272 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 21 halftones, 4 maps, notes, bibl., index
Road Building and the Making of the Modern South, 1900-1930
2015 Malcolm Bell, Jr. and Muriel Barrow Bell Award, Georgia Historical Society
A 2014 Book of Interest, Business History Conference
2014 GHRAC Award for Excellence, Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council
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.
“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.”
“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
"[This] well-written and accessible account of the Dixie Highway [shows that] road building is so much more than dirt and engineering."
--Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
"Complex and fascinating. From accurate highway signage to the emergence of maps, she shows how people imagined, financed, and built roads in the American South. In her hands, the story of infrastructure development weaves in and out of stories of southern politics, race relations, and economic development, clearly showing, as she says, that 'road building was a crucial linchpin in the transition to the modern South.'"
--Journal of Southern History
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