Ed Fletcher and the drive on the ‘Broadway of America’

Ed Fletcher loved roads and loved San Diego. So much so, he lead a group in 1926 that started out at Horton Plaza in San Diego on a dangerous drive east, making it to Memphis in an unofficial record of three days.

The local entrepreneur was a big time booster of roads to San Diego. He was active in the Good Roads Movement of the time and pushed to have the transcontinental roads end in San Diego. His family name is on Fletcher Hills neighborhood of El Cajon and Fletcher Parkway in La Mesa and El Cajon.

The 1926 trek, included in his papers in the U.C. San Diego library, offer a written and photographed glimpse of just what highways were like a century ago.

Before there were Interstate Highways, before there were U.S. Highways, the Good Roads Movement included local boosters who banded together to attract travelers and encourage paving of roads between the communities.

The “Broadway of America” route meandered around from New York City to San Diego. Much of it was incorporated into U.S. 80; drive about 60 miles of the mostly 1920s route in Towering Old Highway on Kindle or the chapter in Joyrides Around San Diego.

And by the way, it wasn’t until 1934 that the last part of the route was even paved.

Fletcher’s papers are an amazing look at the essential part of our national transportation system was created. Next time you go to my favorite eateries in Fletcher Hills — Beef ‘n’ Bun and the Barbecue Pit — think about this guy, one of the leaders that made it all possible.

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