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Good Roads

( Originally Published 1915 )



Better Roads.—Our country is new and the pioneer was too busy conquering a continent to build good roads. Distances are great in America and hence good roads cost more per capita than in other countries. We have been making so many inventions, railroads, trolleys, traction engines, automobiles and the like that we have not been sure just what we wanted roads for or who should pay for them. Then, too, the pioneer was followed by the land speculator who robbed the soil, neglected the school, the church and the local government, and who cared nothing for good roads. He was waiting for unearned increment, and he left us many serious problems. Let us hope that we are nearing the time when the men on the farms will be the true husbandmen, who live in the country because they love the country and who till the soil because they love the soil and love to make it pro-duce. These true husbandmen will be in the country to stay, and they will want good roads over which to haul produce, and over which to go to church, to school, and Grange and other social gatherings.

Educate Road Builders.—I fear that we are beginning at the wrong end. We are appropriating money for good roads before we have men educated to use that money honestly and wisely (Fig. 119). We are appropriating money for good roads before we have public opinion trained to criticise the use of money expended for making the roads better. Public opinion is alert to find fault but, since it finds fault with almost every-thing, public criticism fails to count as it should. A sharp, clear discussion in our schools, at least once each year, of what constitutes a good road, of what material it should be made, and what it should cost and who can build it most economically, would in a few years give us a public opinion that would do much to insure efficient road makers and efficient use of public money in building roads. When the great pastor, Frederick Oberlin, began his remarkable work among the country folk of the Vosges Mountains, he began by helping them to build a better road. One of the first signs of rural decay is neglect of the roads, and one of the first signs of rural regeneration is the making of a good road. Wonderful progress is being made in discovering better road-making materials and in learning how to use them. No country boy should become a man without being put into touch with the sources of this information and without being made conscious of where good roads are to be found and how they were made. Farmers' Bulletin No. 505, " Benefits of Good Roads "; No. 597, " The Road Drag and How to Use It," and the United States bulletins of the Office of Public Roads should be in the school library and read by those interested in building better roads.



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