Nebraskaland March 2019

NEBRASKAland Magazine is dedicated to outstanding photography and informative writing with an engaging mix of articles and photos highlighting Nebraska’s outdoor activities, parklands, wildlife, history and people.

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March 2019 • Nebraskaland 45 roads. It took decades of promotion to convince enough voters and lawmakers that this was a good idea. Nobody wanted their taxes to go up. Most roads long remained unimproved as a result. The bicycle craze faded, but automobiles grew more popular year by year. In 1916, the number of cars registered in Nebraska topped 100,000. By then, local groups were working with multi-state organizations to promote "automobile trails" – the beginnings of the modern highway system. Roads such as the Lincoln Highway (more-or-less the future U.S. Highway 30), the Detroit-Lincoln-Denver or D-L-D Highway (U.S. 6), the Meridian Road (U.S. 81), and dozens of others were cobbled together from existing local routes, marked by painting telephone poles, and promoted through maps and guidebooks. Here's how the Automobile Blue Book described a section of the Meridian Road between Norfolk and Pierce in 1912: "Turn left from business center and at the fork ... bear left, following the angling road straight out of city through edge of Hadar ... bearing right with road ... Jog left and take fi rst right. Turn left 1 mile, then right ½ mile. Turn left 1 mile into Pierce." Later, concrete markers were added to guide adventurous motorists. Sharp-eyed travelers can still spot some of these markers along backroads around the state. The federal system of numbered highways was adopted in 1925, transforming the old automobile trails into U.S. highways. That year, Nebraska adopted a gasoline tax to raise money for roads. Auto travel gradually became less of an adventure, but faster and more reliable. Adapted from "The Good Roads Movement in Nebraska" by L. Robert Puschendorf, from the Winter 2015 issue of Nebraska History. Visit History Nebraska's website at the ld Polk County was known for its good roads, which were overseen by a county highway commissioner and this road crew. History Nebraska RG2407-5-3

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