Dwight David Eisenhower 34th President of the United States, General in the U.S. Army, Father of the Interstate Highway System and Texas native, was inducted into the Texas Transportation Hall of Honor on December 6. The ceremony took place at the Eisenhower Birthplace State Historic Site in Denison, Texas, on the porch of the home where he was born.
“The purpose of the hall is quite simple,” said Dennis Christiansen, agency director of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI). “From the period of Texas statehood to present, to give recognition to those who have made a difference in transportation in the state of Texas.”
Eisenhower’s induction into the hall recognized his leadership in the creation of the United States Interstate Highway System, which is 60 years old this year.
Eisenhower left Texas with his family and moved to Kansas as a toddler. Twenty-three years later, he returned to Texas to serve as Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio where he also met his future wife, Mamie. During his early years in the Army, his experiences traveling cross-country impressed upon him the importance of good roads. Then, almost four decades later, in June 1956, then-President Eisenhower signed the act that created a 41,000-mile National System of Interstate and Defense Highways.
Today, Texas has more interstate highway mileage than any other state. The system has contributed some $3.2 trillion dollars to the Texas economy over its lifetime and more than $126 billion in 2015 alone.
Eisenhower’s granddaughter, Mary Jean Eisenhower of Kansas City, Missouri, was in attendance for the event and accepted the honor on his behalf.
“My grandfather was extremely multi-faceted—he was an athlete at West Point, then a military man, then the president, but above all, he was a solutions man,” Eisenhower said. “He saw the interstate highway system as a solution. It is so touching and dear to us that this is being memorialized for our family and for future generations.”
The largest public works project in history and lauded as one of Eisenhower’s major achievements, the system was renamed the Dwight David Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush.
Eisenhower is the 42nd member of the Hall of Honor, which was established in 2000 by TTI to recognize select individuals who played pivotal roles in the advancement of transportation in Texas and the nation. Each individual inducted is recognized by a plaque on permanent display in the Hall of Honor, which is located at TTI on the campus of Texas A&M University.