History of California

California's State Highway System
The Bureau of Highways with their buckboard wagon in Riverside County, 1896 ©Image Attribution forthcoming. Image belongs to the respective owner(s).
1896 Jan 1

California's State Highway System

California, USA

Automobile travel became important after 1910 when motor cars and trucks began to become common. Before that nearly all long-distance travel was by railroad or stagecoach, with horse- or mule-drawn wagons hauling the freight. A key route was the Lincoln Highway, which was America's first transcontinental road for motorized vehicles, connecting New York City to San Francisco. The state highway system in the U.S. state of California dates back to 1896, when the state took over maintenance of the Lake Tahoe Wagon Road. Before then, roads and streets were managed exclusively by local governments. Construction of a statewide highway system began in 1912, after the state's voters approved an $18 million bond issue for over 3,000 miles (4900 km) of highways. The creation of the Lincoln Highway in 1913 was a major stimulus on the development of both industry and tourism in the state. The last large addition was made by the California State Assembly in 1959, after which only minor changes have been made


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