In 1956 the interstate system came to the United States. U.S. Senator Albert Gore Sr. and Congressman George Fallon introduced the bill to Congress. From there the “National System of Interstate and Defense Highways” or the Fallon-Gore Act came to be.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the legislation funding the interstate system on June 29, 1956. While many car enthusiasts were excited about the opportunities that the Interstate Highway System offered, President Eisenhower’s inspiration came from his illustrious Army career.
The German Autobahn offered a certain simplicity and brilliance to Military Transport that the United States did not have. In 1919 Lieutenant Colonel Eisenhower was assigned to observe the First Transcontinental Motor Convoy. They began in Washington D.C. and ended their movement in San Francisco. The exercise covered 3,200 miles with 79 vehicles of different sizes and 297 personnel. This was the beginning of Eisenhower’s idea for a more connected country and a better protected American people. Without the interstate, large and quick military movement within the United States was nearly impossible.
Now promoted to General, Eisenhower was assigned with the duty of defeating Nazi Germany in World War II. In complete amazement General Eisenhower watched how Allies could race with urgency and ease across the German Autobahn. The superhighway ran from Germany to France and was instrumental in mobilizing supplies to Allied Forces and helping achieve victory.
In 1953 Dwight D. Eisenhower took the office of President. A few years later the first of the interstate systems to open to traffic was Interstate-65 at the Tennessee-Alabama line on November 15, 1958. Today, Tennessee holds more of I-40 inside the state lines than any other state in the United States. Of the 2,554.22 miles Tennessee holds 455 of Interstate 40 across 20 counties. Cumberland County has more miles of I-40 than any other county in the state with 36 miles.
While the original inspiration for the Great American Interstate System was for strategic military movement across the country in Cumberland County it meant industry, tourism, and jobs. Crossville is the Crossroads of Tennessee and has been since its Wilderness days. Cumberland County holds U.S. Highway 70, U.S. Highway 127, 8 State Highways, and Interstate 40. The county is almost directly in the middle of Nashville and Knoxville on I-40. Cumberland County is a logistical brilliance.
The next few decades would define the Cumberland County we know today and the businesses that supply our people with jobs. Check back for more blog posts to follow.