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Bulloch History with Roger Allen: First 'plank' roads are built in southeast Georgia
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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.

The Act to Authorize the Incorporation of Joint Stock Companies for the Construction of Macadamized, Graded or Plank Roads was adopted in 1850. It was at this time that the first "turnpikes" came to Georgia.

The Acts of the General Assembly of the State of Georgia, (1852) list The Ogeechee Plank Road Company as having been incorporated by Anthony Porter, Jas. P. Scriven, John W. Anderson, Langdon Cheves, Charles A. L. Lamar, Carrol A. Cloud, Edward C. Anderson and Michael Pendergrast.
They immediately began implementing their plan to build "a Plank Road from the city of the Ogeechee river, at what was formerly known as Hill's, now King's bridge."

It was to begin at the "Southern limits of the said city of the seven mile post on said Ogeechee highway, or to such intermediate the said Company may find expedient and necessary."

As "Toll Road" investors expected to make a good deal of money collecting their tolls, between 1834 and 1850 some 25 companies had been chartered to build more turnpikes in Georgia.
Usual toll road fees in Georgia were 1/16th of a cent per mile (or cpm) per sheep or goat; 1/8th cpm per hog; ¼ cpm per cow; ½ cpm per loose horse; and a full cent per mile for a saddled horse.

Fees averaged 1 ¼ cpm for a cart or wagon; for "road wagons" drawn by two animals, it was 3 cpm; and 1 ½ cpm more for each additional animal.
For a one-horse "pleasure carriage" the fee was 2 cpm, and for "pleasure carriages" drawn by two or more horses there was an additional toll of 2 cpm for each additional animals.

There were other Plank Roads that led out of both cities of Savannah and Augusta, parts of which are still identified by markers along their routes.

The 1930s song, "Way Down the Old Plank Road," written by "Uncle Dave" Macon Harrison, owner of the Midway Mule and Wagon Company, was about a chain gang working on the road.

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



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