Friday, December 16, 2011

Florida History: Carl Fisher's vision for Dixie Highway (and the Indy Speedway link)

(Use search box at right to find more "Florida History" on this blog)

By Jane Feehan

Miami Beach developer and automobile industry pioneer, Carl G. Fisher, planned, financed and opened America’s first transcontinental motorway, Lincoln Highway, in 1915. At the same time, he visualized the benefits of a road that would link Florida to the rest of the nation.

That vision became Dixie Highway.

“The Dixie highway should bring thousands of automobiles into the state,” wrote Fisher in 1915.

Indiana native Fisher, builder of the Indianapolis Speedway (1909), planned for the road to start at Lincoln Highway in Chicago with its terminus in Miami. The project was financed by individuals, businesses, and local and state governments organized as the Dixie Highway Association in 1914. Starting in Chicago, the road split into two routes at Indianapolis as it wended south.

“I consider the southern loop of the Dixie highway the most difficult to complete on account of the territory through which it passes and the lack of ready funds,” said Fisher.

Nevertheless, the first car passed through Fort Lauderdale on Dixie Highway July 22, 1915. A twisted mish mash of local roads, the highway was taken over by the federal government as part of the US Route system in 1927.

And so they drove down Dixie Highway, people in “thousands of automobiles” with dreams of Florida sunshine and golden opportunities. Carl Fisher built a road and they came – in droves.

Federal Highway Administration
Miami Daily Metropolis, June 11, 1915
Weidling, Philip J., Burghard, August. Checkered Sunshine. Gainesville: University of Florida Press (1966).

Tags: Florida history, Fort Lauderdale history, Dixie Highway history, Carl G. Fisher, Lincoln Highway, the first transcontinental road, film research, early Florida investor 1900s,


Lewis Jaffe said...

Dear Jane,
This weeks posting(5/27/2012) on my bookplate blog may interest you.It is about Carl Fisher.

Jane Feehan said...

Thank you ... As a bibliophile, I find your blog most interesting!

-Jane Feehan