4. History‎ > ‎

100.110 Good Roads Movement

The League of American Wheelmen, organized by a new and exciting breed of Americans -- men who rode bicycles for recreation -- took root in 1880.  It was these bicycle riders, not automobile owners, who set the stage for the good roads movement in this country.  In the late 1880s, the league began publishing a monthly magazine, Good Roads, which kept its members appraised of progress in the movement as well as encouraging scientific research on road construction. (Willis 19)

In the cities, streets were reasonably well paved with bricks or cobblestones, but outside the urban areas, most of the nation's roads were poor at best.  The solution came on two wheels; the "grass roots" Good Roads movement had begun with bicyclists, but now many new motorists were joining the wheelmen and lobbying vociferously for the improvement of the highways.  (Reddick vii)

...there was in the Pacific Northwest an entrepreneurial railroad magnet with a strong civic conscience and a great enthusiasm for the Good Roads movement.  Samuel Hill was the chairman of the Washington Highway Advisory Board, president of the Washington Good Roads Association, and president of the American Roadbuilders Association.  Sam Hill had a dream: a highway that would follow the Columbia River from the Pacific Ocean at Astoria all the way to Hood River.  (Reddick viii)

In 1908, Sam Hill escorted engineers Samuel C. Lancaster, R. H. Thompson, and Maj. H. B. Bowlby to the First International Road Congress in Paris.  After touring Europe and becoming inspired by the ancient terraced vineyards and stone masonry walls built by Charlemagne along the Rhine, the men returned -- to begin drumming up support for a highway along the Columbia.  (Reddick vii) 

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