An argument could easily be made that when it comes to transportation we have come full circle. The Good Roads movement that gave rise to the U.S. highway system, including Route 66, was rooted in the tsunami of interest in bicycling that swept the county in the late 19th century. Recently the Adventure Cycling Association mapped and designated Route 66 as a bicycle corridor. That iconic highway has spawned a resurgent love affair with the great American road trip, and an international fascination with the road that has come to symbolize the freedom of the open road that was the theme of movies such Easy Rider.
During the infancy of the American auto industry, electric vehicles were often viewed as the wave of the future. The first pedestrian struck and killed by an automobile, an unfortunate fellow named Bliss, died resultant of an encounter with an electric taxi cab in New York City. The year was 1899. Today the embryonic Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum in Kingman, Arizona where the history of the electric vehicle is being preserved is becoming a destination for enthusiasts who see the electric vehicle as the ghost of Christmas future.
A few weeks ago, in serial format, we shared the adventurers of Alexander Winton who attempted to cross the continent by automobile in 1901. His adventure came to abrupt end in the sands of the Nevada desert that proved impassable. Before that we followed Edsel Ford west on his trip in 1915 by reprinting his journal as a serial. These were but two examples of the odysseys that birthed the beginning of a decades long love/hate relationship with the automobile, and the national obsession with the road trip for fun or out of desperation that influenced films (The Grapes of Wrath, They Drove By Night and Planes, Trains & Automobiles are examples).