Story of the Day for Thursday September 20, 2012
The Seedling Mile
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Can you envision life in America without the invention of the automobile? When I was growing up, I couldn’t imagine asking a girl out to a drive-in movie, and then having to watch the entire show sitting on a horse.
The automobile has revolutionized our lives. But, it was Carl Graham Fisher who, in 1912, proclaimed the obvious, but brilliant insight that, “The automobile won’t get anywhere until it has good roads to run on.”
Back in 1912, there were no paved roads in America. Major transportation was done by railways. Most roads were dirt “market roads.” Many rejected the notion of expanding roadways to enhance interstate travel, contemptuously labeling them “peacock alleys” – roads intended only for the pleasure of the wealthy.
Fisher proposed building a paved, two-lane highway from New York City to San Francisco. But, without government funding, how would you pay for it? Americans had grown up without paved roads and most saw no need for them.
Carl Graham Fisher realized that the easiest way to prove anything is by demonstration, and so he hatched the plan called the “Seedling Mile.” Across the planned route, he would pave a mile of highway. He required that the seedling mile be at least six miles from any town, and on a section of rutty road where travel was difficult. Building a smooth, paved road in the middle of nowhere is an odd notion, but Fisher knew that if motorists struggled along a rough road, and then experienced the sheer pleasure of a mile of smooth travel, they would insist on having the entire road paved. Fisher’s madcap idea was furthered by such things as the Iowa-Minnesota football game. A heavy rainstorm after the game bogged down nearly 500 motorists traveling between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. The road to Davenport was blocked by stuck cars. Over 1500 football fans had to spend the night in their vehicles or trudge to nearby farmhouses for refuge.
Enough was enough. The people of Iowa saw the difference between muddy roads and the seedling mile. The next spring, Iowa voters approved measures for paving projects across the state.
King David wrote a song with the line, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Although Carl Graham Fisher was brilliant, we must credit David with the invention of the “Seedling Mile.” God knows the easiest way to prove anything is by demonstration.
(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)