The Motoring Tourist: National Parks Adventure Featured at National Automobile Museum
The new Masterpiece Exhibit, “Motoring Tourist: National Parks Adventure” will allow Museum visitors to see the role the 1910s automobile-loving public played in the creation of a National Park-to-Park Highway.
New National Playgrounds
During the early part of the 20th century, fabulous National Parks with romantic vistas, extraordinary waterfalls, gigantic trees, and amazing fishing and hiking were available to Americans but poor road conditions made them extremely difficult to reach.
In the late 1910s, automobiles were able to bring man to nature like never before and the National Park Service embraced the motoring tourist. But Park officials soon became very concerned that the interest in America’s national playgrounds would diminish if roads to them were not improved.
National Park-to-Park Highway
In stepped Stephen Mather, the director of the National Park Service who was a major advocate for a highway linking the National Parks and Anton Westgard, a pathfinder for the American Automobile Association, who actually mapped the route.
When Mather learned road building engineers were planning to disturb the natural beauty during road construction, he rushed to put artists and landscape architects in charge of the process to preserve the dramatic panoramic views and picturesque beauty each road curve offered.
The National Park-to-Park Highway was a gigantic 5,000 mile scenic loop through 11western states, connecting 12 national parks.
Promotional signs read, “You Sing America, Why Not SEE it?”
The National Park-to-Park Highway began in Denver, Colorado and went to Rocky Mountain National Park, then on through Wyoming to Yellowstone, north through Montana to Glacier National Park, then west to Mount Rainier, south to Crater Lake, Lassen Volcanic, Yosemite, General Grant and Sequoia national parks, then east to Zion, the Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, Mesa Verde and back to Denver.
Playtime in America
Adventurers piled their kids, the family dog and camping gear (including tarps that connected right to their cars) for their journey to see America. Avid outdoor enthusiasts eagerly enjoyed their national playgrounds and mingled with others from different states and different walks of life.
National Parks offered the opportunity for grape growing farmers from California to car camp right next to bankers from New York. National Parks allowed Americans to mingle like never before.
Since motoring tourists in the 1910s were clambering into their cars to enjoy their National Parks, suppliers of auto camping took the creative challenge to meet the needs of the traveling public. All of this is illustrated in the new Masterpiece Exhibit at the National Automobile Museum. See the innovative gear and auto camping accessories they created at the Museum at 10 S. Lake Street.
The Museum is open Mon. – Sat. from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Sun. from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $4 for children 6 to 18 years. Children age 5 and younger are free. Parking is free in the Museum lot. For more information, call (775) 333-9300 or visit www.automuseum.org.