Note: The following is part of a series of articles looking at the origin of roads in southeast Georgia and Bulloch County.)
The Bulloch Herald of May 21, 1937 published a short article listing Bulloch County’s main highways. It stated that Statesboro had four state highways and two federal highways.
At that time, Bulloch County had about 76 miles of state highways and 40 miles of federal highways. In contrast, a 2000 study showed Bulloch County now had 12 federal and state highways 180 miles in length.
The 1937 article listed them: The first was State Route 73, “the Burton Ferry Route from the Savannah River through Sylvania, into Statesboro and down to Claxton.”
Next was State Highway 67, the route “from Augusta to Waynesboro and Millen into Statesboro (continuing) down to Pembroke, (from where you could travel to) the Coastal Highway at Midway.”
This also was “Federal Route 25, which had its Southern terminus at Statesboro.” Continuing, State Highway 26 route began at “Savannah (and went) into Statesboro, through Dublin (and on) to Columbus.”
And, “Federal Highway 80 runs over this same route to Dublin and from that point to Macon, and then from Macon to Columbus.” Finally, “State Highway 46 is the Metter to Statesboro Road.”
What is now State Route 67 was built and named after L. Carlton Belt, captain of Bulloch County's Company I “Toombs Guards,” which was the “Color Guard” of the 9th Georgia Volunteer Infantry.
The Carlton Belt Memorial Highway, after being improved and lengthened, became Georgia State Route 67. State Route 67 now begins at the northern edge of Fort Stewart just over 2 miles south of Pembroke in Bryan County.
Passing through Pembroke, State Route 67 continues north, crossing into Bulloch County where it connects to Interstate 16. The highway continues north into Statesboro.
According to the 1954 State of Georgia Highway System Map, the Charles H. Herty Memorial Highway in Bulloch County leaves Eastman and “follows Route 46 to Statesboro.”
The 1954 map also revealed the Okefenokee Trail passes through Bulloch, following Route 21 to Millen, U.S. 25 to Statesboro, and then Route 67 to Hinesville.
The Old River Road route became an important roadway from Savannah to Milledgeville, and followed the eastern boundary of Bulloch County. Robert Hughes’ “The Story of Bulloch County” (1987) described the route.
Hughes wrote, “In the 1830-40s, (there was) one stage coach route from Savannah to Milledgeville through the northern part of Bulloch County.” The road known as the Old River Road followed the Ogeechee River.
According to the 1954 map, the Tobacco Trail through Bulloch took “Routes 152 and 23 to Metter, Route 46 to Statesboro” and then headed east on U.S. 301.
Tobacco Trail quickly earned the nickname of “The Highway of Southern Hospitality.” Travelers going from Washington, D.C. to Florida would plan on stopping overnight in the Statesboro area. Its restaurants had a reputation for excellence. They included Mrs. Bryan’s Kitchen, which opened as a small one room restaurant, but soon opened additional rooms.
In addition, there was Joe Franklin’s Drive-In Restaurant. As segregation was still the way of things, black travelers would eat at Odella Lee’s Restaurant or at Ella’s Diner.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history who provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.