Looking for the Ocean, cont. 2

RIVERSIDE, CALIFORNIA

Enter Col. Dell Potter; the new national organizer for the Ocean-to-Ocean Highway.

Potter, a fast-talking, big-thinking man came from Clifton, Arizona, a backwater mining town in the southeast part of the state, far removed from the glitz of Los Angeles.

Unlike the rest of the gentlemen in the room, he was self-made. He had built his own railroad, opened his own mines, and perhaps single-handedly hatched the Ocean-to-Ocean idea six years prior.

Called once “a speed king in speakers,” he was probably something like today’s Jim Conkle, the fervent Route 66 promoter: a man always on the road, shaking hands, talking big plans.

To a crowd in Marshall, Missouri, Potter once rallied:

“The time has come when the government must take a hand in the building of highways. . . . We need not cringe or ask favor. We must demand the right to appropriate our own money. This movement for a national highway is larger than any political party. One great party has been whipped into line. Senators and Congressmen dare not refuse to vote in favor of a national highway unless they desire to retire from public life.”

Route 66 needs someone like this today; someone to keep it from slithering into terminal sedation.

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Filed under 1912, California, highways, Ocean to Ocean Highway, Route 66, Travel

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