Great British Columbia License Plates Runs!
The "Good Roads Everywhere" Campaign
"Good Roads Everywhere" Campaign is very much
the story of one man, Charles Henry Davis, and his desire
to see a national highway system constructed in the United
Davis family had extensive commercial and industrial holdings
at the turn of the twentieth century, including the American
Road Machine Company (of which Charles would later be president),
as well as Kentucky coal fields controlled through the Kentenia
Davis would subsequently
lease the Kentenia stake to Henry Ford on a basis that Ford
do all the mining and pay Davis an agreed price per car
load of coal in addition to a royalty on each Ford car that
agreement would subsequently become the principal source of
Henry's wealth, and is assumed to be one of the driving forces
behind his initial involvement in the Good Roads Campaign
- a movement which ultimately sought to improve the motoring
experience in the United States, and extend automobile ownership.
In 1911, Davis
established the National Highways Association, which he
used to advocate for a "Four-Fold" highway system
that was to be comprised of a 50,000 mile National Highways
Network that would be fed by 100,000 miles of United
States Highways; 100,000 miles State Highways built
with Federal aid; and various Local Roads built
by towns and counties.
a promotional idea, Davis convinced all of the (then) 48 American
States; the territories of Alaska and Hawaii; six "Dependencies"
(such as Guam and Puerto Rico); all of the (then) nine Canadian
provinces; the Yukon Territory; Newfoundland; and other hemispheric
countries (i.e. Panama), to issue license plate No. 25 from
their jurisdiction to him.
then attached all these license plates to his personal vehicle,
while a second car that he owned was decorated with the insignias
of all the current automobile societies in the country.
H. Davis (left) standing beside his Hudson. The Hudson
was decorated with the Number 25 License Plate from
all over North America.
courtesy of Richard Weingroff (circa 1920s).
unusual two-car caravan was then used to tour the United States
and draw attention to his cause of "Good Roads Everywhere".
to Conrad Hughson, the reason that the No. 25 had been selected
was that this was the number that Davis had been issued in
his home state of Massachusetts.
When Davis died
on June 2, 1951, it is understood that his collection of
No. 25 license plates covered the walls of a carriage house
found on his property. Later, the State Government would
acquire the property for the purpose of constructing a new
road across Cape Cod. At this point it is believed that
the plates began to disperse into the hands of various collectors.
it is believed that Davis started compiling No. 25 plates
in the mid-1920s (possibly 1925) through to 1940.
some of the license plates that were provided to Davis would
never have been issued by that particular jurisdiction.
For instance, Prince Edward Island (PEI) did not issue two-digit
numeric plates in the 1920s. Accordingly, the No. 25 plate
provided to Davis would not have been a valid registration
British Columbia, the practice was slightly different. Plate
No. 25 had been issued since the first year of vehicle registrations
in 1904. As low numbered BC license plates could be renewed
annually, and rather than revoke the number in favour of Mr
Davis, it is believed that the Motor Vehicle Branch (MVB)
simply produced an additional set of No. 25 plates.
F. Weingroff, "Good Roads Everywhere: Charles Henry Davis
and the National Highways Association", Highway History,
U.S. Department of Transportation, http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/davis.cfm
(10 July 2009).
William Whitworth, "Good Roads License Plates",
http://www.whitworthfamily.org/goodroads.htm (10 July 2009).
Longfellow, "Montana Resident Donates Charles Henry Davis'
1936 Montana License Plates", Highway History,
U.S. Department of Transportation, http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/back0808.cfm
(10 July 2009).
© Copyright Christopher John
Garrish. All rights reserved.