San Francisco after 62 days of hardship on a journey that would change the US forever.
The convoy traveled 3,251 miles. Captain William Greany, the official Statistical Officer, reported that the convoy was involved in 230 road accidents, mostly due to "appalling traffic conditions."
Read Captain Greany's report here.
Enlisted Men and Officers
Miles Traveled in 62 Days
Average Miles Per Hour
Average Miles Per Day
To those who have known only concrete and macadam highways of gentle grades and engineered curves, such a trip might seem humdrum. In those days, we were not sure it could be accomplished at all. Nothing of the sort had ever been attempted
Transcontinental Motor Convoy Route
At Ease: Stories I Tell to Friends by Dwight D. Eisenhower
Firestone Film – 1919
Good Roads – Ford Motor Company – 1919 Film
Contributors to After Ike
The Outlaw – 1943 American Western
About the Team
Michael S. Owen - Director - Author After Ike
Michael S. Owen is a retired US Ambassador. During his 30 years as a Foreign Service Officer he worked in numerous countries across Africa and Asia. Now that he’s back home, he’s delighting in traveling around his own country and has driven over the Lincoln Highway several times. He has published several short stories in literary journals.
He lives in Reston, Virginia, with his wife Annerieke.
Gregory F. Maassen - Producer
Dr. Gregory F. Maassen is a multimedia, strategic digital marketing, videographer, and (interim) manager with over 23 years of experience, including 18 years of senior management experience with the IFC/World Bank and USAID programs in Armenia, Southern Africa (15 countries), Afghanistan, Russia, Iraq, Macedonia, and Jordan.
He is the founder of Wandel Guides LLC, the production company for the "After Ike" documentary. He is a Fulbright scholar and has a Ph.D. in business administration. "After Ike" is his graduation project for his masters in filmmaking at American University.
Brian McCotter - Creative Director
Brian McCotter specializes in strategic communications, brand development, and program management. He has extensive experience leading and managing integrated organizational communications, stakeholder relations, and corporate strategy projects.
He possesses a BA from Duke University and an M.A. from the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University as well as course work at Emmanuel College, Cambridge University, and the University of Cape Town.
Michael Owen, author of After Ike: On the Trail of the Century-Old Journey that Changed America, provides commentary for a 1919 U.S. Army silent film documenting a transcontinental motor convoy. Click here to watch the entire episode at C-SPAN American History TV
This reel starts with the dedication of the "Zero Milestone" at the Ellipse, official starting point of the journey, in which Secretary of War, Newton D Baker and Congressman Julius Kahn participated. Lt Col McClure receives the wreath to be delivered to Governor William Stevens of California.
This reel starts with an artillery tractor towing 3 trucks, a load of approximately 30 tons, through soft mud.
This reel starts with the convoy at Granite Point, Utah, August 21, 1919 Entering Great Salt Lake Desert over new Seiberling Cut Off which shortens the Lincoln Highway about 55 miles.
Images from the silent film. Click on the arrows to browse through the collection.
Image captions are from the original transcript.
The Top 10 Pop Songs From 1919
The documentary "After Ike" features the Top 10 Pop Songs from 1919, sourced from the Library of Congress' National Jukebox. Thanks to the Music Modernization Act, we have the privilege to use this music since all recordings released before 1923 became public domain on January 1, 2022. While we've digitally enhanced the original recording to eliminate noise and imperfections, we took care not to compromise the authenticity by over-processing the audio.
After you've gone - #1 Billboard 1919
Bourdon, Rosario -- Conductor, Harris, Marion -- Vocalist -- Soprano Vocal, Creamer, Henry -- Lyricist
Layton, Turner -- Composer
Literature List and Resources
The following historical resources and materials are used for the documentary
- 1Commemorative Program, "A California Dinner in Honor of the Officers and Men Who Made up the First Transcontinental Convoy of the Motor Transport Corps, U.S. Army over the Lincoln Highway, Washington to San Francisco, July 7 - September 7, 1919" [U.S. Army, Transport Corps, Transcontinental Convoy: Records, 1919, Box 1; NAID #12165975]
- 2Memorandum from Lt. Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower to the Chief, Motor Transport Corps, with attached report on the Trans-Continental Trip, November 3, 1919. [DDE's Records as President, President's Personal File, Box 967, 1075 Greany Maj. William C.; NAID #1055071]
- 3Report, "Principal Facts Concerning the First Transcontinental Army Motor Transport Expedition, Washington to San Francisco, July 7 to September 6, 1919." [DDE's Records as President, President's Personal File, Box 967, 1075 Greany Maj. William C.; NAID #12005074]
- 4Report, from 1st Lt. E.R. Jackson (Ordnance Observer) to Col. L.B. Moody (Ordnance Department, USA, Tank, Tractor & Trailer Division), "Report on First Transcontinental Motor Convoy," October 31, 1919. [U.S. Army, Transport Corps, Transcontinental Convoy: Records, 1919, Box 1, Report on first transcontinental motor convoy] [U.S. Army, Transport Corps, Transcontinental Convoy: Records, 1919, Box 1, Report on first transcontinental motor convoy; NAID #12165976]
- 5"Daily Log of the First Transcontinental Motor Convoy, Washington, DC to San Francisco, Cal., July 7th to Sept. 6th, 1919" [U.S. Army, Transport Corps, Transcontinental Convoy: Records, 1919, Box 1, Daily log of the first transcontinental motor convoy (typewritten copy); NAID #12166042]
- 6Three Reels and Transcripts: National Archives Identifier:24694 Local Identifier:111-H-1189 Creator(s): Department of Defense. Department of the Army. Office of the Chief Signal Officer. (9/18/1947 - 3/1/1964) Series: Historical Films, ca. 1914 - ca. 1936 - Record Group 111: Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, 1860 - 1985
- 7The New York Times Time Machine: Search for "Lincoln Highway Caravan", "Army Train".
- 8Program of Exercises - Unveiling and Dedication of the Zero Milestone Monument: Unveiling and dedication of the Zero Milestone Monument in 1923. See our post with an online version of the original document.