Caltrans History Preservation Committee

Department Logos & Mottos: A Brief History

[Division of Highways emblem]Division of Highways Seal

In 1924 the California Highway Commission adopted this seal. It later became the seal for the California Division of Highways, when the Division was established in 1927. This symbol has been known affectionately as the “Flying Tomato”.

The seal was designed by E.M. Muse of the department’s testing laboratory. He won a $25 prize for his design, besting engineers from several other units in the department. Mr. Muse’s explanation of the symbols used in the logo was as follows: the transit is the dominant symbol and typifies Science, the pick and shovel represent Labor, and the winged wheel represent Transportation and Speed. (The Library has a poster showing all of the 1921 contest entries.)

The Latin slogan on the seal, “Robur Directum Scientia Est via Fortunae”, has had many translations over the years. Below is a listing of some of these with links to the articles from department publications that discussed the suggested translation.

[Caltrans Logo]Caltrans Logo

In 1973, the Department of Public Works, Division of Highways was reorganized and transformed into the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). A new emblem, the "CT" logo was introduced. It was created by Caltrans graphic designer Dave Douglas.

An article describing the adoption of the logo as a new Departmental "signature" was printed in the Caltrans Administrative Services Newsletter, September 4, 1973.



Questions or comments about this Web site can be directed to the Caltrans History Preservation Committee, or to the Caltrans Transportation Library and History Center.


Last Updated: 10 February, 2012