Col. Fletcher Unveils Marble Monument in Plaza When Coolidge Touches Button in National Capital.
The conclusion of 15 years of effort for a southern transcontinental highway was celebrated here yesterday afternoon when President Coolidge, with the assistance of Col. Ed Fletcher, unveiled the Pacific Coast Milestone of the Lee transcontinental highway. Shortly before 1:45 o'clock yesterday afternoon the President, in his Washington office, touched an electric button that rang a gong in the plaza here. At the signal Col. Fletcher, vice president of the Lee Highway association, unveiled the handsome marble milestone and read the President's message.
STONE IS S. D. MARBLE
The ceremonies were brief, but impressive. Besides his reading of the President's message to San Diego, Col. Fletcher made a few remarks of his own, and he was followed by Mayor Bacon and Admiral A. H. Robertson, each of whom spoke a few words appropriate to the occasion.
The milestone which marks the Pacific terminum of the Lee highway is a solid piece of San Diego county marble, donated by the Veruga Marble company*. It is located in the plaza to the east of the fountain and bears on its east face the shield of the Lee highway and the designation as the Pacific end of the highway, which starts at Washington, D. C. On the western face is a bronze tablet bearing testimony to the high regard of San Diego citizens for Col. Fletcher, whose activity has played an important part in the establishment of the highway. The stone was draped with a flag, which at the tap of the gong, was hoisted to a staff erected on the speakers' platform. The massed bands of the Sciots, which had assembled at the milestone for the ceremony, played the national anthem, and as the last strains died away Col. Fletcher read the following message from the President:
"It is a pleasure to comply with the request of your Lee Highway association and the city of San Diego to send a message for the dedication of the Pacific milestone. President Harding was to have dedicated the Pacific milestone, and had planned to make an address at San Diego on this subject of highways. Perhaps, then, I may appropriately recall something of what he said in dedicating the zero milestone in Washington on June 4, last. Referring to the highway system, which at all times have served to unify society and promote civilization, he spoke of our national highway system of 200,000 miles of modern improved roads, together with more than 2,000,000 miles of rural highways, which yet remain to be improved as rapidly as economic conditions shall justify.
"President Harding emphasized the necessity to utilize every form of transportation to the utmost practicable extent, and commended the various associations which have fostered the good roads movement. Particularly, he thanked the Lee Highway association for erecting the zero milestone, and others which have been made official bench marks of the United States coast and geodetic survey. Just as the zero milestone marks the point of initiation of this splendid transcontinental highway, so the Pacific milestone marks the place of its contact with the Pacific. The southern trans-continental highway is already, in a large part, finished. A relatively small mileage remains to be brought up to the best present day standards, but I am informed that most of these sections are included in the system of federal-aid roads, and that in a near future the necessary links will have been forged. When they are finished, this highway will stand as one of the continuous transcontinental routes available at all seasons of the year for easy transportation. In accepting this monument, it is fitting to express thanks to the citizens of San Diego, the Imperial valley, of Yuma, Ariz., and the state of California, for their particular contributions. The Lee highway association has done a work of national unification in opening up this route between the national capital and southerrn California. The monument may well be dedicated to the purpose of marking the meeting place of this spendid highway with the waters of the Pacific, in the hope that it may hasten the coming day of a perfected system of highway communications throughout the entire nation."
TRIBUTE FROM FLETCHER
Col. Ed. Fletcher, after the reading of the president's message, spoke as follows:
"San Diego is indeed fortunate in having located here the Pacific milestone. We are grateful to President Coolidge for the interest he has taken in its dedication, to the president of the Lee Highway association, Dr. S. M. Johnson, for his magnificent service in helping to secure the early completion of the Lee highway across the continent from Washington to San Diego, and to the Old Spanish Trail association from St. Augustine, Florida to San Diego.
"For 15 years, San Diego has made strenuous efforts and at last succeeded, after the expenditure of millions of state and county money, in building a direct highway through almost impassible mountains, and across the great Colorado desert to the Arizona line at Yuma.
"We are indeed happy to know that within the next six weeks a contract will be let to construct the missing link between Yuma and El Centro, which when completed next year, will give us an up-to-date graded, graveled, or paved highway the entire distance San Diego to El Paso. Within the next two or three years every foot of our highways across the continent will be built—a grand achievement; and I cannot say enough in words of praise to the remarkable business men of this city who by their private contributions and remarkable perserverance have made this event today possible."
A tribute to the indefatigable efforts of U. S. Grant, jr., Fred Jackson, William B. Grosse and Col. Fletcher was paid by Mayor Bacon, who recalled how Col. Fletcher made a trip to Arizona 15 years ago to attend the first great highway meeting. The efforts of these men, who have labored incessantly for the 15 years that have followed that meeting were largely responsible for the construction of the highway, the completion of which was being celebrated, said the mayor.
Admiral A. H. Robertson, commandant of the 11th naval district, spoke briefly on the development of the Pacific coast and the important part that great highways play in that development as well as their military value in the defence of the coast.
A number of distinguished military and naval representatives were present for the ceremonial and Gov. Friend W. Richardson was personally represented by State Senator E. P. Sample. Prominent among the army and navy officers present were Admiral A. H. Robertson, commandant of the 11th naval district; Admiral S. S. Robinson**, commander of the United States battle fleet; Admiral S. E. W. Kittelle, commander of the destroyer squadrons; Brig. Gen. Joseph Pendleton, United States marine corps; Capt. S. E. Moses, Capt. W. S. Crosley, Capt. A. W. Marshall, Capt. T. T. Craven, Capt. J. H. Tomb, Capt. E. H. Watson, Capt. D. W. Sellers† and Capt. F. W. Wieber, all of the navy; aj. H. H. Arnold‡ and Lieut. B. C. Daily of the army.
* The Verruga Marble company mined marble just northwest of Ranchita.
** This should read Robison.
† This should be Capt. D. F. Sellers.
‡ This should be Maj. H. H. Arnold.
Links to people mentioned in the article
Ashley Herman Robertson, Commandant 11th Naval District
William Gross, developer of Grossmont and Mt. Helix
Senator E. D. Sample, two term state senator for district 40
Stanford E. Moses, commander of aircraft squadrons for the navy
Albert W. Marshall
Thomas Tingey Craven (1873-1950) , one of several military officers with this hereditary name.
Francis W. F. Wieber, commandant of San Diego Naval Hospital
Henry Harley Arnold, later a General of the Army