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272 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 21 halftones, 4 maps, notes, bibl., index

Sponsored by the postdoctoral fellows program at the Center for the Study of the American South, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

ISBN  978-1-4696-1298-0
Published: March 2014

Dixie Highway

Road Building and the Making of the Modern South, 1900-1930

By Tammy Ingram

Awards & Distinctions

2014 GHRAC Award for Excellence, Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council

A 2014 Book of Interest, Business History Conference

At the turn of the twentieth century, good highways eluded most Americans and nearly all southerners. In their place, a jumble of dirt roads covered the region like a bed of briars. Introduced in 1915, the Dixie Highway changed all that by merging hundreds of short roads into dual interstate routes that looped from Michigan to Miami and back. In connecting the North and the South, the Dixie Highway helped end regional isolation and served as a model for future interstates. In this book, Tammy Ingram offers the first comprehensive study of the nation's earliest attempt to build a highway network, revealing how the modern U.S. transportation system evolved out of the hard-fought political, economic, and cultural contests that surrounded the Dixie's creation.

The most visible success of the Progressive Era Good Roads Movement, the Dixie Highway also became its biggest casualty. It sparked a national dialogue about the power of federal and state agencies, the role of local government, and the influence of ordinary citizens. In the South, it caused a backlash against highway bureaucracy that stymied road building for decades. Yet Ingram shows that after the Dixie Highway, the region was never the same.

About the Author

Tammy Ingram is assistant professor of history at the College of Charleston.


“Its examples are telling and illustrate effectively the complicated history of federally funded and managed Southern highway construction, raising issues that remain relevant in current debates on funding highway repair. Recommended for all readers interested in American politics and transportation.”
--Library Journal

“Ingram provides a template for future work in this area that others would do well to follow, and that students will benefit from in a variety of courses. A welcome addition to the literature on transportation in the U.S. Recommended. All levels/libraries.”

“A solid and well-written discussion of the myriad aspects of road building in the Progressive-Era South.”

“By skillfully combining national, regional, and state perspectives, Ingram offers a refreshing, informative, and a welcome addition to transportation history.”
--Journal of American History

"Although historians have previously examined the Good Roads Movement, scholars of the early twentieth-century South have long awaited a fully contextualized study of road building. Dixie Highway provides the most comprehensive study that we have today of the Good Roads Movement and its consequences. This will be essential reading for students of the modern South."
--William A. Link, author of Atlanta, Cradle of the New South: Race and Remembering in the Civil War's Aftermath

"Ingram shows how the struggles to create, first, the Dixie Highway, and later, a federal highway system, ignited debates about federal power and local control. She examines the roles of the various stakeholders--automobile manufacturers, farmers, prison commissioners, etc.--and of the various forces (increasing automobility, World War I, desire for racial control) affecting road building. The book is well conceptualized, well organized, and nicely written."
--Kari Frederickson, University of Alabama

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