PBS special to highlight National Park-to-Park Highway

Brandon Wade had a vision of western vistas and the pioneering days of the American automobile. But he did more than most dreamers. As a director, he brought his vision to the PBS television network. The station will bring that vision to homes on May 3 with the program “Paving the Way” (check local stations for exact time).

The two-hour “Paving the Way” program from Wade’s Depth of Field Productions company shows the operation of old cars on the western loop that was the National Park-to-Park Highway. In 1920, that highway connected all national parks in one nearly 5,000-mile loop.

The TV special approaches the subject from three perspectives: the beauty of Yellowstone, Mount Rainier, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon national parks; the ability of 18 cars to maneuver the road and inevitable obstacles along the route; and the tenacity and planning of participants.

Viewers will be wowed by the beauty of the magnificent park scenes and fabulous views of the countryside.  There is additional “wow” factor involved when old cars are shown putting along the road, bogging in mud or reaching a destination. Seven of the drivers completed the ordeal, and the film shows how arduous the voyage really was.

Ample comments are shared by park officials. The film plays to the competition between railroads and motorcars, with the car eventually winning as the preferred form of personal touring. But that wasn’t necessarily the case in 1920.

The road was almost twice as long as the Lincoln Highway, yet little has been known of the National Park-to-Park Highway — mainly because the route was less traveled and more sparsely populated than the sites along the Lincoln Highway. The park highway’s inaugural run in 1920 lasted 76 days. Specific stops along the route are covered in the film. To add to viewing pleasure and recapture the past, a 1926 Model T Ford driven by Lou Allen of St. Louis, Mo., was drafted for special connecting scenes. 

For more details, go to pavingtheway.tv/.

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