In the summer of 1919, Lieutenant Colonel Dwight D. Eisenhower participated in the first Army Transcontinental Motor Convoy. The expedition consisted of 24 officers and 258 enlisted men who manned 81 motorized Army vehicles across the United States from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco. It was on this venture — covering a distance of 3,251 miles in 62 days — that Eisenhower learned first-hand the difficulties faced in traveling great distances on roads that were impassable. In sharp contrast, when the Allies reached Germany in 1945, the high-speed Autobahn provided them with dependable supply routes and efficient troop movement.
These early experiences influenced President Eisenhower when he enacted the Interstate Highway System Act. Ike believed that an Interstate Highway System was “…as necessary to defense as it is to our national economy and personal safety.” The new Presidential Gallery of the Eisenhower Presidential Museum will feature an Interstate Highway System Exhibit, emphasizing the dual purpose of establishing the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways to defend against the fear of a Cold War attack and to promote economic growth.
Residents and businesses in Ike’s home state of Kansas are encouraged to “Drive the Legacy” in celebration of this 60th anniversary of the Interstate Highway System. Kansans can purchase I LIKE IKE license plates from their county motor vehicle office at any time. In addition to regular vehicle registration fees and a one-time $45 distinctive license plate fee to the State of Kansas, the cost of the I LIKE IKE license plate is a $50. This annual donation to the Eisenhower Foundation supports educational programs, exhibits, and events at the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum, and Boyhood Home.