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Week Eleven: Automobiles and Road Building

This week we take up the theme of transportation as we look at the arrival and spread of the automobile.  In his Lecture (approximately 60 minutes), Professor Wiltse deals with road building and the rise of an automobile culture.  Maps & Cityscapes focuses on maps of rum roads and highways in our region, as well as images of how cities changed due to the expansion of roads.  

In Tribal Perspectives, we present pictures and interviews that deal with economic life, while People and the Humanities introduces Yankee Jim and the Yellowstone Trail as well as photographs of the various ways people used their new automobiles in recreation.  In Research we again present our top reading and viewing choices.

Assignment suggestions for this week’s content include:

  • The way changes in transportation, from the invention of the wheel to airplanes, have changed the way people shape and understand their worlds.  How does the dominant form of transportation in any given time dictate elements of culture?
  • The development of infrastructure, including roads, can change the way a place is connected to the rest of the world.  How did roads change the Northwest?  How have other places been changed in their relationships to the rest of the country or world with the arrival of infrastructure or with its destruction through war or natural disaster?

Montana drving in winter, MT Dept. of Transportation


AAA transcontinental trip Glendive, Mt, 1912
National Archives