Pre-1960s Attempts to Create a U.S. Department of Transportation – Part 1: Defining “Transportation” 1923-1942

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of its creation. At the time, the Eno Center for Transportation assembled a documentary history of the creation of USDOT, from the original Johnson White House task force proposal in 1965, through the proposal and Congressional consideration of legislation in 1966, to the formal opening of the Department on April 1, 1967.

As part of the research for that documentary record, I discovered that while it was Lyndon Johnson who finally made a formal proposal for creation a USDOT and pushed it through, his predecessors Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower each came tantalizingly close to creating a Department of Transportation, or some equivalent organization, as far back as 1946. This story has never before been told.