A Maximum of Good Results: Martin Dodge and the Good Roads Trains
Martin Dodge's Later Years
After leaving office, Dodge remained in the Washington area, living at 1513 O Street, NW. He had purchased land in Prince George's County, Maryland, where he built a home in 1903, but the O Street address remained his primary residence. Naming his property Dodge Park, he reserved a portion for his family and developed homes on the remainder for sale. Dodge Park is still shown on State maps in the Glenarden area near the intersection of U.S. 50 and State Route 202 ( Landover Road), not far from the Capital Beltway (I-95/I-495). According to the Geauga County Historical Society, Dodge "spent the remaining years in study and real estate operations in and around Washington."
While pursuing business activities, Dodge retained his interest in good roads, appearing for speeches and congressional testimony as late as the 1920's, but initially in conjunction with the NGRA. On September 25 and 26, 1905, he was in Cincinnati for a convention sponsored by the Cincinnati Associated Organizations in conjunction with the NGRA. He was in Hamilton, Ohio, on September 27, 1905, for a convention sponsored by the NGRA, and in Springfield, Ohio, for another NGRA convention, this one in cooperation with the Commercial Club. Dodge addressed the convention on the "National Good Roads Movement." The NGRA sponsored conventions in other Ohio cities with Dodge in attendance through October.
On November 8 and 23, Colonel Moore wrote to Powers, the editor of Good Roads Magazine, regarding the organization's future. The NGRA executive board had met on November 8, but the absence of a quorum prevented some unspecified business from being conducted. Nevertheless, the board decided not to hold the NGRA's annual convention in St. Louis, where the organization was based in the Laclede Building:
It was decided not to hold the National Convention in St. Louis this year, as the question of raising the funds to meet the necessary expenses is a most important one and it is believed the funds cannot be raised in St. Louis at this time. In the last two years St. Louis has raised $10,000 to meet the expenses of holding two great National and International Good Roads Conventions. It is not considered just that St. Louis should raise the funds to pay the expenses of all the National Conventions.
Moore's November 23 letter recounted the election of officers for the NGRA on November 15. Moore would remain president. Arthur C. Jackson of Damariscotta, Maine, was elected secretary in place of Colonel Richardson. Colonel Moore predicted that "in 1906, this association will enter upon the most extensive campaign of education for good roads that has ever been inaugurated in the United States. ["The National Good Roads Association," Good Roads Magazine, December 1905, p. 844]
Colonel Richardson submitted his resignation from the NGRA in a letter to NGRA members dated December 20, 1905. The letter began:
Not feeling myself in harmony with the plans, methods and policies of President W. H. Moore in the management of the National Good Roads Association, I herewith, through the Good Roads Magazine, tender my resignation as secretary of said Association, to take effect January 1st, 1906.
He indicated that he would continue to support the cause of good roads, emphasizing that he believed the Federal Government should play a growing role:
It is a subject for the General Government, as well as for the States. The roads must be classified into National, State, and County, and their cost, construction and maintenance apportioned according to classification.
We must break away from the common conclusion that the roads are solely for the agricultural districts. All interests, commercial, industrial and agricultural, must unite under the instrumentality of the general and state governments to secure such a system of public roads as this country demands. ["Resignation of R. W. Richardson," Good Roads Magazine, January 1906, p. 40]
Dodge was in Columbus, Ohio, on January 16-17, 1906, for the first convention of the Ohio State Good Roads Association, which he had helped organize in October 1905. He had established a committee of 100 members (one from each of Ohio's 88 counties, plus 12 at large), each of whom committed to asking at least 10 other people to attend, with a goal of at least 1,000 participations. Attendance was somewhat less, but several hundred participants adopted resolutions supporting State aid ($500,000 for the present year, and $1 million in 1907), recommending the use of convict labor in manufacturing road materials; and urging that tax revenue for roads be distributed equitably among the towns and agricultural areas. They also approved a permanent organization for the association, with Dodge as president. [" Ohio State Good Roads Convention," Good Roads Magazine, January 1906, p. 41, and "The Ohio State Good Roads Association," Good Roads Magazine, February 1906, p. 126]
In mid-1908, Jackson replaced Colonel Moore as president of the NGRA. Martin Dodge was one of several vice-presidents of the organization, which continued to stage conventions, encourage the creation of local good roads associations, and promote direct Federal involvement in funding road projects. For example, the NGRA, during its National Good Roads Congress in Chicago on June 15, 1908, adopted a resolution stating, "That it is the sense of the congress that the general government of the United States should pay at least one-fourth of the cost of constructing and maintaining a permanent system of highways."
President Roosevelt, who was not running for reelection in November 1908, sent a letter to the convention that summarized themes from his 1903 speech in St. Louis. He explained that good roads were a hallmark of permanent greatness. By analogy, therefore, the United States, which had spread across the continent and will rise to "leadership such as no other nation has ever attained," should "have a right to demand that such a nation should build good roads." As he had said in 1903, he saw good roads as part of the effort to halt the flow of population to the cities:
It is a good thing to encourage in every way any tendency which will serve to check an unhealthy flow from the country to the city, and the building of good roads will minimize the isolation of the country districts, the same as the trolley, telephone and electricity. ["The National Good Roads Congress," Good Roads Magazine, July 1908, p. 243]
The April 1910 issue of Southern Good Roads contained Dodge's article on "State and National Aid in Good Roads Construction." Recalling the longstanding practice of requiring the people along a road to bear the cost of its construction and maintenance, he said:
It is a notable fact that there is no state or nation in the world that has ever produced a permanent system of highways so long as the burden of cost rested entirely on the local inhabitants. Accordingly new plans have been devised and introduced within the last ten years in many of the northern states, and a few southern states, whereby aid is brought to the local communities so as to lighten the burden . . . . This new plan which has superceded [sic] the old theory and practice to a greater or less extent in about half of the states of the Union, is known as the state aid plan, and has worked better than any other introduced up to the present time.
After discussing the State aid programs in several States, Dodge turned to the idea of national aid:
The improvement of our highways is a necessary and beneficial thing. It cannot be done by the local communities without aid. It would be unjust to call upon any state without great cities or concentrated wealth to give this necessary aid; and especially so when for every dollar of public money she has in her hand the general government is holding in trust, as it were ten times that amount which must be disbursed for public purposes, and will be disbursed by the representatives in congress as they are directed by their constituents.
He quoted Senator Daniel's comments in Lynchburg during the Southern Railway Good Roads Train regarding the "universal public benefaction" of good roads, adding:
But there should be added to it this further fact, that the road is not alone for the use of those living in the locality. Any person coming from any part of the country or of the world, for that matter, has an equal right with every other to use the highway, and we find that there is an increasing tendency on account of the introduction of automobiles to put the public highways to a more extended use than ever before.
He dismissed the constitutional argument against a Federal role as "a sort of tradition of the elders." With millions of dollars authorized for internal improvements other than highways, "the whole thing has become an exploded tradition." He was not talking about Federal construction:
It is not proposed, however, to revive the policy which prevailed when the national road was built, because that involved a change of jurisdiction from the state and local authority to the national authority . . . . But the proposition is to extend the principle of state aid . . . so as to include national aid to the extent of one third or possibly one half of the cost of construction.
He described how a national aid program would work:
The aid given by the general government should be of a contributory nature only[,] available, however, on condition that the states or civil subdivisions therein should contribute their proportion. The local authorities should initiate all proceedings. The matter of construction and expenditure of the money should remain as now with the state or local authorities, and the supremacy of the state in its legal jurisdiction should be upheld and remain.
He assured readers that there was "no difficulty and no mystery" about how the program would work. New York had "given a complete demonstration of how the matter works by co-operation of the state, and the county and the smaller sub-division adjacent to the road." This principle could be applied "without difficulty" by the United States. He concluded:
In a composite government like our own [,] concentration of authority is not desirable. Therefore the only feasible thing which is left us is cooperation and that should be our "cloud by day and our pillar of fire by night." Let us follow this and we shall come safely out of the wilderness of mud where we have wandered for more than three times forty years.
(The quoted phrase is from Exodus 13:21-22:
By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.)
The article concluded on page 7, which reprinted "Praise from High Source," namely Mr. Martin Dodge of Dodge Park, Maryland. On March 17, 1910, Dodge had written to the editor to praise the second issue of the magazine. Saying he was familiar with all the good roads magazines, "you have excelled the most excellent." Acknowledging that "most of the good roads magazines have not succeeded," he encouraged the editor by saying, "yours is so much superior that I feel sure its days will be 'long in the land.'"
On May 25, 1911, Dodge delivered a speech on similar themes to the Fourth National Good Roads Congress, held in Birmingham, Alabama. The Southern Railway Road Improvement Train operated in cooperation with the OPR had arranged to be in Birmingham for the congress. Better Roads described the train and its contents upon its arrival in the city:
The train contains models of all kinds of roads, models of road machinery, the finest photographs of roads which have ever been taken, lantern slides showing all kinds of roads, and a lecture room where talks on road building are delivered.
The train is in charge of W. J. Hurlbut, agent of the Land and Industrial Department from Washington, D.C., with D. H. Winslow and Mr. H. C. Wells, superintendents of road construction, United States Department of Agriculture, who are two of the best experienced experts in highway construction.
Since the train started from Mobile on the first day of May, twenty-two towns were visited and some thirty lectures given by the government experts, followed in each case by demonstration lectures in the exhibit car, where the models showing roads constructed of different materials are explained, together with exact working models of the most modern road-working machinery.
A fine series of stereopticon views showing many comparisons between good and bad roads, has been of great interest to the people in attendance. Thousands have attended the lectures and demonstrations during the tour of Alabama, and have expressed their determination to more strongly advocate the construction of permanent public highways in the future and to be built under the supervision of competent highway engineers. [June 1911, p. 77]
Page delivered an address on the progress of the good roads movement in the Southern States. (The speech was widely reprinted in good roads journals.) However, the congress was cosponsored by the NGRA, which was still a target for Page even without Colonel Moore at its head. On October 1, 1911, the Washington Herald reported that:
Declaring that his organization is not authorized, that his motives are actuated by his own interests, and that whatever funds he obtained would go into his own pockets, officials of the Office of Public Roads of the Department of Agriculture last night denounced President Arthur Jackson, of the National Good Roads Association, following the announcement from Chicago that the latter had started a campaign to raise $1,000,000.
The charges made against President Jackson came like a bombshell to the automobilists of this city. It is stated that post-office inspectors are already on his trail and are making determined efforts to run him down. This action was brought against him by the complaint of the public roads bureau and other associations . . . .
Director Logan Waller Page . . . stated last night that there was nothing in this plan that was not self-centered and purely in the interests of Mr. Jackson. "I have known of Mr. Jackson for some time," said Mr. Pages, "and I know his motives perfectly. His plan is intended to benefit no one but himself, and the funds are to go to no one but himself. I can assert that Mr. Jackson's plan of operation is not one that will meet with the approval of any law-abiding citizen."
Jackson's plan, announced during the National Good Roads Congress in Chicago, was that he would seek subscriptions for a road improvement fund from railroads, farmers, automobile companies, and manufacturers. He would open a national office in Chicago and operate the fund "along 'sane business' lines, and that the fund would be held at the disposal of the society as a whole," according to the newspaper article.
Page was skeptical even of the Chicago convention:
"We are reliably informed," said a high official of the bureau last night, "that the . . . convention in Chicago was attended by about three persons, and that none of these had any say in the outlining of the campaign. The same scheme was tried in Baltimore about three years ago without success. This man Jackson has used the publicity given the good roads movement as a means to further his own ends. He is the kind of a man, from all we can learn, who would stop at nothing. Most remarkable is the fact that his organization, which is unauthorized and in co-operation with no recognized organization, could be allowed to continue this long.
He visited Washington some time ago and reserved a room in the New Willard [hotel] to hold a meeting for the benefit of the good roads movement. As far as we have been able to learn, about three persons attended this meeting. This is about the caliber of all of his actions, and this is why complaint has been made against him." [Reprinted in "Is the National Good Roads Association a Fraud?" Southern Good Roads, October 1911, p. 15]
Dodge was at the Hotel Raleigh in Washington on December 11, 12, and 13, 1911, for formation of the United States Highway Association. The association was dedicated to promoting Federal-aid in highway construction through passage of legislation in the present session of Congress. A description of the meeting in Good Roads Magazine stated:
A bill providing for the appropriation of money by the federal government to be used in the construction of state and interstate roads was actually drawn up and was introduced in congress Dec. 12. It is stated that a request will also be made for the creation of a new federal department with a cabinet officer at its head, which will have under its direct supervision the highways, and electric and steam railroads of the country.
The bill called for a 50-50 Federal-State partnership "for the construction of State and interstate trunk-line highways in or through said State." Federal engineers were to survey, locate, and decide upon the trunk-line highways "cooperating with engineers of the State government." Further, the trunk highways "shall be selected as to connect with surveys through other States to form transcontinental highways."
Dodge addressed the group and was elected fourth vice-president. General T. Coleman du Pont, the well-known wealthy road advocate from Delaware, was elected president.
Also in December 1911, Better Roads carried a short article by Dodge titled "Senator Cullon's $148,000,000 Bill for Federal Aid to Road Building." Senator Shelby M. Cullom of Illinois was a former Governor of the State (1877-1883) who had served in the U.S. House of Representatives (1865-1871) and was elected to the Senate in 1882, serving in the position through March 1913. He was a long-time good roads enthusiast who had helped secure Senate passage of General Stone's 1892 bill to create a temporary National Highway Commission to formulate plans for a national school to teach road and bridge building, study good road building techniques in the States and foreign countries, prepare a road exhibit for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois, and make recommendations for a permanent commission. (The bill failed in the House, but the $10,000 appropriation in 1893 set the ORI in motion.)
Dodge explained that the saying "all roads lead to Rome" referred to the idea in ancient Rome that "all roads radiated from the golden mile post in the Roman Forum and in their conception and construction proceeded outward and not inward." Senator Cullum, Dodge said, "has imitated the Roman plan by introducing a bill in the United States Senate which provides for seven great national roads to radiate from the city of Washington to the various parts of the country."
The bill spelled out the destinations and intervening cities to be connected via "the most direct route practicable." It also gave each route a colorful name:
- Washington National Interstate Highway to Portland, Maine
- Roosevelt National Interstate Highway to Niagara Falls, New York
- Lincoln National Interstate Highway to Seattle, Washington
- Jefferson National Interstate Highway to San Francisco, California
- Grant National Interstate Highway to San Diego, California
- Monroe National Interstate Highway to Austin, Texas
- Lee National Interstate Highway to Miami, Florida
The proposal involved construction of macadam roads with a combined length of 12,000 miles. This mileage would pass through all but six States ( Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Oregon, Vermont, and Wyoming), but backers thought that slight deviations in routing could bring these States into the network as well. At an estimate of $12,000 a mile, the plan would cost $148 million. Revenue was to be raised by issuing bonds, with tolls collected to repay their cost and cover maintenance. ["Vast Road System," Better Roads, September 1911, p. 29-31]
Dodge, in December 1911 article, considered the names an important feature of the plan:
The rhetoricians speak of monuments more lasting than brass and more solid than marble, but there can be no more lasting monument than a great road built and used by a great people, that bears the name of any distinguished citizen.
The bill's features, he said, were even more remarkable because of who sponsored it, Senator Cullum:
He is a stand-pat republican senator of great length of service in the Senate, and much greater length in the public service . . . . During all these years of public service he and those most closely associated with him have not looked with favor upon legislation of the kind now introduced, and the fact that a conservative stand-pat republican senator would introduce this bill shows in the highest degree the trend of public sentiment which most certainly is strongly in favor of federal aid to road building. [Better Roads, December 1911, p. 38-39]
Senator Cullom introduced the plan at the request of former Representative J. Floyd King of Louisiana who said that he had the backing of prominent Members of Congress and businessmen "who are preparing to push the bill to passage as quickly as possible." Mr. King expected opposition from some quarters, but was "confident of overcoming it." [Better Roads, September 1911, p. 29-31] Nevertheless, Senator Cullom's bill, like the bill conceived by the United States Highway Association, went to committee and never emerged.
On January 16 and 17, 1912, the American Automobile Association sponsored the First Annual Federal Aid Good Roads Convention in Washington, D.C. Martin Dodge addressed the convention on January 17. He indicated that he had come to listen to the speakers, not to give a speech, but had asked for the opportunity after a delegate from Ohio had objected to adoption of a resolution in support of national aid. Governor Judson Harmon had appointed the delegate, Mr. O. C. Barber of Barberton, Ohio. Barber had said this was his first good roads convention and while he understood the value of good roads, he could not give advice as others have "because I do not know about many things they have discussed." However, he had little confidence in Washington:
I can't say today whether I would approve of governmental aid, of Federal aid to good roads. I think we ought to be independent enough in our respective homes, to get up spirit enough to build our roads . . . . So when you go home, don't trust too much on these fellows in Washington. They have kept us in trouble for many years and they will keep on.
Barber also had speculated on what would happen if a bill made its way through Congress:
I wouldn't undertake to get a bill through Congress that would be any relief to us whatever . . . . Why pass this money through an agency that has a faculty of distributing, according to their judgment I suppose, and some of it drops by the side? Go home and get our own county thoroughly enthused with improving your roads; go to your state and get them thoroughly enthused with improving the state roads and helping you to that extent, and I think you will accomplish more than as though you stayed in Washington for a year or two all together.
In response to these comments, Dodge said he had heard several speakers state that "the time for education in reference to public sentiment had passed away," but that was "news to me" especially in view of Mr. Barber's comments:
[In] view of the fact that the gentleman from Ohio, certainly an enterprising man and coming a long distance to participate here, should arise and say there was no advantage in such a plan; which would indicate that there are many yet who will stand in need of information about this question.
He reminded the delegates that he had been fighting for good roads for 20 years, beginning in his home State of Ohio, "and I entered into this vineyard when the harvest was great, but the laborers few." He reminded them of the bill "I prepared as director of the Good Roads Office" and introduced by Congressman Brownlow. "All of the other bills" spoken of during the convention "have been copies of it with certain other features, many of which clearly should be eliminated."
The great shift of people to cities that had occurred within the last generation involved a redistribution of wealth as well as population. Relying, as States and counties did, on the "ancient policy" of expecting rural residents to pay for good roads was insufficient:
Therefore, if we would secure the support and revenue of all of the people to build the roads for the use of all of the people, we must change our laws, as we have wisely done in many states, so as to raise a general fund, of money out of which we draw some, and possibly in some cases all of the revenue necessary to build up and maintain the roads.
The same was true at the national level. Although wealth and population were not concentrated in Washington, "the great public money of our people is concentrated and is in the hands of your members of Congress here." Where the States expend $1 per capita, Washington's expenditures amounted to $10 per capita. With such an "abundance of this fund," Dodge concluded, "we have the right to expect, and I think we have the necessity to demand that we should have a portion of this applied" to good roads.
Testifying on the Townsend Bill
On July 11, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson approved the Federal Aid Road Act establishing the Federal-aid highway program. As Dodge had advocated, it followed the State-aid pattern by providing Federal-aid funds to pay 50 percent of the cost of projects selected by the State highway agencies. In choosing the Federal-aid approach, Congress had rejected calls from many in the good roads movement for Federal construction of national highways. The agency he once headed was elevated to bureau status when it became the Bureau of Public Roads (BPR) on July 1, 1918.
The Federal-aid highway program floundered in its early years, partly because entry into World War I in April 1917 limited the availability of engineers, workers, and materials for road construction projects. The biggest structural problem, however, was that the law allowed the States to use Federal-aid funds on any "rural post road," defined as "any public road over which the United States mails now are or may hereafter be transported" in rural areas. With this broad definition, the States tended to spread the funds among their political subdivisions for short stretches of road rather than continuous cross-State roads connecting at the borders with roads in adjacent States. The definition also focused funds on farm roads-the limited network of interstate roads was rarely used for mail distribution; railroads carried the mail over interstate distances.
The program's difficulties gave renewed strength to advocates for Federal construction of national highways to support long-distance travel by automobile. However, with the 1919 amendment and the stabilization of the economy in the post-war period, the States began to make increasing progress in developing Federal-aid highway projects.
Senator Charles E. Townsend of Michigan, who had become Chairman of the Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads when Republicans gained control of both Houses of Congress in 1919, had introduced bills for Federal construction of interstate highways. He held hearings on the subject, but had not been able to build support for the measures in Congress. On April 29, 1921, Senator Townsend introduced S. 1355, which proposed establishment of a "post roads and federal highway commission" consisting of five members appointed by the President with Senate consent. The commission would establish an interstate system of highways following the most practicable routes. Agricultural, commercial, postal, and military needs would be considered in selecting the network.
By this point, the Senator has abandoned the idea of Federal construction. His new bill authorized $200 million for a 2-year period, with the funds apportioned to the States, which would construct the system. (He later reduced the funding to $100 million for 1 year, without the second year.) All contracts would be subject to a strengthened maintenance requirement. The Senator had added this provision in response to a call by new President Warren Harding. In a special address to Congress on April 12, 1921, just 5 weeks after taking office on March 4, he had said:
I know of nothing more shocking than the millions of public funds wasted in improved highways, wasted because there is no policy of maintenance. The neglect is not universal, but it is very near it. There is nothing the Congress can do more effectively to end this shocking waste than condition all Federal aid on provisions for maintenance. [Applause.] Highways, no matter how generous the outlay for construction, can not be maintained without patrol and constant repair. Such conditions insisted upon in the grant of Federal aid will safeguard the public which pays and guard the Federal Government against political abuses which tend to defeat the very purposes for which we authorize Federal expenditure.
The 1916 Act had provided that the States were responsible for maintaining roads built or improved with Federal-aid highway funds. If OPR determined that a road was not being properly maintained, the State had 4 months to restore the road. If the State highway agency did not do so, the OPR would not approve further projects in the State until the road was restored to a condition of proper maintenance. Townsend strengthened the maintenance requirement by providing that if a State did not restore the road, the Federal commission would take measures to restore the road and deduct the cost from the State's apportionment of Federal-aid highway funds.
On May 13, 1921, Chairman Townsend held a hearing on S. 1355. Martin Dodge was one of the witnesses summoned for the hearing. Chairman Townsend, Senator Kenneth McKellar of Tennessee, and Senator J. Thomas Heflin of Alabama questioned Dodge. When the Chairman asked Dodge for his views on the proposed legislation. Dodge replied:
I think one element or item has been overlooked or not fully considered, and that is that all the former legislation, both in the States and in the Nation, pertaining to this matter has always been based on the idea of giving aid and not on the idea of control. The idea of aid to road building did not originate in the Government here, but it originated in the different States, and it was after many years of experience that it was thought practicable to extend the same benefits in a general way to the States that the States, many of them, had already extended to the counties. The idea from first to last has been to bring aid to the counties, and it worked so well that we thought it was possible to extend that principle.
After discussing the history of roads in the United States, Dodge continued:
Twenty-three States adopted the State-aid plan under my jurisdiction, and nearly all of the principal States came in at that time. The others have been rather induced to come in later on account of the provision in the present law which requires them to have a State system by which they can participate. [The 1916 Act required each State that wanted to participate in the Federal-aid highway program to have a State highway agency capable of carrying out the provisions of the program.]
But what I want to say is that in all of these years I met all of the arguments-you speak of the arguments in Congress; I went into all of the States but three and held great conventions, built object-lesson roads and organized from the good-roads trains . . . . [In] those days we argued before conventions of taxpayers and not before conventions of tax eaters. Everybody that is now called upon to discuss the question, as far as I observe, is under pay. But we appealed to the God of Hosts, and the result of that appeal was as you expressed it; arguments were put forward in Congress, and finally the idea of giving aid prevailed, but not until it was abundantly assured that the aid given would not be coupled with control to be taken in the counties and in the State by national aid. I might say that I drew the original bill, the first ever introduced in the American Congress, introduced by Mr. Brownlow, of Tennessee, a Republican Member of Congress . . . .
And all the other bills that have ever been introduced in the American Congress have been copies or slight amendments. In the first instance several years elapsed before there were any amendments at all; it was an actual reproduction of the same bill. But we did not have enough votes to pass it, and we did not get enough until this matter had been argued and these assurances given that whatever was done was an aid to be given and not a burden to be borne. We could never have succeeded at all in gaining consent to go into the States to build roads except as we were wanted, and should never expend any money except under the direction as well as the selection of the State officers.
In response to a question from Senator McKeller, Dodge said that he considered the present system "a very wonderful success, and that its success rests upon the good will and cooperation of the people as a whole." He considered that S. 1355 was not a bill to provide aid, as was the 1916 Act, but a bill for construction, with nothing about aid. In many respects, he said, "it seeks to put a burden on the State instead of taking one off." He believed that "discontinuance of the present method would be very harmful in many respects."
Dodge was particularly concerned about the strengthened maintenance provision:
It was brought out to-day that the oldest roads built under Federal aid are only three years of age and do not show much wear nor call for any immediate necessity of repair. Now, we should have failed entirely in all of our endeavor had we coupled that one feature that you now emphasize so much in the matter of repair. Our main effort was to get the thing, to get the road, believing that when the benefits of the road were shown by an object lesson, the benefits would be recognized as so very great that the people would be well satisfied to bear any reasonable and necessary expense to build, extend, maintain, and improve them. Had we coupled our propositions with the further proposition that in addition to the cost there would be another element of repair it would have defeated the purpose of our endeavor.
He referred to an earlier witness who, in Dodge's words, said "it is just as wasteful to build too expensive roads as to build those that are less expensive." Noting that "we are not assured of any immunity against waste," he cited two large States:
[When] representatives of great States like New York and Pennsylvania plan for building roads that cost more than $60,000 a mile, planning to accommodate trucks 8 feet in width, with a proportional width of 30 feet for three to pass, it becomes very wasteful indeed. All these gentlemen are impressed-including the chairman, I presume-with the idea that the more money that is spent in such enterprises the less liability there is of waste, but that is by no means true.
He pointed out that the country abandoned the National Road "almost in the day of its glory" when railroads took its place for long-distance transportation. Dodge continued:
Now, I think that we are on the eve of other discoveries and the introduction of other means of transportation which would render these expensive roads a great loss-a much greater loss than is anticipated by those who are discussing this bill, who think the loss will be greater by reason of the fact that too perishable roads are liable to absorb money. We can not be certainly assured about this; but there is a fundamental error which has not been considered by the committee, I believe, in the whole system, and that is that the vehicle, which is put upon these roads weighs as much or more than it can carry.
This fundamental error was behind "this mistaken idea of building such heavy and such lasting roads with a view of carrying such heavy burdens over them." The fallacy was that "even with this great expenditure of money the cost of transportation over these roads, being built at Government expense, is not much lower than it was." He recalled his service in Ohio:
The first report that I made to the governor of Ohio was devoted partly to the consideration of the cost of transportation over the various means of transportation. Now, if we can not produce means of transportation that will cheapen the cost, then our labor is in vain; and there is such a very slight reduction in the cost at best, under prevailing conditions, that if you add to the tonnage the cost of construction-which, of course, nobody does add, but economically speaking we should-if you add those two items together, you find you have made a very small progress.
Although everyone assumed that if "we are going faster we are going cheaper," this was a "harmful error." He said:
I am perfectly confident that such roads as are recommended by the commissioners of the great States, and provided for by this bill . . . are being determined more with a view of through traffic and of high speed than of cheap traffic and the concentration of food to feed the already concentrated people . . . . It is said that this automobile truck will make a cheaper means. It will in some respects, but not at all for long distances . . . . We are now considering more or less the introduction of the air service, and many people think that the air service will furnish an even cheaper means of transportation for freight. I do not myself see how that is possible, but I do not deny its possibility.
He did have a suggestion on how to reduce freight costs to a lower construction cost than "any existent means"-steel track roads. He displayed photographs of his demonstration at the Omaha exposition. He had seen similar demonstrations "many times, but I have not seen it applied practically as I would like to see it, and as it ought to be applied." Senator Townsend asked if Dodge had an interest in the system. Dodge replied:
I am not interested in the method, and there is no patent on it, but it is a patent fact that we are not utilizing the powers that God and nature have put within our reach for the benefit of our people. We are not providing the cheap means of transportation for food products-and I do not want to be misunderstood; it is for food products and for short distances that I am contending.
He considered discussion of long-distance road transportation to be a waste because "long-distance transportation is well taken care of," namely by railroads. He explained:
But the long-distance transportation is a marvelous success, and it is the short distance, as I told you before, in which we have made practically no progress, and the reason why we have made no progress is partly the fact that we neglected it for more than 50 years, thinking that the other method would be sufficient and ample. But we have found out finally that it is not, and we have undertaken, and very beneficially, to introduce another means, and it is a marvelous success also; but that success is based upon the improvement of the roadbed in such a way as to bring it to the door of the farmer, or near, and so as to cover that short distance . . . . I think it is idle to talk about long-distance transportation with automobiles, because the very fact that we can not cheapen the cost, but are constantly increasing the cost, is the very thing which ought to deter us, if nothing more. But I say again that it would not be possible for any system that anybody is interested in to successfully introduce vehicles on costly roads that can only carry a burden equal to their own weight . . . . I say that all of your experts, Mr. Chairman, are not able to show any vehicle that is put on these roads for the transportation of freight that will carry much if anything more than its own weight.
When Senator Townsend asked Dodge to confirm whether he was opposed to the building of highways for long-distance traffic, Dodge did so. He said it "would be very injurious, and not only because they would not serve the purpose, but would be a very wasteful expenditure; but most of all, it would shut off all improvements by other means."
At the request of Senator McKellar, Dodge confirmed: "I favor the present law." Senator Townsend asked, then, if Dodge favored "turning this money, the Federal money, over to the States without any control by the Federal Government . . . and letting them spend it as they please?" Dodge replied:
I would limit it as it is now limited, and probably with greater safeguards; but you have heard it testified here to-day that the three-year limit of the roads already built does not require any repair.
Dodge did not explain what additional safeguards he favored, but debated with Senator Townsend whether the roads built thus far under the Federal-aid program needed maintenance. The oldest roads, Dodge repeated, were only 3 years old. "Any good road that is substantially built does not require any repairs for the first three years." Dodge quoted a witness from Pennsylvania who said "the roads they are building would not require much [maintenance] for 20 years."
Townsend disputed the summary, saying, the witness testified "that the road should endure as long as the bonds [issued to finance construction], but it should be maintained to do it." When the Senator observed that, "I do not think anybody has maintained that you could build a road and go off and leave it without keeping it in repair," Dodge replied, "Time makes the test. That is the only test we need-time."
Senator Townsend asked if Dodge had any other objections to S. 1355 ("please be as brief as you can"). Dodge reiterated his primary concern:
. . . that it does not provide for the necessary and proper cooperation between the State and the nation, and in view of that fact it takes away from the State its sovereign and necessary rights, and would likely result in a burden upon the State instead of a benefit to the State, whereas the entire theory and the entire practice in the past has been to come with aid and not with burdens, and leave control with the people and not take it away . . . .
I certainly hope that nothing will be done by the committee or by the Congress that will cut off the wonderful and beneficial results that have come, and especially I hope that nothing will be done that will cut off that enterprise which has made it possible to bring about what we have already done.
He also was concerned that "the committee seems to be dominated by the idea that everything is going to remain, and that they must build for the present existing circumstances, believing that they will be permanent":
My own idea is that that would be like making provision always to maintain wooden ships when iron ships have demonstrated their utility; and I am very sure that if we do not leave the door open so that enterprising individuals and States can introduce beneficial means, more suitable and cheaper, and possibly of greater extension, we would commit a great error.
He did not indicate which beneficial means might be introduced.
Senator Heflin asked Dodge how much would be accomplished if the present Federal-aid law remained in effect for 12 years. Dodge replied that he had not "figured that, but it would be a very great addition to the present system." He added that "would be only a small proportion of the mileage of the entire country." Heflin asked what percentage of roads would be improved in 12 years, which would be 16 years since enactment of the 1916 Act. Dodge estimated that it would be less than 25 percent of all roads. When Heflin asked if that would not be a "great deal for a big country" like the United States, Dodge agreed:
Yes; I think so. Gen. Sherman said that he had seen in 40 years more improvement in California than they had made in a thousand years in England. We are going at that rate in very many respects. That is what I contend for, and I do not want to cut it off.
He reiterated his concern about reducing transportation costs:
I am not at all in accord with the idea that seems to be prevailing that because wages go up transportation must go up. I say that you can keep wages high and transportation low, provided you introduce the proper means; but it is not a proper means to introduce vehicles that can only carry a burden equal to their own weight. You will never make any progress in that manner.
Senator Heflin asked if Dodge thought that progress "under the old road law, the present law" has been pretty satisfactory to the people in the States. Dodge replied:
Well, I was greatly satisfied. I am the author of the bill [the Brownlow Bill] under which the whole thing is brought about, and under my jurisdiction 23 States adopted the State aid plan, and, of course, it is gratifying to me and I would be very sorry to see it abandoned. I have fought a good fight, but I have not finished the course entirely yet.
So, Senator Heflin asked, "you feel . . . that it would be a mistake to change it now?" Dodge thought so. "If it should prove to be so beneficial as gentlemen think, it would be time enough to do it later on, I think." The Senator followed up by asking if Dodge agreed that letting the States build "these intercounty roads, serving the needs of the people in the State first" was better than "abandoning this cooperative work along that line and devoting the funds to building interstate roads?" Dodge replied:
I think this: That if the great States should abandon it, as they might-and both of the commissioners of the great States have testified to the fact that it is of no benefit to them; that they put into the fund more than they take out-if they should decide to abandon it on that account, and the other States, the smaller States, should decide to withdraw their influence because they are not consulted, the whole idea will fail. I would be sorry to see that. Now, it is not at all necessary to make these changes at once, and unless, as I have suggested, you could agree so as to divide this fund and keep the two going, you might lose both very easily . . . .
Now, of course, you all assume that you will always have that support and that vote for this appropriation. That may be so or may not be. I have seen the time, most of my life, when it was not so, and I would see it now if we had not pursued the policy which I have explained to you, by assuring the people that we would give aid and not take away control.
Senator Townsend did not prevail. In 1919, Congress had adopted a compromise suggested by BPR Chief Thomas H. MacDonald, who had been appointed following the death of Logan Page on December 8, 1918. The amendment, included in the Post Office Appropriations Act for 1920 (February 28, 1919), refined Federal-aid eligibility by incorporating interstate roads into the definition of "rural post road", which now read:
. . . any public road a major portion of which is now used, or can be used, or forms a connecting link not to exceed ten miles in length of any road or roads now or hereafter used for the transportation of the United States mail.
Under the Federal Highway Act of 1921, which President Harding approved on November 9, 1921, Congress limited Federal-aid funds to a designated system of up to 7 percent of all rural public roads in each States, with three-sevenths of the system consisting of roads that were "interstate in character." Each State could spend not more than 60 percent of its Federal-aid funds on the interstate routes. This compromise satisfied advocates of long-distance roads ("interstate in character") and farm-to-market roads, while retaining the Federal-State partnership that was at the heart of the 1916 Act.
As President Harding had requested, the 1921 Act strengthened the maintenance requirement of the 1916 Act. BPR would give the State highway agency 90 days to repair a Federal-aid highway. If the State did not do so, BPR would proceed immediately to place the road in a proper condition of maintenance. Further, BPR would not approve any other Federal-aid projects in the State until the State had reimbursed the Federal highway funds for the amount expended.
President Harding signed the Act on November 9, 1921. It settled the dispute between those who wanted Federal construction of long-distance roads and those, including Martin Dodge, who favored Federal-aid. Moreover, the system basis of the revised program has remained a feature of the Federal-aid highway program ever since. Thus, the ideas that Dodge and Eldridge had proposed in the Brownlow Bill are still elements of the program.
On October 21, 1929, President Herbert Hoover was in Cincinnati, Ohio, to dedicate a monument commemorating completion of a $125 million lock-and-dam system on the Ohio River. In the October 1929 issue of National Magazine, Governor Myers Y. Cooper wrote about the construction project, emphasizing that enterprise always went hand in hand with Ohio. (Three days after the President dedicated the monument, the stock market crashed, followed by the catastrophic crash on October 29 that launched the country into the Depression.)
Governor Cooper's article prompted Dodge to write a followup article in National Magazine(Vol. 18, No. 8) titled "McKinley-Pioneer of Roads." In it, Dodge looked back on his long fight for good roads. After summarizing the lock-and-dam program, he said:
Concurrently with this great enterprise in aid of water transportation, there has been developed in our state a system of overland transportation of much greater importance than river transportation. I refer to the substitution of inanimate power for animal power for the purposes of transportation on the highways. This is a new and wonderful means of transportation which Ohio was the first to introduce.
He recalled how Governor McKinley's first annual message in January 1892 had called attention to the need for better roads. Following a reiteration of the message in 1893, the State legislature had approved a resolution that established the Ohio State Highway Commission, which Dodge would chair.
Dodge summarized the resulting report , which "was followed by such extraordinary results as to work what has finally appeared to be a revolution as to the means of overland transportation on our public highways, by substituting inanimate power for the animal power which had theretofore been in universal use." This "new and wonderful means of transportation" for passengers and freight could "carry and deliver all persons, and all things, to all places."
This progress, he said, had "taken its beginning from the recommendations of the great governor and President, William McKinley." Dodge added:
It was my good fortune to have a part in planning and a hand in executing this new method of transportation now so universally in use. This was not easily done but required many years of labor and experiment to make a complete and final demonstration. This was commenced ten years before Henry Ford put out his first model "T"  which proved to be so successful. Discovery had to be supplemented by invention and invention by construction.
Dodge recounted Governor McKinley's promise to bring his highway commissioner to Washington, which he did after Dodge completed his term as State Senator.
Dodge turned to 1898 and the Omaha exposition where he demonstrated that a single horse could pull weight on a steel track road that would require 20 horses on an ordinary road. He reprinted photos of the event. After noting his similar demonstration in Paris in 1900, he described his work as Director of OPRI:
In pursuance of my duties I visited every state in the Union but three, making addresses before good roads conventions, legislatures, chambers of commerce and agricultural associations. I contended for the introduction of state and national aid whereby we could secure a general fund out of which smooth, hard and durable roads could be built and maintained. In connection with this crusade I introduced the good roads trains carrying machinery, experts and engineers, and built many object lesson roads of a mile or so in length during the progress of the three day conventions which were held concurrently with the event.
I call these object lesson roads "Silent sermons in stone preaching the gospel of good roads free." It worked like a charm for everybody was really charmed by the beneficial results that came from this demonstration, and in every case the object lesson roads were extended to greater lengths.
Dodge observed that a change had taken place in society "whereby the government, or the public, furnishes the right-of-way and 'the track' while the individual furnishes the vehicle and the power." This was "the natural and original division of labor between the state and the individual," but this division had been interrupted by the railroad:
"For] the first time in the history of civilization, the right-of-way, track, the vehicle and the power were all furnished in their entirety by the carrier. Before the advent of the railroads no state or government undertook to do more than furnish the right-of-way and the track or pavement . . . .
It seems to be natural and beneficial for now after a lapse of practically one hundred years we are returning to the original principle by which the state furnishes right-of-way, builds and maintains the pavement, and the individual furnishes the vehicle and the power. This is so natural and so just that it is certain to be continued with the most beneficial results.
He wanted to clarify the relationship between the road and the automobile. "Remember that the automobile has but little value without the good road over which it can run." Although many people "think the automobile made the good roads system," he believed that "the good road is the mother of the automobile." He added:
During my administration of the United States Road Office, twenty-three states passed legislation providing for state aid, and this all happened before the good roads trains were operated over the Illinois Central Railroad, the Southern Railroad, the New York Central Railroad and the Great Northern Railroad reaching the North and the South, the East and the West.
To illustrate, he pointed out that "Henry Ford has lately offered to build at his own expense, both in Egypt and in India, 150 miles of improved road." The mileage would be "an object lesson, supposing and believing that when the advantages of the improved roads are demonstrated that the people would insist upon introducing the new method as a universal means of transportation."
Dodge concluded the article by pointing out that while cheap water transportation "has existed since Solomon," cheap overland transportation "is a thing of our own day and our own generation." While most of the human race was still dependent on animal power for overland transportation, "I speak of this that we may more fully appreciate that enterprise to which Governor Cooper refers and which has been manifested so largely in the state of Ohio, and in our other great commonwealths."
Martin Dodge died on April 23, 1931, at his O Street residence. He was 79 years old.
Hal P. Denton, in his November 1931 Cleveland Plain-Dealer article, observed that Dodge "passed away in Washington a couple of months ago, and with no one to sing his praise." Denton reviewed Dodge's career-real estate operator, newspaper owner, State Senator, good roads advocate, Director of the OPRI, and builder of object-lesson roads. Denton referred to good roads trains, Dodge's advocacy of State and Federal aid, and the 1898 demonstration at the Omaha exposition, saying, "He had photographs made of this demonstration and these were published generally in reports and newspapers." The article concluded:
On his last visit to his birthplace, a few years ago, he was rewarded by sitting on the front porch of the old homestead and seeing automobiles and trucks and busses [sic] flitting back and forth on the main market road between Cleveland and Youngstown, which in his boyhood days was nothing but a lane of mushy and viscuous clay.
This nation should rear a shaft in memory of Martin Dodge. What he accomplished for his fellow men and women is priceless.
Colonel William H. Moore, who had worked closely with Dodge, for good or ill, in the early 1900's died on September 15, 1937, at the age of 81 in Ontario. According to a Canadian Press account published in The New York Times the following day, Moore "was fatally injured tonight when struck by a motor car almost in front of his home." Gordon Dill, a 20-year old from Embro, was charged with reckless driving. The brief article mentioned that Colonel Moore, who it said spent more than 40 years in the United States, "devoted nearly all of his life to development of better and safer highways."