The 34th President of the United States, one of the “fathers” of the Interstate Highway System, and the iconic founders of Caterpillar Inc., have been selected into the 2016 American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Foundation’s “Hall of Fame.”
Launched in 2010, the “Transportation Development Hall of Fame” honors individuals or families from the public and private sectors who have made extraordinary contributions to U.S. transportation development during their careers. A committee of judges comprised of construction industry journalists annually reviews nominees in two categories:
Transportation Design & Construction Industry Innovators: Honors the men and women who discovered or created a “game changing” product or process that significantly advanced transportation design, construction and/or safety. It seeks to honor the original innovator.
Benjamin Leroy Holt & Clarence Leo “C.L.” Best
Transportation Design & Construction Industry Leaders (Individuals or Families): Recognizes men, women and families who have made significant contributions—beyond just having successful businesses or careers—that have notably helped advance the interests and image of the transportation design, construction and safety industry.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Francis C. Turner
Benjamin Leroy Holt (1849-1920) & Clarence Leo “C.L.” Best (1878-1951)
Benjamin Leroy Holt built his first combined harvester in Stockton, California, in 1886, using flexible chain belts rather than gears to transmit power from the ground wheels to the working mechanism, thus reducing breakage and down time. He built his first steam traction engine tractor in 1890, which could burn wood, coal or oil as fuel and carry 675 gallons of water. Holt incorporated the Holt Manufacturing Company with his brothers in 1892.
Meanwhile, Clarence Leo “C.L.” Best began his career in 1891, at the age of 13, working for his father Daniel Best. Best established the C.L. Best Gas Traction Co. in 1910, the same year Holt Manufacturing registered “Caterpillar” as a trademark. The two companies merged to form the Caterpillar Tractor Co., in 1925. Its first product line consisted of five tractors. In 1936, the company’s track-type tractors helped complete the construction of the Hoover Dam, and one year later Caterpillar machines helped complete the Golden Gate Bridge. Best was chairman of the board of Caterpillar Tractor Company from its founding until his death in 1951.
Whether supporting Allied Troops during World Wars I and II, widening the Panama Canal or helping to construct the Three Gorges Dam in China, “Caterpillar Yellow” machines are known as the standard for the industry. The company, whose current product line consists of more than 300 machines, helped transform the way both the private and public sector transportation construction market completes projects.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969)
His views about the need for a network of Interstate highways were shaped by a 62-day, 3,000-mile cross country trek over dirt, mud and sand roads in 1919 as a young army officer, and also by seeing first-hand the efficiency and strategic value of Germany’s Autobahn during World War II.
Later, as president, Dwight David Eisenhower worked doggedly to build a similar superhighway in the U.S., not only for military transport and evacuation of cities, but also to help reduce road fatalities and connect communities.
On June 29, 1956, President Eisenhower signed the law authorizing construction of the Interstate Highway System and creating the Highway Trust Fund to pay for it. It was the most notable domestic achievement of his presidency, and has been called one of the greatest achievements of the federal government during the second half of the 20th century.
The 47,000-mile road network became the thread that connects the fabric of America. Today, it continues to serve as the lifeblood of the U.S. economy, and provides an unprecedented level of mobility and safety for all Americans.
Francis C. Turner (1908-1999)
In 1994, American Heritage magazine named him one of 10 people who, although unknown to the general public, had changed life for all in America. Others called him one of the “fathers” of the U.S. Interstate Highway System.
Much of his 50-year career in public service focused on big projects and big ideas, and his work produced big results.
Frank Turner first joined the federal Bureau of Public Roads in 1929. In 1943, he was chosen to expedite completion of the Alaska Highway. In 1950, he was named coordinator of the Inter-American highway and projects in other countries.
When President Eisenhower appointed the Clay Committee to plan the Interstates, Turner became the body’s executive secretary. He helped lead the committee’s work and was the liaison between the Bureau and Congress as it wrote the 1956 law authorizing the Interstate system.
With Interstate construction underway, Turner worked from 1957-69 as deputy commissioner of public roads, chief engineer and director of public roads to resolve disputes and keep the program moving forward. In 1969, he was appointed Federal Highway Administrator, the only holder of that position to come up through the ranks. He held the post until his retirement in June 1972.
For more than 30 years, the ARTBA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt entity, has supported an array of initiatives to “promote research, education and public awareness.” Its efforts include educational scholarships, awards, executive education seminars, roadway work zone safety and training programs, special economic reports and a national exhibition on transportation at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.