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Bulloch History with Roger Allen: The Southern 'good roads' movement takes hold
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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 first issue of "Southern Good Roads" (1910) interviewed G. Grosvenor Dawe, the managing director of the new Southern Commercial Congress, whose mission was to "sell" the South's prosperity.

Dawe declared, "One cannot touch the good roads movement without realizing the (importance of) publications within ... the south."

Dawe shared an effort underway to create a North to South Highway. He declared, "The New York Herald and the Atlanta Journal with their scout-car trips between Atlanta and New York (assisted by) ... weeklies ... (gave) space to good roads news."

Maj. John S. Cohen, the managing editor of the Atlanta Journal, wrote about good roads in the South in his paper in an article entitled "The Great National Highway."

To lay out the new proposed Broadway to Whitehall Highway, the two papers sent out "scout cars ... (which) climbed and tumbled along backwoods bridle paths ... carrying the slogan of good roads."

Cohen wrote, "They traveled miles upon miles of road only to discard them from further consideration. ... And finally, months (later) ... they had their road mapped. The national highway was found."

These scouts had to convince locals of the value of the new highway and "what it meant to them to have a national highroad running past their doors, past their hotels, past their market-places."

Cohen declared, "They (the locals) have not failed to grasp the wide difference between the touring road for leisurely travel, and the railroad for through travel that hustles the men they would bid stay, past them."

Cohen mused, "The scouts invaded regions where roads had always been just roads. ... The bare idea of improving them had never been suggested ... (but) automobile tourists" challenged that idea.

And then, in October of that year, he said, " 'Good Roads Tourists' drove the length of the national highway under the auspices of The Journal and The Herald," proving indeed that this new national highway was now a reality.

Cohen then boasted, "At Atlanta, the southern terminus of the highway ... the whole state of Georgia (now) knows that at Atlanta it can get upon the nation's highroad and ride to Gotham."

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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