Open Menu
Open Menu

Orphans and independents to make their own Bankhead Highway centennial run

Published in

Photo courtesy Antique American Independent Automobile Association.

While last year’s Military Vehicle Preservation Association Bankhead Highway Convoy perhaps set precedents for covering every possible remaining inch of the highway, it came a year too early to celebrate the highway’s centennial, something the Antique American Independent Automobile Association aims to correct this April with its own Bankhead Highway tour.

Envisioned by Alabama senator John Hollis Bankhead as a Southern alternative to the Lincoln Highway that would connect Washington, D.C., to Southern California – America’s first all-weather transcontinental highway and the Broadway of America, as marketing materials called it – the Bankhead didn’t get its start until July 1916, when Congress passed the Federal Aid Road Act of 1916, which provided $75 million in matching funds for states to start developing their road networks.

Even so, what roads existed at the time remained primitive and, despite the formation of the Bankhead Highway Association later in the year, the Bankhead Highway itself wouldn’t come about until years later. When the U.S. Army’s Franklin convoy set out to trace the Bankhead Highway in 1920 – the trip that inspired the MVPA’s convoy – it had to slog through many an area of undeveloped or underdeveloped roads. Not until 1921’s Federal Aid Highway Act did real progress ensue toward a national network of highways, particularly out West.

Unlike the MVPA convoy, the AAIAA centennial run of the Bankhead will limit itself to the highway’s Texas portion, which stretches from Texarkana to Odessa. The tour will also be open to period-correct American vehicles built from 1916 through 1975, divided into five touring groups depending on age.

The AAIAA Bankhead tour will run from April 21 through April 25. For more information, visit