Last Minute Changes In The Motorcade Route?

Jim Files languishing away in an Illinois prison for the attempted murder of two police officers started the ball rolling again. A while back promoter, Bob Vernon, taped Jim's confession. Files a.k.a. Sutton claims he WAS the Grassy Knoll assassin. Additionally, to prove his contention that he was a Chicago mob insider he makes the following assertion:

"Johnny Rosselli got in the car with me and we started back to Dallas. He opened the envelope up and there was identification in there for Secret Service people and we had a map in there of the exact motorcade route that would take it through Dealey Plaza. Johnny Rosselli said well they only made one change. That was when he informed me they was coming off of Main Street on to Elm or on to Houston there...they made the zig-zag, the little turn that they should have never made. But when they made that, it was the only change in it."

For years there has been talk about the "last minute" change in the motorcade route. Unfortunately for some "researchers" such change never happened, and ANYONE who claims it did happen is either guilty of poor fact checking at best or fraud at worst.

So where did it all start? I'd have to put my money on Jim Garrison.

If you check the index of Garrison’s book On The Trail Of The Assassins you discover the following:

        Motorcade, President’s

                Last-minute changes in route of,

                        101-103, 176, 221, 280, 288, 318

Furthermore on page 101 we find "I (Garrison) turned the paper (Dallas Morning News) around facing his (Frank Klein's) way so that he could read the diagram of the motorcade. It covered almost five-sixths of the front page."

Five-sixths of the front page represents 83% of the page leaving little room for anything but the masthead. This is a clear over exaggeration on Garrisons part as will be shown later.

Actually the detail of the motorcade route was discussed in both The Dallas Morning News and Dallas Times Herald starting Tuesday, November 19th. Unfortunately for the likes of Garrison and later Files they relied solely on The Dallas Morning News diagram. The News most likely became a victim of over reporting. They created and error which lead to confusion. Confusion that is for those who lack research ability. The Warren Commission disseminated some of the facts in their report, but since they often got many things wrong, I will leave material portions of that report to the end. I will limit consideration to the actual newspaper articles and maps. 

  • Dallas Morning News Tuesday, November 19, 1963 ~ page 1

Luncheon Sponsors Ponder Where To Seat Yarborough by Carl Freund

"The route of the President’s motorcade between Love Field and Downtown Dallas had not been decided late Monday*, but the motorcade appeared certain to move west down Main Street between noon and 12:15 p.m."

* Freund was wrong as the route had been decided late Monday. It was too late for The Dallas Morning News to include in their Monday edition. This I call Freund mistake #1.

  • Dallas Morning News Tuesday, November 19, 1963 ~ page 1

Yarborough Seating Pondered by Dallas Morning News staff

"The News learned Monday evening that the presidential motorcade will travel 10 miles to the Trade Mart using this route:From Love Field to Mockingbird Lane, along Mockingbird Lane to Lemmon, then Lemmon to Turtle Creek, Turtle Creek to Cedar Springs, Cedar Springs to Harwood, Harwood to Main, Main to Houston, Houston to Elm, Elm* under the Triple Underpass to Stemmons Expressway and on to the Trade Mart."

* Here The Dallas Morning News staff got it right.

Now let's look at how The Dallas Times Herald handled the situation.

  • Dallas Times Herald Tuesday, November 19, 1963 ~ pages 1 & 13

Yarborough Gets JFK Table Spot by Jim Lehrer

"Route Revealed:

While the formal announcement of the details of the President’s Texas and Dallas trip was to be made in Washington at 4 p.m., a White House representative in      See TABLE on Page 13

Dallas released the motorcade route. From the airport, the President’s party will proceed to Mockingbird Lane to Lemmon and then to Turtle Creek, turning south to Cedar Springs.The motorcade will then pass through downtown on Harwood and then west on Main, turning back to Elm at Houston* and then out Stemmons Freeway to the Trade Mart."

* The Herald got the correct sequence also. So as of Tuesday morning both papers had it right! But wait - look what happened at The Dallas Morning News the next day, Wednesday November 20th.

  • Dallas Morning News Wednesday, November 20, 1963 ~ page 1

Yarborough Invited To Travel With JFK by Carl Freund

"A security car will lead the motorcade which will travel on Mockingbird Lane, Lemmon Avenue, Turtle Creek Boulevard, Cedar Springs, Harwood, Main and Stemmons Freeway."

So the following day Freund got it wrong again. He completely left out the jog down Elm ~ mistake #2. The end result was the Dallas Morning News staff artist probably used Freund's report to create the motorcade route diagram. While the News' unnamed artist had a total of three reports, two of them inaccurate, to deal with, The Dallas Times Herald's artist Pat Uthoff had only one report, and a correct one at that, upon which to base her drawing.

Dmns.jpg (101792 bytes)

From The Dallas Morning News, Friday November 22, 1963

Note the unnamed artist forgot to include the "jog" onto Houston and then to Elm.

A big thank you to professional photographer

Steve Mills

for cutting the newspaper images down to size for quick loading on this page

Press the newspaper screen shot for a larger image ~ Use your "back" button to return to this page!

I’ve included a portion of the area around the diagram to refute Garrison’s assertion on page 101 of On The Trail Of The Assassins that the ". . . diagram of the motorcade. [It] covered almost five-sixths (or 83%) of the front page."

Dths.jpg (171612 bytes)

From The Dallas Times Herald, Thursday November 21, 1963

Here the artist, Pat Uthoff, has plainly included the Houston to Elm section.

Press the newspaper screen shot for a larger image ~ Use your "back" button to return to this page!

Dthdetls.jpg (84560 bytes)

Garrison mentions The Dallas Morning News map while completely avoiding any reference to both papers' print articles of the route or the Times Herald's map reproduced above and shown in greater detail below. If Files was the mob's "advance man" why did he sit idly by while Rosselli told him "they only made one change." Files should have displayed the articles the minute Rosselli arrived in Dallas. Are we expected to believe both mobsters missed the map in the Times Herald? These two assassins, representing the Chicago mob and in Texas for their most important assignment both figuratively and historically, show up and check one source of information on their primary target's route through town!

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Copyright 1998 by David B. Perry    All rights reserved

For Informational Purposes Here Are Relevant Portions of the

Warren Report

After the selection of the Trade Mart as the luncheon site, Lawson and Sorrels met with Dallas Chief of Police Jesse E. Curry, Assistant Chief Charles Batchelor, Deputy Chief N. T. Fisher, and several other command officers to discuss details of the motorcade and possible routes. The route was further reviewed by Lawson and Sorrels with Assistant Chief Batchelor and members of the local host committee on November 15. The police officials agreed that the route recommended by Sorrels was the proper one and did not express a belief that any other route might be better. On November 18, Sorrels and Lawson drove over the selected route with Batchelor and other police officers, verifying that it could be traversed within 45 minutes. Representatives of the local host committee and the White House staff were advised by the Secret Service of the actual route on the afternoon of November 18

The route impressed the agents as a natural and desirable one. Sorrels, who had participated in Presidential protection assignments in Dallas since a visit by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936, testified that the traditional parade route in Dallas was along Main Street, since the tall buildings along the street gave more people an opportunity to participate. The route chosen from the airport to Main Street was the normal one, except where Harwood Street was selected as the means of access to Main Street in preference to a short stretch of the Central Expressway, which presented a minor safety hazard and could not accommodate spectators as conveniently as Harwood Street. According to Lawson, the chosen route seemed to be the best.

It afforded us wide streets most of the way, because of the buses that were in the motorcade. It afforded us a chance to have alternative routes if something happened on the motorcade route. It was the type of suburban area a good part of the way where the crowds would be able to be controlled for a great distance, and we figured that the largest crowds would be downtown, which they were, and that the wide streets that we would use downtown would be of sufficient width to keep the public out of our way.

Elm Street, parallel to Main Street and one block north, was not used for the main portion of the downtown part of the motorcade because Main Street offered better vantage points for spectators.

To reach the Trade Mart from Main Street the agents decided to use the Stemmons Freeway (Route No. 77), the most direct route. The only practical way for westbound traffic on Main Street to reach the northbound lanes of the Stemmons Freeway is via Elm Street, which Route No. 77 traffic is instructed to follow in this part of the city. Elm Street was to be reached from Main by turning right at Houston, going one block north and then turning left onto Elm. On this last portion of the journey, only 5 minutes from the Trade Mart, the President’s motorcade would pass the Texas School Book Depository Building on the northwest corner of Houston and Elm Streets. The building overlooks Dealey Plaza, an attractively landscaped triangle of 3 acres. From Houston Street, which forms the base of the triangle, three streets— Commerce, Main, and Elm—trisect the plaza, converging at the apex of the triangle to form a triple underpass beneath a multiple railroad bridge almost 500 feet from Houston Street. Elm Street, the northernmost of the three, after intersecting Houston curves in a southwesterly arc through the underpass and leads into an access road, which branches off to the right and is used by traffic going to the Stemmons Freeway and the Dallas-Fort Worth Turnpike.

The Elm Street approach to the Stemmons Freeway is necessary in order to avoid the traffic hazards which would otherwise exist if right turns were permitted from both Main and Elm into the freeway. To create this traffic pattern, a concrete barrier between Main and Elm Streets presents an obstacle to a right turn from Main across Elm to the access road to Stemmons Freeway and the Dallas-Fort Worth Turnpike. This concrete barrier extends far enough beyond the access road to make it impracticable for vehicles to turn right from Main directly to the access road. A sign located on this baffler instructs Main Street traffic not to make any turns. In conformity with these arrangements, traffic proceeding west on Main is directed to turn right at Houston in order to reach the Dallas-Fort Worth Turnpike, which has the same access road from Elm Street as does the Stemmons Freeway.

And later in the text we discover:

As the date for the President’s visit approached, the two Dallas newspapers carried several reports of his motorcade route. The selection of the Trade Mart as the possible site for the luncheon first appeared in the Dallas Times-Herald on November 15, 1963. The following day, the newspaper reported that the Presidential party "apparently will loop through the downtown area, probably on Main Street, en route from Dallas Love Field" on its way to the Trade Mart. On November 19, the Times-Herald afternoon paper detailed the precise route :

From the airport, the President’s party will proceed to Mockingbird Lane to Lemmon and then to Turtle Creek, turning south to Cedar Springs.The motorcade will then pass through downtown on Harwood and then west on Main, turning back to Elm at Houston and then out Stemmons Freeway to the Trade Mart.

Also on November 19, the Morning News reported that the President’s motorcade would travel from Love Field along specified streets, then "Harwood to Main, Main to Houston, Houston to Elm, Elm under the Triple Underpass to Stemmons Freeway, and on to the Trade Mart." On November 20 a front page story reported that the streets on which the Presidential motorcade would travel included "Main and Stemmons Freeway." On the morning of the President’s arrival, the Morning News noted that the motorcade would travel through downtown Dallas onto the Stemmons Freeway, and reported that "the motorcade will move slowly so that crowds can ‘get a good view’ of President Kennedy and his wife."