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Bulloch History with Roger Allen: Bulloch and its early roads
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Roger Allen

Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at the first road systems in Georgia and Bulloch County.


Burkhalter Road is the oldest road in Bulloch County and one of the oldest in the Southeastern United States." The first segment of the "Path to Pensacola," it was an integral path for the Indian nations.

Extremely import to the colonial powers as well, the Spanish explorers referred to this road as "Camino Real (or in some document as Camio Reel)." The English then referred to it as their "King's Highway."
Early Bulloch County comprised 930 square miles throughout which there were 900 miles of public roads, including 50 miles surfaced with a sand and clay mixture, and 700 miles "otherwise improved."

Forty-one convicts and 34 mules were employed working on road crews to build these Bulloch County roads. It cost $400 per mile to build a sand and clay road. Bulloch County spent $19,330 on road improvements in 1908. Bulloch's male citizens were required to fulfill the "road duty" responsibilities (two days' labor) per year assessed by the county.

There was no road tax. The county "ordinary" or judge, maintained the convict road chain gang by an appropriation from the general funds account. Each road convict cost the county $5 per month.

A road crew superintendent and two county prison guards oversaw the chain gang. The superintendent was paid $35 per month, and the county prison guards were each paid $30 per month.
Bulloch County owned no mechanical road machinery. A team of mules pulling a wagon was used for all moving and hauling needs. Its roads were surfaced almost entirely with clay, of which there was an abundance.

The magazine "Southern Good Roads" first issue (January 1910) wrote that "Swainsboro and Emanuel county...(who are) rather backward in good roads activities... are being aroused from their lethargic state and sentiment is increasing-for...better highways."
The magazine shared that "Statesboro (had)...decided to build a highway...across Emanuel county...(connecting to) the one in Johnson county, which (in turn connects to) Macon and Atlanta."

In another section, that issue of Southern Good Roads reported "A short stretch of road lying (near)...(in Bulloch and Screven counties) bears the distinction of being the worst bit of road between New York and Savannah."

Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. Email Roger at rwasr1953@gmail.com.

 

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