Samuel Washington McCallie.

A preliminary report on the roads and road-building materials of Georgia online

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it was to lay out and keep in repair the highways of their respective
districts. In case the work to be performed could not be ac-
complished by the personal labor of the road hands, who were
required to work, if necessity demanded it, as much as twelve days
each year, the Surveyors were given the power to assess a tax of
all male inhabitants, between the ages of sixteen and sixty, for
the accomplishment of the same. The act required all roads to be
twenty-four feet wide, and trees to be left on either side, con-
venient for shade. Cutting down or otherwise injuring any of
these shade trees was punishable by a fine of twenty shillings.

After the Revolutionary War, numerous acts were passed by the
legislature, from time to time, for the betterment of the highways.
Many of these acts were of a local nature, applicable only to cer-
tain districts and to frontier times. In the newly settled counties,
for instance, the following clause was generally inserted in all
highway enactments : *' Every road hand shall carry with him
one good and eflBcient gun or pair of pistols, and at least nine
cartridges to fit the same, or twelve loads of powder and ball or
buck shot, under a penalty of one dollar, for every day he shall
neglect so to do ". There were also numerous plans devised, from
time to time, to raise money to improve certain important high-
ways. One of the first schemes of this nature was instigated in
1802, in order to obtain means to construct a road from Savannah
to New-Deptford. The parties having the building of the road
under consideration were empowered, by a special enactment, to
raise by lottery 10,000 dollars to carry out the work. Other plans,
of a less objectionable character, were resorted to, in order to raise

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money for road improvement ; but none of them seem to have met
with the general approval of the masses ; and, as a result, the
highways in the early part of the present century were kept up
almost entirely as at present, by the labor of the road hands of the
rural districts.

The national government, during the first settlement of Georgia,
contributed, from time to time, several thousand dollars for the
purpose of opening up roads in different parts of the State. Some
of these roads are still in use, and are frequently spoken of as the
old federal roads.

In 1829, there was considerable interest manifested throughout
the State in the improvement of roads and rivers. During the
latter part of this year, an act was passed by the General Assembly
appropriating $70,000 for the purchase of negroes to be used in
improving the highways and navigable streams. About 200
slaves were thus procured by the State and placed in charge
of two superintendents appointed by the Governor. The duty of
the superintendent was to direct and oversee all improvements and
make annual reports to the General Assembly, describing the na-
ture of the work performed and the cost of the same. The im-
provements inaugurated under this enactment began under very
favorable auspices,* and the necessary appropriations were willingly
voted, from year to year, to carry on the work. In a short time,
however, dispentions arose. It was claimed, that the works were
poorly managed ; and furthermore, that a few localities only were
being benefited at the expense of the entire State. Influences
were accordingly brought to bear upon the Legislature, and the
appropriation was discontinued, after the expenditure of about
$200,000. The superintendents reported about 200 miles of road
built, mostly in the vicinity of Columbus, Macon, Milledgeville
and Augusta, during the time, that the law was in force.

Hardly had the above plan of road improvement passed into dis-
favor, when there was much interest shown in highway improve-
ment throughout the State by the building of turnpikes. Between
1834 and 1850, the General Assembly incorporated no less than

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twenty-five companies for the purpose of building such roads.
The majority of these charters were for roads to be constructed in
the northern part of the State, where the mountainous nature of
the country rendered the building and the maintenance of roads
especially expensive. Various schemes were adopted to secure
money to build the turnpikes, the most common being the selling
of stock, the instituting of lotteries, and the application to the leg-
islature for State aid. In a few instances, the State granted small
sums for such improvement; but, in the majority of cases, the
turnpikes were opened and kept in a passable condition by stock
companies. Some of these roads were made of planks ; but, as a
general rule, they consisted of the common dirt roads, kept in a
fair condition for travel by the employment of hired labor.

With only one or two exceptions, the charters for turnpikes ex-
pired or were recalled before the late war ; and no effort has since
been made to revive the system of toll-roads. The turnpike sys-
tem of highway improvement established no first-class roads of a
permanent nature in the State. Nevertheless, it had its influence
in educating the people to a point, where they were more willing
to tax themselves for the betterment of highways.

In the last twenty-five years, there has been no marked or very
sudden change toward the betterment of the public roads of the
State ; yet, during this time, there has been a gradual, growing
sentiment in that direction. ,

One of the most effective means brought about in recent years,
looking to the improvement of highways, has been the adoption
of the so-called new road law. This law, inaugurated in 1891,
authorized the commissioners of roads and revenues of each
county, upon the recommendation of the grand jury, to fix and
levy a special road-tax, not to exceed 2 mills on the dollar 5 and
also to exact of each male inhabitant a commutation-tax, not to
exceed 50 cents per day for the number of days, work is required.
Furthermore, the law authorized these road authorities to oi^anize
chaingangs of misdemeanor convicts, or to hire free labor for the
improvement and the maintenance of the highways, the expenses

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being met by the special road and commutation taxes. About one-
fifth of the counties of the State have since adopted this new
road law, and are now keeping up. and improving their highways,
either by hired or convict labor. This system meets with general
approval, wherever it has been tried, and it is now only a question
of time, when it will be universally adopted throughout the State.

The usual method adopted in this system of road-working is
as follows : Convicts or free laborers are organized into squads,
consisting of fifteen to forty-five men, which are placed under a
competent superintendent and one or more overseers. Each
squad is furnished with a camping outfit, two or more road-ma-
chines, wheeled scrapers, wagons, from ten to twenty mules, plows,
etc. The work usually commences on the leading roads, radiat-
ing from the county-seat, and consists, first, in going over the
road with machines, giving them the proper crown, opening up
the side ditches, macadamizing the boggy places, and occasionally
cutting down the grades of the steeper hills. The main high-
ways being thus worked over, attention is then directed to the
less important roads, until all the highways in the county have
been crowned and properly drained. This first working usually
requires from one to two years, depending upon the condition of
the roads and the number of hands employed. The second time
the roads are gone over, more attention is paid to grading, and
considerable macadamizing is frequently done, and the work in
general is of a more permanent and lasting nature.

It is the intention of the road managers adopting this plan to
keep up this process of gradual road improvement, until all
the principal thoroughfares, at least, in their respective counties
are properly graded, macadamized, and otherwise put in first-class
condition. Such, in brief, is a condensed outline of the method
of working the roads in the counties, where only a small force of
laborers is maintained. In those counties having large cities, as
Fulton, Chatham, Richmond, Bibb and Floyd, where from lOO to
400 convicts are employed, the roads are frequently graded and
macadamized at the first working, and are afterwards kept in

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repair by a small force of hands detailed for that purpose. Under
this system of road-working, several hundred miles of first-class
macadamized or gravel roads have been built in the various coun-
ties of the State, within the last three or four years. Some of
these roads, such as the Manchester or the Peachtree roads in the
vicinity of Atlanta, are ideal thoroughfares, and are the envy and
delight of all visiting wheelmen. Other roads, of similar merits,
are found in the counties of Richmond, Chatham, Bibb, Floyd
etc. The people in these counties are thoroughly in sympathy
with the good-road movement, and frequently refer with pride to
the excellent condition and constant improvement of their high-


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The value of good roads can hardly be overestimated. It
would indeed be a difficult matter to mention any of the various
products of human industry, which are not directly or indirectly
affected by the condition of the highways. If the cost of a com-
modity be analyzed, it will be found, that a considerable percentage
of its value is due to transportation. The food we eat, the clothing
we wear, together with all the other necessities of life, with few
exceptions, are each subject to this universal taxation.

The cost of transportation depends mainly upon two factors,
namely, the time and the force required to move a commodity
from one place to another. If the time is short and the force is
small, the cost of transportation will be reduced to a minimum ;
but, if the time is long and the force is great, then the cost of
transportation will reach a maximum. Both these elements of
cost are dependent, to a great extent, on the state of the public
roadways ; and, as a consequence, any improvement in their con-
dition will aflEect, to a greater or less extent, the cost of all com-
modities, whose value depends upon transportation, and, at the
same time, increase the profits of the producer and cheapen the
cost of living to the consumer.

The advantage of highway improvement may be considered,
as suggested by Prof. W. C. Latta, under the following heads : —

1 Good roads lessen the time andforce^ in transportation to and
from the market

2 Good roads enable the products and the farm supplies to be de-
livered^ at all seasons of the year.


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4/*-ji./ i:,>,- t limit*:' ;j*-r' irmiiiLL*^- mtinci ir en- nn
^ii«^ juoi: *J Hi. • I : : . . -^ iuirn?rr : : i: - : ^r» - * ! ' ii^ «— is cviecn . :

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uu»r I'.' tiu- cauK » caniiutr' i* tc*' vcniiiabi-:: Tjroacras aiant - -
il laljs witii <:qua wtritrn*. upo:' tn^ DC7it-i?msnabie uradnctr
tr>ltxuait:u, tiiat the iarmcrs o: ib*_' Vniie - Stains iosi ias: tci: "
Ui*r wiitsil crop aiose srvcKi. miliioii n- r.irrr . on aec mm t o: znsi: r
bnuj: uin*: to p^i it to maxxei ar tc*. trrorje' rmtf-

Tiia*. jiood roads grcaiiy Teduce tht: lorct. neccssaT^* t*' naiHT* r
tnoducis to and from market, it snow:: n: tnt table helov t '::
Kudu; pi: Herring, published in thi I^r^nemnr Kccvrd&BSL-L vei:
^? - .' Tiie table gives the power, or tiacnvt- iorct, Tcqrnre. :
move a load of 2,Z40 pounds, at the rate of three miles pe: h"*!^*
over the various classes of roads.

CondeBBed f ro m HifrtnTB" CcmstmctBii^. tr> amBxl 1 jrrzs. ^

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Kind of Road Tractive Force

Loose sand 448 lbs.

Loose gravel (deep) 320 **

** ** (4 inches) 222 •*

Common gravel road 147 **

Good gravel 88 *'

Hard road gravel , 75 "

Ordinary dirt road 224 **

Hard clay 112 "

Hard, dry dirt road 89 *'

Macadam (little used) 140 to 97 ''

Bad macadam 160 ''

Poor macadam 112 "

Common macadam 64 ''

Good macadam (wet) 75 to 42 '*

Best French macadam 45 **

Very hard and smooth macadam 46 ' '

Best macadam 52 to 32 **

«« «* 50 **

Cobblestone (ordinary) 140 **

(good) 75 "

Belgian blocks 56 **

" ** in Paris 54 to 34 **

11% ''

" (good) 34J4 '*

*' ** 50 to 26 **

Stone block (ordinary) 90 **

** " (good) 45 ''

'* (London) 36 **

Asphalt 17 '*

Granite tramway ^3/4 **

" '* 12^ **

Iron railway iij4**

** ** . . 8 **

Mr. Austin T. Byrne, in discussing the tractive power of an av-
erage horse in good condition, says:^ **The average tractive

Highway Construction, by Austin T. Byrne, p. 301.

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force of a horse on a level, and actively pulling ten hours, may be
assumed approximately as follows : —



Miles per Hour

Tractive Force

Miles pet* Hotir

Tractive Force


333.33 lbs.


III. II lbs.


250.00 **


• 100.00 "


200.00 **


90.91 "


166.66 "


83.33 "


142.86 *'


71.43 "


125.00 ** ,


62.50 *•

These estimates are based on practical tests made upon level
roads. Where the roadbed inclines, forming a grade however
small, the tractive force required to move the same load must be
rapidly increased as is shown by the following table : — *


Table No. 3 gives the tractive force necessary to draw i ton
over the best macadam road of various grades and the equivalent
length of each mile of grade in miles of level road.


Rate of Inclina-

Angle with the

Tractive Force

Equivalent Length
of Level Road in


f ff

00 00
06 53
34 23
42 58

57 18

1 08 16
I 25 57

1 54 37

2 17 26

2 51 21

3 48 51
5 42 58









1 .00

I in 500

I in 100

1. 10
I 52

I in 80


I in 60


I in 50

2 05

I in 40


I in 30 . ....


I in 25


I in 20

3 63

I in 15

4 SO

I in 10

6 26

' BuUetin No. ao, U. S. Dept. of Agri., Office of Road Inquiry, p. 21.

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By comparing tables i and 2, it will be observed, that a horse
having a speed of three miles per hour can exert, for ten consecu-
tive hours, a pulling force of 83.33 pounds, which is equivalent
approximately to moving 2,240 pounds 30 miles over a good gravel
road, or twice that amount (4,480 pounds), the same distance over
the best macadamized road. Furthermore, if table 3 is taken into
consideration in the comparison, it will be seen, that the horse can
move 2,240 pounds over a road having a grade i to 10 only about
5 miles or % of the original distance. In the last comparison, the
grade considered is unusually high, the maximum in first-class
roads being i to 30. However, it must be borne in mind, that
the road under consideration in table 3 is the best quality of
macadamized road. If the comparison were made with our aver-
age Georgia dirt road during the early spring, the grade might be
reduced to zero, and still the horse could not accomplish the above
work in the given time. In other words, a load of 2,240 pounds,
10 miles, or what is its equivalent, 1,120 pounds 20 miles, is more
than an average day's work for a horse on the common public
roads of Georgia. That this statement is not overdrawn, is shown
in circular No. 19 by Gen. Roy Stone, Director of the Office of Road
Inquiry, U. S. Department of Agriculture. As this information was
obtained from the replies to ten thousand letters, sent to intelligent
and reliable farmers throughout the country, it is supposed to be
reasonably reliable, and can be depended upon, as approximately
correct. The average 2-horse load, therein given for the Cotton
States, is 1,397 pounds ^ load, greater by only 277 pounds than
the above estimated load for one horse. In view of this statement,
it is obvious, that the work assigned to one horse, namely, 1,120
pounds, 20 miles in 10 hours, is actually more than the average
horse will really accomplish on the common public roads of Geor-
gia. However, in order to show the enormous cost of bad roads
to the State, and, at the same time, have a wide margin for error ,
these figures will be used in the discussion.

Again referring to tables i and 2, it will be seen, that one horse
can move a load of 4,480 pounds 30 miles over a first-class mac-

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adamized road, in lo hours ; or two horses can move twice that
load (8,960 pounds) the same distance in the same time ; whereas,
the above estimate for a 2-horse load on the average Georgia road
is only a fourth of that amount (2,240 pounds), 20 miles. But
suppose, that the 2-horse team could actually go thirty miles on
the average Georgia dirt road with 2,240 pounds, in 10 hours.
Even then, the same team could haul four times the load, with the
same exertion, over a first-class macadamized road, such as now
exists between Atlanta and Manchester, in the same time. In
other words, if the State of Georgia had first-class macadamized
roads, only a fourth of the draft horses now engaged in transporta-
tion would be necessary to accomplish the work ; or, what is the
same thing, all the traffic of our public roads could be carried on
at an expense of only a fourth of its present cost. The aggregate
amount, thus annually lost to the citizens of the State, is evidently
a very large sum, as is shown by the following statement. Accord-
ing to the above cited circular, by Gen. Stone, the average cost
per ton for the whole length of haul, for farm products in the
Southern States, is $3.05. At this rate, it costs the farmers of
Georgia, in round numbers, $3,000,000 to market their cotton and
deliver their fertilizers. As good roads would reduce this sum by
three-fourths, the saving to the farmers of the State on these two
articles alone would aggregate more than $2,250,000. To this
sum, we might reasonably add $1,000,000 more, three-fourths of
the haulage charges on all other products. This would give a
grand total of $3,250,000, the amount annually lost to the farmers,
chargeable to overdraft due to bad roads.

Good Roads Enable the Farm Products to be Marketed,
AND Supplies to be Delivered at All Seasons of the
Year. — It is a well known fact, that, in the winter and early
spring months, the majority of our common dirt roads become
well-nigh impassable for heavy traffic. During this season of the
year, the teams, which might be profitably engaged in hauling the
farm products to market, remain idle, at a considerable expense to
their owners in the matter of attention, feed etc. Prof. J. A.

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Holmes, State Geologist of North Carolina, in discussing this item
of expense chargeable to bad roads, places the loss due to this
cause in 56 middle and western counties of that State at $1,600,-
000 per annum, an amount sufficient to build more than 75 miles
of first-class macadamized road. Prof. Holmes's line of argument
in supporting the above statement is as follows : ' " These 134,000
country horses and mules, credited to the middle and western
counties, cannot be used during four weeks of the year on account
of bad roads. The cost of feeding them per day, at twenty cents
each, is $26,800, which for the four weeks amounts to $750,400.
Now, let us add to this the item of the loss of time for these
animals. Putting this at twenty-five cents per day (twenty-four
days), we see another source of loss, amounting to $804,000.
These two items give us a total of $1,554,400 per annum, which
may be charged against the impassable public roads. Let us add
to this the cost of the following items, which will amount in the
aggregate to certainly not less than $50,000: (i) Value of the
services of ox-teams and the cost of finding them, during the four
weeks ; (2) and the loss farmers sustain by not being able to carry
farm produce, tobacco, cotton etc., to markets at times when prices
are highest ; and the result presents at a reasonable estimate, a
total loss of more than $1,600,000 per annum, to be charged
against excessively bad public roads in North Carolina, during
these four weeks."

Now, if the above figures are correct, and they are undoubtedly
plausible, it would be no exaggeration to say, that the farmers of
Georgia annually sustain a loss of more than $2,000,000 from
this cause alone. In other words, this large sum of money would
be an annual net gain to the farmers of the State, if the roads
were so improved, that teams could be used at all seasons of the
year. Furthermore, besides the pecuniary loss, we should also
take into consideration the effect of bad roads upon the social
condition of the country. During the winter and early spring,
bad roads are responsible, in a great measure, for the poor attend-
North Carolina Geological Survey, Bulletin No. 4, Road Materials and Road Construction in
North Carolina, p. 53.

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ance on the public schools, the closing of churches, and a cessa-
tion of all social and friendly intercourse in the rural districts.
To this cause, also, a recent writer attributes the unusual influx
of young men from the farm into our cities, and the resulting
gorged and over-crowded- conditions of the other trades and pro-

Good Roads Diminish the Wear and Tear on Vehicles,
Harness and Horses. — It is probably impossible to give
any definite estimate, as to the actual cost of the wear on vehi-
cles, harness and horses due to bad roads. However, the loss
due to this cause must amount, in the aggregate, to many thou-
sand dollars, annually. This is evident, if we take into consid-
eration the dilapidated vehicles, the broken harness and the jaded
and strained condition of the horses throughout the State, which
is chargeable, in a great measure, to the impassable condition of
the public roads. In an adjoining State, it is said, that the num-
ber of black-smith and harness-shops have been greatly reduced
in the country, since the introduction of macadamized roads, and
also, that there is a marked change noticeable in the condition of
the draft-horses now to be seen on the highways. One author, in
discussing this item of cost, due to bad roads, expresses the
opinion, that the usefulness of all vehicles, harness and even
draft-horses would be prolonged at least one third, if all highways
were kept in first-class condition. This statement is probably
overdrawn. However, suppose the annual loss to be only $10.00
per team ; even then, the aggregate loss to the State per annum
would amount to more than $500,000.

Good Roads Increase the Value of Real Estate. — No
means of increasing the value of the real estate of a common-
wealth, is probably so effective as the improvement of its highways.
Mr. Clarence Coleman, in discussing the effect of good roads
upon the value of real estate, before the Virginia Good Roads
Convention at Richmond, in 1894, said:' ''It is stated upon
good authority, that in Union county, N. J., by reason of the im-

* Bulletin No. ii. U. S. Dept. of Agrri., Office of Road Inquiry, p. 19.

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proved system of road construction and maintenance, farming
lands are estimated at an average of $206 per acre, as against the
average value of $65 per acre for the other part of the State." In

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Online LibrarySamuel Washington McCallieA preliminary report on the roads and road-building materials of Georgia → online text (page 2 of 22)