The Utah Automobile Dealers Association (UADA) will induct W.D. "Bill" Rishel into the UADA Hall of Fame Thursday, Jan. 26, at the opening ceremonies of the 1989 Utah Auto Show.
Rishel was "a pioneer on wheels in the early years of the 20th century," reported Preston Kearsley, UADA president. "He blazed new trails, recording them on maps so others could follow. In vision and size, he looms a towering figure in the highway and auto history of the West."Rishel organized the first Utah Automobile Dealers Association and worked with dealers in a mutual effort to promote better roads, better cars and better maps. He also prepared maps and logs of advice and information that were the forerunners of the American Automobile Association's "triptiks."
The headlines of the Salt Lake Tribune on Aug. 5, 1911, read, "Pathfinder Car Maps Utah Auto Routes," with the story of Rishel's early tours around the West in the Tribune Pathfinder. Chopping his way over tree stumps, digging through sand pits and shoveling into dugways, Rishel drove the first automobile to the west entrance of Yellowstone Park.
Rishel led the battle for the location of the transcontinental highway through Salt Lake City and was responsible for the concept of Salt Lake City as the hub of Western highways. In the 1930s, Rishel promoted the Bonneville Salt Flats as "The Birthplace of Speed."
A book about Rishel by his daughter, Virginia Rishel, was published in 1983 by Howe Brothers of Salt Lake City and Chicago. It is titled "Wheels to Adventure, Bill Rishel's Western Routes." In the preface, she wrote:
"I grew up with the story of W.D. (Bill) Rishel, because he was my father. My mother died when I was six, and since I wan an only child, he began taking me on some of his easier automobile pathfinding trips as soon as I was old enough.
"Dressed as my father was in the sports garb of the time - knickers, brogues, a short cardigan sweater, and a visored cap - I would sit alongside him and hold his compass, his aneroid for measuring altitude, and the big drawing board on which he was etching out his maps."
When Rishel died in 1947, it was said of him in a Tribune editorial, "Rarely does a man have a chance to devote a lifetime to a single line of endeavor. Rarely is a man permitted to see the results of his early activity bring such widespread benefits. Even more rarely can a man, who was never in an official position, leave on a great state the imprint of his work, which will be useful for many decades to come, and to thousands of people who will never hear his name."