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A Maximum of Good Results: Martin Dodge and the Good Roads Trains
Horatio S. Earle
Horatio S. Earle, born in 1855 in Vermont, moved in 1889 to Detroit, Michigan, where he was a businessman specializing in road-related activities: Earle Cycle Company, Genesee Gravel Company, the Good Roads Supply Company, and the Earle Equipment Company. He joined the LAW in 1896, becoming chief consul of the LAW's Michigan Highway Improvement Committee in 1898. As he traveled around the State speaking on good roads, he observed the difference between rural and urban audiences, as historian Kenneth Earl Peters explained:
It became apparent that city dwellers were saying "if the farmers want good roads, let them build them," while the farmers were saying "if the cities want good roads to use for their pleasure, let them build them." Trying to soothe each group, Earle stressed to rural audiences that the roads could be partially financed by cities, but when he addressed urban groups, he tended to soft-pedal this line of argument. [The Good-Roads Movement and the Michigan State Highway Department, 1905-1917, Ph.D. Thesis, University of Michigan, 1972, University Microfilms International, p. 19-22]
In October 1899, Earle became Chief Consul of the LAW's Michigan Division. In December 1899, he announced a contest to increase membership and promote good roads. The first Michigan city to recruit 200 LAW members would host an international good roads congress in July 1900. Port Huron won the contest and became the site of the First Annual LAW Festival and Good Roads Congress on July 2-5, 1900.
Earle asked Governor Hazen S. Pingree to appoint 1,000 delegates but the Governor declined because, as Peters put it, "he felt that the majority of Michigan people did not favor good roads." Peters explained where Earle turned for support:
Consequently Earle approached Martin M. Dodge, the director of the U.S. Office of Public Road Inquiry [sic], who eagerly sent special invitations to prominent good-roads advocates throughout the United States and Canada as well as to Michigan legislators, journalists, and local officials. [p. 23-24]
Peters described Earle's plan to attract all types of people, not just good roads advocates, to the congress:
In order to attract and win over such a diverse crowd of people, Earle scheduled for the event a variety of activities, ranging from bicycle races to automobile tests, athletic games, band concerts, vaudeville shows, fireworks, a carriage parade, and all-night smoker, speeches, and a banquet. [p. 24]
Although the festival had to be fun, it was designed "to dispel the belief that road builders were mere visionaries." Peters described how Earle helped to convey this idea:
Earle sought to establish the idea that with wise investment of money and modern techniques, men could build roads at a reasonable price. Earle sought to demonstrate his ideas through two devices-his good-roads train and the object-lesson road. On July 4 Earle hitched together the first good-roads train ever assembled. It consisted of a traction engine, a road roller, a sprinkler, dump wagons, and farm wagons, which were loaded with several hundred people riding to the festival's major event, the object-lesson road. This macadam road, financed through donations of equipment and materials from the Port Huron Engine and Thresher Company, was the first object-lesson road built in Michigan under the supervision of a road expert from the U.S. Office of Public Road Inquiry [sic]. [p. 25]
(Peters pointed out that, "Earle admitted that the credit for the train rightfully belonged to Maurice O. Eldridge" of the OPRI. [p. 25, footnote 10])
Dodge described the object-lesson road in his annual report for FY 1900. He had dispatched General Harrison to build the object-lesson road at the Port Huron festival:
The crushing plant and the road machine, kindly placed at the disposal of the Office by a road-machine company, were operated by Mr. J. M. Starkweather, who also had general supervision of the road. An enterprising engine and thrasher company supplied a traction engine, provided with extra wide wheels for rolling, a spreading wagon, and sprinkling cart, as well as otherwise materially aiding the enterprise, and it was largely due to the efforts of this company that the work was so successfully completed.
A special feature of the work was that the traction engine was used instead of horses to draw the road machine and dumping wagons, which plan proved very satisfactory. Thus, the traction engine served the treble purpose of furnishing power for the crusher, drawing the road grader, etc., and rolling the road . . . .
Part of the sample [road] had been completed and part was under construction when the convention met. Thus the delegates were afforded an opportunity to observe the methods and details of construction and to see the principles, taught by the road builders present, actually put into practice.
Dodge joined General Harrison on July 2 "and took general supervision of the work July 2, 3, and 4, making explanations of the work done there and in other parts of the country by this Office." Dodge also presided over the convention of July 3 and 4.
The results of this meeting, and especially the object-lesson road, of which there was about a mile built under the auspices of the Government, were so satisfactory that many applications were made to have similar work done at other places. [Annual Report, 1900, p. 289]
Peters concluded that Earle's "hard work yielded overwhelming success and tangible results," with hundreds of delegates from the United States and Canada:
Another important outcome was the adoption of the following bold resolutions: to call upon the United States government for liberal assistance in road building; to extend the powers of the Office of Public Road Inquiry [sic] so that it could develop educational campaigns and object-lesson roads in every state; to use convict labor for preparing road materials and building macadam roads. [p. 25-26]
When Dodge announced his selection of special agents for regions of the country, he granted Earle a 90-day appointment as a special agent of the OPRI for the Midwest at a salary of $500 plus expenses. [Peters, p. 27, footnote 14] Earle sought the appointment partly because he thought it would help his effort to win election to the State Senate where he planned to promote good roads:
As special agent Earle concentrated most of his efforts on publicizing, and educating the public about, good roads in Michigan. He primarily sought to achieve his purposes through good-roads conventions. The largest was in Saginaw on August 21-22, 1900. Martin Dodge wholeheartedly cooperated with Earle by sending a road engineer to supervise an object-lesson road, by ordering an assistant to negotiate with railroads for free transportation of machinery to the convention, and by offering to issue invitations. Although the convention was not as large as the one in Port Huron, hundreds of people attended, and the event was very successful primarily because of the . . . object-lesson road, which good-roads proponents hoped would persuade the farmers to join the crusade for better roads. [p. 27-28]
Dodge described the Saginaw work in his annual report for FY 1900:
About August 10 the work of actual construction was begun on the object-lesson road built south of the city of Saginaw. A distance of 8,017 feet was prepared, by properly grading first, then the crushed stone was put on in layers as usual and rolled, so that when the convention assembled on the 21st there was an opportunity to see the road in every stage of improvement, from the undisturbed earth at one end to the finished roadway at the other. The work was substantially a repetition of what we did at Port Huron, except that a longer distance was undertaken. [Annual Report, p. 289-290]
Again, Dodge joined General Harrison on August 18 "and remained until August 22 explaining the work." Dodge also presided over the Saginaw convention.
(In September 1900, Dodge appointed a new special agent for the Middle Division, State Senator James H. Stout of Menomonie, Wisconsin. Stout, who was elected to the State Senate in 1894, was a good roads advocate who had sponsored an ORI object-lesson road in FY 1899 in Menomonie. The "model road" proved itself in the rainy months, according to the Milwaukee Sentinel, which stated:
If there were such roads throughout the State, as there may be eventually if a systematic scheme of road construction is indorsed by the people, thousands of farmers will reap benefits that will be worth to them many times what they are assessed to help pay for the roads. As the assistant director of the Agricultural Department Bureau of Road Inquiry [Eldridge] said in a recent report: "The difference between good and bad roads is often equivalent to the difference between profit and loss." Anyone who observes the results attained by the Menomonie model road can appreciate the significance of this remark. [Quoted in Annual Report, 1900, p. 286])
On November 6, 1900, Earle won election to the State Senate, running almost entirely on a good-roads platform. Earle was also encouraged that voters elected an LAW member, Aaron T. Bliss, as Governor.
Although the new Governor would support good roads, Earle realized it was up to him to get good roads legislation through the legislature. In the 1901 legislature, Earle "perhaps made a pest of himself by using a rule that permitted him to make a good-roads speech on every bill." [Peters, p. 29] In May, he secured passage of a concurrent resolution calling on Governor Bliss to appoint a Michigan State Highway Committee. Governor Bliss signed the resolution and appointed the seven men Earle had recommended, including himself. The committee met the same day, May 21, and chose Earle to be chairman. [Peters, p. 31]
In February 1901, Earle had been elected president of the national LAW, but the organization was fading along with the Bicycle Craze as a result of the automobile. When Earle's term as president ended on December 6, 1901, he began to create an organization, which he called the American Road Makers, to carry on the fight for good roads that the LAW with its declining membership could no longer lead. Earle had chosen the name for his group because its acronym "ARM" meant that the association "will never lower its arm until its purpose, 'The Capital Connecting Government Highway' is attained, connecting every state capital with every other state capital, and every capital with the United States Capital-Washington."
Peters stated that, "Earle's plan to start the American Road Makers received prompt endorsement from Martin Dodge, who, like Earle, discerned that if the rapidly growing number of professional road builders and engineers could be effectively organized, better roads might emerge more quickly." Although Earle issued invitations to 200 people around the country to attend the organizational meeting, only four were present at the Cadillac Hotel in New York City when the American Road Makers was organized on February 12, 1902. [p. 33-34] Despite this inauspicious beginning, ARM would evolve into the influential American Road Builders Association, which was renamed the American Road and Transportation Builders Association in the 1970s.
In the OPRI's annual report for FY 1903, Dodge recalled the Saginaw object-lesson road built in 1900, "the longest piece of object-lesson road ever built in any one place by the Office of Public Roads Inquiries . . . it being nearly 2 miles in length." The road had, he explained, helped enact the State good roads law as well as encouraging Saginaw County to vote to expend $60,000 a year to improve its roads:
This new work was inaugurated on June 19, 1902, at a great meeting held in the city of Saginaw, after which a grand procession marched through the city about 2 miles out to the road where the actual work was begun. This procession was headed by the governor of Michigan and his staff, and the mayor and police force of Saginaw. Ground was broken for the new work by the governor. Governor Bliss, of Michigan, therefore, has the credit of being the first governor to put his hands to plow in this new and great work of road building by cooperation. The city of Saginaw, the county of Saginaw, the State of Michigan, and the United States Government were all represented at this meeting, and they all cooperated in producing the result. [p. 334]
On July 29-31, 1902, Earle and the State Highway Committee staged a 3-day exposition in Greenville. Dodge, who had helped plan the event during a visit with Earle in Detroit on June 13, issued invitations to influential people around the country. Peters noted that, "Earle received word on July 1 that Michigan railroads, which were vitally interested in obtaining better roads to and from their stations, would grant half-fare rates to persons traveling by train to the exposition." [p. 37] Over 25,000 people attended the event.
On July 30, Dodge addressed the convention on "Government Co‑operation in Object‑Lesson Road Work." He discussed the history of road building in the United States, including construction of the National Road, the era of toll roads, and the passing of responsibility for roads to counties and townships. That was sufficient in an earlier time, but now, the local road officer finds "himself deficient in skill and the proper kind of resources." Dodge summarized the work of the OPRI, including object-lesson roads and Logan Page's work in testing rock samples. In discussing object‑lesson roads in 1900 and 1901, he said, "In all of these cases the co‑operation has been very hearty on the part of the state, the county, the municipality in which the work has been done, and the results have been very satisfactory and beneficial." Good Roads Magazine, August 1902, p. 3-6]
According to Peters, Earle was encouraged by the popularity of the object lesson roads built in Michigan to begin developing plans for another good roads train. It would "consist of an engine, several railroad cars containing current road building machinery, and a Pullman car for road-machinery operators and for good-roads experts, such as Martin Dodge and E. G. Harrison." Earle's plan was elaborate:
The train was to travel to twenty-five states, stopping at designated communities, where the road experts would give talks on good roads, and the machinery operators would construct object-lesson roads. According to Earle, the purpose of his good-roads train was to show the people what could be done toward building and improving roads by using the most scientific, modern machinery.
Earle began organizing the Earle Good Roads Train Company in June 1901, but planning lagged. Peters stated:
The train began to roll when financial backing came from many railroads, the Port Huron Engine and Thresher Company, the Acme Road Machinery Company, and individuals who offered free meals and lodging to passengers on the train. On May 5, 1902, the Pere Marquette Railroad even assured Earle that it would haul the good-roads train free of charge over company tracks, whenever Earle desired. Earle's good-roads train operated in Michigan for four weeks in 1901 and for nineteen weeks in 1902. [p. 38-39]
America's Highways 1796-1976 stated that neither Dodge nor the OPRI's road experts participated in the Michigan venture. [p. 50] The book did not explain their absence, but by then the OPRI was involved in a more grandiose enterprise.
Good Roads Trains
Although Earle had employed a railroad to promote good roads, Colonel Moore is usually credited with conceiving the Good Roads Trains. America's Highways: 1776-1976explained:
In 1901 he conceived the idea of a traveling good roads show that would cover the country, educating the public on the advantages of improved highways, very much in the manner of the circuses and the popular Chautauqua shows [a traveling series of lectures]. He persuaded the road machinery companies to help with this project by donating their latest models, along with trained operators, to run them. [p. 48]
He asked the railroad companies to help transport the men, exhibits, and equipment, and asked Dodge for his support:
[He] approached Director Dodge to give Government sanction to the idea by providing a road expert to lecture on roads and supervise demonstrations of roadbuilding. Dodge was unable to help because his budget was already committed to other work; however, when the Association offered to pay the expert's salary and expenses, he agreed to participate and designated Special Agent Charles T. Harrison of New Jersey [the son of General E. G. Harrison, who had died in February 1901 at the age of 73] as the OPRI's representative. [p. 48-49]
The Good Roads Trains increased the impact of the object-lesson roads by allowing the free use of the latest equipment, generating publicity over a wide area, providing a forum for meetings, and promoting formation of State good roads organizations and adoption of State road laws.
In preparation for the Good Roads Trains, the NGRA used an advance publicity campaign to promote attendance, sent agents ahead of the train to organize conventions, and arranged for donations of labor and materials for the object-lesson road construction that served as the cornerstone of each stop. After construction was underway, Harrison would conduct a Good Roads Day for the farmers and local officials. He would explain the new construction as he worked on it, lecture on the importance of drainage, and explain stone surfacing and road maintenance. [p. 47-49]
These trains, which were popular and effective, were an example of the close relationship between the early good roads movement and the railroads. Because highways were viewed as feeders bringing people and goods to the railroads, officials of the railroad companies saw road improvements as being in their own interest. (This relationship lasted until World War I, when heavy demands exceeded railroad capacity, giving truckers an incentive to expand their range in intercity shipments. Only in the 1980's and 1990's would the relationship be revived, thanks largely to the container/piggyback revolution.)
The first Good Roads Train ran on the Illinois Central line from Chicago to New Orleans (April 20 to July 27, 1901), with Dodge along most of the way. (He left the train at Jackson, Mississippi, where Assistant Director Eldridge took his place for the remainder of the trip.) The nine-car train stopped in 16 cities and five States. In the annual report for 1901, Dodge explained:
The "good-roads train" visited the following places, where sample roads, varying in length from a half mile to 1½ miles, were built and where the officers of the National association organized permanent local and State associations: Flossmoor, Ill.; New Orleans, La.; Natchez, Vicksburg, Greenville, Clarksdale, Oxford, Granada, McComb City, and Jackson, Miss.; Jackson, Tenn.; Louisville, Hopkinsville, and Owensboro, Ky.; Cairo and Effingham, Ill.
About 20 miles of earth, stone, and gravel roads were built and 15 large and enthusiastic conventions were held. The numbers attending these conventions and witnessing the work were very large, in nearly every instance more than a thousand persons and in some cases 2,000 persons being present. Among the attendants were leading citizens and officials, including governors, mayors, Congressmen, members of legislatures, judges of the county court, and road officials. This was undoubtedly the most successful campaign ever waged for good roads, and the expedition has been of great service to the cause, and especially to the people of the Mississippi Valley. [p. 243]
In the annual report for 1902, Dodge printed comments from good roads associations regarding the roads built during the first Good Roads Train. One was from Harry H. Hodgson, Secretary of the Louisiana State Good Roads Association. Although nothing had been done to the earth road since it had been built in the city, "it was so built that it is in very good order." Further, "the piece of road built had greatly benefited several road committees in our parishes, resulting in their making a number of improvements." Similarly, J. W. Ross, Secretary of the Goods Roads Association in Natchez, reported that the road built in that city "had done a vast amount of good," and had inspired the Board of Supervisors. As a result, "we think in time that every road in this county will be put in magnificent condition."
Stokely D. Hays, President of the Tennessee Good Roads Association in Jackson, reported the object-lesson road "is in good condition and is well constructed." It had inspired "a general demand for road improvement in this county." He predicted: "I think it will not be a very great while before there will be a concerted effort on the part of the citizens of the county looking to the construction of better roads throughout the county."
In Louisville, OPRI's Harrison had built a mile of earth road from Elwood Avenue to the country club. It "has awakened interest in the movement throughout the state," reported J. C. Van Felt, Secretary of the Kentucky Good Roads Association in Louisville. Since then, "the country club has had it macadamized, and it is as pretty a road as one could wish to see." Because of the interest stirred by the Good Roads Train, the 4-year old association was "doing more for the cause than ever before." [p. 310-311]
The second Good Roads Train ran from Chicago to Buffalo, New York, later that same year. In the 1902 annual report, Dodge said:
During the month of September, 1901, another good-roads train, organized in Chicago and carrying all kinds of modern road-building machinery, proceeded over the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad to Buffalo, where the machinery was used in the construction of samples of macadam and earth roads on Grand Island, near Buffalo. The good-roads train was on exhibition on the grounds of the Pan-American Exposition during the session of the International Good Roads Congress. This was the first international good roads congress ever held which was attended by European delegates. It was attended by prominent statesmen and officials, road experts, and engineers from various parts of this and other countries, and the results, it is believed, will prove far-reaching in their benefits. [p. 309]
Southern Railway Good Roads Train
Of all the Good Roads Trains, the Southern Railway Good Roads Train was "the most spectacular project," as Seely put it. [Book, p. 18] It left Alexandria, Virginia, on October 29, 1901, and continued its work until April 5, 1902 (with a December break for the holidays). It cost the Southern Railway $80,000.
Dodge's annual report for 1902 summarized the tour:
During the intervening time it traveled over the Southern Railroad and its branches through the States of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama, a distance of 4,037 miles, stopping at eighteen different places and building as many object-lesson roads. The following places were visited, where conventions were also held: Winston-Salem and Asheville, N.C.; Greenville and Chattanooga, Tenn.; Birmingham, Mobile, and Montgomery, Ala.; Atlanta and Augusta, Ga.; Greenville, Columbia and Charleston, S.C.; Lynchburg, Danville, Richmond, and Charlottesville, Va.
The governors of several of the States issued proclamations announcing the arrival of the train and urging the people to witness the object-lesson work and to participate in the deliberations of the conventions held. These conventions were addressed by the governors, United States Senators, Representatives in Congress, generals, professional and business men, farmers, and others. The addresses were of an unusually high class and were very instructive, as they covered almost every phase of the road question . . . .
This Southern Railroad good roads train was equipped with twelve carloads of the most modern and improved road-building machinery, as well as two officers' cars for the road experts and officials of this Department and the National Good Roads Association, and one camp car for the laborers. The train, its equipment, and operating force were all supplied by the railroad company, while the road-building machinery and the expert operators of the same were furnished by the road-machine companies. In all cases the materials and common labor for the road work were supplied by the local authorities. The Government furnished instruction and scientific information, expert road builders, and didactic literature pertaining to the work. At all the places visited samples of stone, gravel, chert, earth, or shell roads were built, so adapted to local conditions as to show the best and most economic use of the available materials. [p. 309-310]
The train carried the following machinery:
Road graders: One Western road grader, two elevating road graders, three steel Champion road machines, and one Buckeye road machine.
Engines: One 25-horsepower portable engine and boiler, and one 18-horsepower portable engine and boiler.
Rock crushers and elevators: One No. 4 Champion mounted crusher, one No. 4 stationary Champion crusher, one Aultman mounted crusher with elevator, one 18-foot elevator with mounted bin, and one 10-foot elevator with bin.
Wagons and carts: One 1½-yard Aurora wagon, 2 Champion distributing carts, one iron-axle cart, one dump wagon, and one sprinkler.
Road rollers: One Buffalo-Pitts 10-ton double-engine road roller, one 6½-ton horse roller, and one 3½-ton horse roller
Miscellaneous: Eight wheel scrapers; seven plows of different styles and sizes; two disk harrows; seven drags; picks, shovels, screens, etc. [Road Conventions in the Southern States, OPRI Bulletin No. 23, 1902, p. 10]
Dodge, Assistant Director Eldridge, and other OPRI officials accompanied the train, which traveled in a westerly loop via Tennessee to Mobile, Alabama, before returning to Virginia on an easterly loop. Participants constructed a total of 12 to 15 miles of roads using earth, gravel, sand and clay, chert, shell, and macadam, depending on the availability of the material.
OPRI Bulletin No. 23 discussed the object-lesson roads built at each stop, described the conventions, and printed many of the speeches delivered along the way. From the bulletin and articles in Good Roads Magazine, a sampling of the activities at each of the stops can be provided as a way of exploring the concerns of a time when the United States was still trying to decide whether to commit to the automobile and the road.
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
The train reached the first stop, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on October 30. The road building equipment, all of it new, was put to its first use on North Liberty Street, just beyond the city limits. The OPRI bulletin explained the project:
About 1,000 feet of macadam road and 400 to 500 feet of earth road were made. The soil for the roadbed and the other materials at hand were well adapted for the purposes. The subgrade had previously been prepared by convict labor for a width of about 34 feet and was comparatively level. The road graders were utilized in preparing the foundation for the stone work, and the steam roller was used both on the foundation and in preparing the macadam. The foundation stone was composed of crushed granite shipped by rail from the Mount Airy (N.C.) quarries. This foundation was of a uniform depth of about 5 inches. Excellent local trap rock was crushed by the good roads crushing plant and used for the second layer and for finishing. A most excellent piece of macadam was constructed, demonstrating the use of local material in preference to that shipped in by rail. In making the earth road the elevating grader, road machine, and roller were used.
The bulletin added:
Since the visit of the good roads train the local authorities have largely extended the work done there, and plans have been made for building in Forsyth County a large amount of modern macadam road as well as improving many earth roads. [Bulletin 23, p. 11]
Governor Charles B. Aycock opened the 2-day convention by thanking participants in the Southern Railway Good Roads Train "for what they are doing for good roads." In his brief remarks, he stressed the link between good roads and education, saying, "When our roads are good we can do something for the country schools, and that is what I hope for." [Bulletin 23, p. 12]
U.S. Senator Furnifold M. Simmons, a lawyer who served in the Senate from 1901 to 1931, told the convention about the political reality that a way must be found to convince the majority of people in a community to support good roads "for the roads must be built by some system of taxation." He continued:
You ask why the legislators do not pass the needed laws anyway. Well, you may say what you please, but the fact stands that the average man who goes to the legislature or to Congress will not vote for a measure that he knows the majority of the people who elected him are opposed to.
He hoped that in North Carolina, at least, "we can discuss such questions as this without consideration for one's political fortunes."
Senator Simmons agreed with the Governor about the link between good roads and education:
Good roads and education go together. Educate the people and there is no power in the world that will keep them from building roads. Build roads and you can not keep the people from becoming educated. [Bulletin 23, p. 12-13]
Delegates organized the Northwestern Good Roads Association of North Carolina, with headquarters in Winston-Salem. They also adopted resolutions endorsing the work of the Good Roads Train and the OPRI. [Bulletin 23, p. 15]
Asheville, North Carolina
The train was in Asheville from November 4 to 7. As at Winston-Salem, convicts were employed to construct a sample road at Emma outside the city. It included 1,000 feet of earth road and 1,000 feet of macadam. The convention lasted 2 days, November 6 and 7, resulting in formation of the Appalachian Good Roads Association. [Bulletin 23, p. 15]
The bulletin printed only one of the speeches. Mr. M. V. Richards, Agent of the Land and Industrial Development of the Southern Railway, assured the convention:
I express the opinion that this good roads movement will be carried forward until the fullest measure of benefit will be received therefrom by the people of the South. There is growing demand for better roads; the present decade will pass into memory as the good roads age. [Bulletin 23, p. 17]
The Southern Railway Good Roads Train reached Greeneville on November 8 and stayed through the 12th. Inclement weather delayed the object-lesson work on the road from the village limits to Tusculum College. (According to the college's Web site: "Founded in 1794, Tusculum College is the oldest college in Tennessee, the twenty-eighth oldest college in the nation, and the oldest coeducational institution affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA).") Despite delays, the team prepared 1,000 feet of foundation for the crushed stone road. The account noted:
A fund for the improvement of this road to Tusculum College, a distance of 3 miles, has already been raised, and it is believed that the object-lesson road work at Greeneville will inaugurate not only scientific and practical methods of construction, but the building of many miles of roads out of the excellent limestone rock which is so plentiful in that county. [Bulletin 23, p. 18]
The 2-day convention, November 11 and 12, featured speeches by a representative of Mayor Mitchell, J. B. Bewly of the Greene County Commissions, Colonel Moore, and Representative Walter P. Brownlow, who spoke on the road history of east Tennessee, as well as the importance of securing improved highways. However, the ORI Bulletin reprinted only one of the addresses, Assistant Director Eldridge's illustrated lecture on "The Highways of Europe and America." Eldridge presented versions of this popular speech, using stereopticon images, on many occasions. As reproduced in the bulletin, Eldridge began:
When we review the pages of history back to the dawn of civilization we find that the first promoters of art and science, commerce and manufacture, education and government were the builders of enduring highways.
He cited ancient examples, beginning with Memphis, the first capital of unified Egypt dating to about 3100 B.C., and Babylon, the ruins of which are in Babil Province, Iraq, about 55 miles south of Baghdad. He said that "the two most ancient centers of civilization . . . were connected by a commercial and military highway." After discussing roadbuilding in modern England, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and other countries, he turned to the history of roads in the United States. He described the National Road built in the early 19th century, as well as more recent efforts. Eldridge concluded:
For beauty, grandeur, and magnificence our mountain scenery can not be surpassed, but it is unfortunate that so much of it is practically inaccessible to the lovers of nature. Except in a few isolated spots like this [ Colorado along the Ouray and Silverton Toll Road, shown in the illustration he used] or the Yellowstone Park it is far more pleasant for wealthy Americans to spend their summers traveling through Europe, where good roads abound. By the construction of good roads Switzerland has been made "the pleasure ground of Europe," but if we should add good roads to all our other attractions and advantages over foreign countries we could turn the tide of pleasure seekers and make our country not only a garden spot but the pleasure ground of the whole world. [Bulletin 23, p. 19-24]
(Comments such as this were common at the time and would coalesce into the "See America First" movement over the next decade.)
The East Tennessee Good Roads Association was organized "to cooperate with the State association, the national association [i.e., the NGRA], and the Office of Public Road Inquiries." Delegates adopted resolutions thanking the NGRA, OPRI, and the Southern Railway Company "for their presence and assistance." Other resolutions called attention to the importance of the Good Roads Movement, demanded the opportunity to vote on issuing road bonds, and promised "redoubled efforts along the lines mapped out by the convention." [Bulletin 23, p. 24]
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