"SHSI Certificate of Recognition"
"Best on the Web"

Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


From Encyclopedia Dubuque
Jump to navigationJump to search
5th and Locust circa 1968 prior to URBAN RENEWAL. Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald
1917 road sign.
Radiator badge topper.
Motor Club membership card.

AUTOMOBILE CLUB. Formed in June 1910 as a social organization for the area's first motorists, the Club promoted automobile use and fought unfair laws and automobile taxses. As an example, one early law requires a mature person to precede every automobile with a red flag during the day or a red lantern at night. The organization associated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) also fought a law limiting speed to eight miles per hour. The organization worked for a uniform motor vehicle law, secured the first federal aid for highways, and fought federal taxes on gasoline, licenses and automobiles. (1) Counted among the charter members were C. M. Peaslee, Anthony F. HEEB, Thomas J. FITZPATRICK, John V. CONZETT, Thomas James MULGREW, and W. E. Ellwanger. The Club's first president was C. M. Peaslee.

Photo courtesy: Bob Reding

During the first six years of its existence, the Club established rules and regulations for automobile drivers, marked roads into the city with "directory signs" showing local laws, and posted warning signs near schools and other public buildings. It was responsible for securing a motorcycle policeman and traffic policeman. As a pioneer in the movement to establish good roads in Iowa, the Club was among the first to support the establishment of the HAWKEYE HIGHWAY and the Dubuque-Platteville Road. The Club also organized "motor drives" to Cascade, Dyersville, and other cities in the county. The group proposed in 1916 to have fruit trees planted along highways and to continue naming farms as a means of aiding drivers in finding directions. In 1912 the club contributed $807 for improvements in the Delhi Road. (2)

The March issue of the American Motorist magazine reminded readers of these accomplishments and more. The magazine added that the club was primarily responsible for getting local governments to eliminate the "lakes" in country roads by installing culverts. By having telephone and telegraph lines along the principal roads, the best route was indicated for travel. Principal street corners in Dubuque had signs indicating which roads to take to reach other major cities. The Dubuque Automobile Club was also responsible for many 'School: Careful' signs. (3)


In the May 3, 1939 issue of The Dubuque Motorist announced that for the last ten years the Dubuque Automobile Club had been the fourth largest A.A.A. Motor Club in the United States in proportion to car registrations out of the 750 independent A.A.A. Motor Clubs. The Club offered to members touring information including maps, road and detour information, emergency road service and answers to local questions.

The 1937 Dubuque Consurvey Directory listed 876 Locust.



1. "National Unit 50 Years Old," Telegraph Herald, March 5, 1952, p. 6

2. Ibid.

3. "Local Automobile Club is Praised," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, March 9, 1915, p. 11