Dixie Highway

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Passing Parade, by Nelson A. Pryor, Guest Columnist

How does one open up the South? Even into the 1920’s, the rest of America treated the South as an orphan. She already had railroads. But that was still not sufficient. Americans had fallen in love with the automobile. So, why shouldn’t the South have good roads as well?

Dixie Motorcade

After ten years of effort, the Dixie Highway Association’s “motorcade” of volunteers and well- wishers formed a long procession of automobiles making the 2,000-mile run from Saulte Ste. Marie, Michigan, to Miami, Florida. It was to commemorate the completion of the Dixie Highway.

The feat was carried quite extensively by the newspapers of the New York Times, from October 9, 1925 through October 17, 1925.

In their New York Times editorial, Oct. 10, 1925, they picked up a statement of J. Stacy Hill, general Vice Chairman of the Dixie Highway Motorcade, on what this great thoroughfare meant to the South:

“This wilderness had changed little since the Time Daniel Boone discovered the Cumberland Gap. The other day women were riding mules where the Dixie Highway now passes, a sack of corn on the pommel, in one arm a baby, in the free hand a basket. Never had a wheeled vehicle been seen. The people were the most backward in America, and the poorest. Imagine the greeting the motorcade will receive as it glides through the South of the trail and footpath period. Mr. Hill is right when he says:

“‘In the educational and sociological advantages which the Dixie Highway will bring to communities of this sort it will more than justify the millions of dollars which have gone into its construction.’

“The magic it will work is not so much in swelling the stream of travel from Superior’s unsalted sea to Miami’s surf and palms as in waking the mountain South from its sleep of 200 years.”

Prosperity The South had followed self- interest: build roads! Mr. Hill went on further: Figure the cost per mile of even expensive construction. Figure the financing necessary to amortize this cost and then reduce it to terms of the taxes which must be paid for these roads and what do you find? You find that in increased value of your lands, in lowered railroad costs, in increased returns from your production, in your saving of tires, of gasoline, of shoe leather, each man who is taxed to pay for a road saves more in a year than the whole increase in his tax bill. Good roads bring prosperity and the automobiles which fly back and forth over them are the shuttles which will weave this nation into a closely-knit fabric which, each year, will be productive of greater wealth.” Music and Fireworks One group had come from Chicago, through Indianapolis, Louisville and Nashville, and another had started from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, hooking up at Chattanooga, Tennessee. From there they went to Atlanta, and then over to Jacksonville, Florida, passing through Monticello and Madison. The South was no longer the step child, but was to be heard from again and again.

Prosperity

The South had followed self- interest: build roads! Mr. Hill went on further: Figure the cost per mile of even expensive construction. Figure the financing necessary to amortize this cost and then reduce it to terms of the taxes which must be paid for these roads and what do you find? You find that in increased value of your lands, in lowered railroad costs, in increased returns from your production, in your saving of tires, of gasoline, of shoe leather, each man who is taxed to pay for a road saves more in a year than the whole increase in his tax bill. Good roads bring prosperity and the automobiles which fly back and forth over them are the shuttles which will weave this nation into a closely-knit fabric which, each year, will be productive of greater wealth.”

Music and Fireworks

One group had come from Chicago, through Indianapolis, Louisville and Nashville, and another had started from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, hooking up at Chattanooga, Tennessee. From there they went to Atlanta, and then over to Jacksonville, Florida, passing through Monticello and Madison. The South was no longer the step child, but was to be heard from again and again.


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