Friday, February 15, 2019

Paving Debate Swamps Talk about Gas Tax in 1919; More on Roosevelt Highway

In the run up to the gas tax, it was all about paving. It has remained very interesting how little the gas tax was contentious or merited press.

February 13th, 1919
Debate on patented pavements and pavement royalties dominated everything. There are  many more articles, usually two-column spreads on the front page, and they are longer and get bigger headlines. (I'm not very interested in the history of paving technology or the history of the paving business, so there's no attempt here to interpret the sweep or significance of the debate. Though it does seem significant that at least some of the rhetoric participates in Progressive Era criticisms of trusts, monopoly, graft, and big business.)

January 20th, 1919

January 31th, 1919

Story continues, gas tax buried deep!

February 1st, 1919

February 3rd, 1919

February 8th, 1919

February 13th, 1919

February 14th, 1919
What was the Roosevelt Highway?

You may also recall one of the caricatures.

Highways and Roads in the 1919 Legislative Session
via Murray Wade from January 31st, 1919
The Roosevelt Highway was a big deal it turns out! We know it today as Highway 101, and the main action on it occurred later. At least in popular culture, we have lost the tie to Teddy Roosevelt. Instead, we think of it around Conde McCullough, his bridges, and the views.

Ben Jones Bridge, Library of Congress
The bridge across Rocky Creek is named the Ben Jones Bridge, seen on the left holding his signature bill. (Here's a great portfolio of images, and more on the bridge.)

B.F. Jones in Oregon Voter, Vol. 31 (1922)

Two page spread on Roosevelt Coast Military Highway
Oregon Voter, Vol. 20 (May 31, 1919)
It was a big enough deal to get a Sunday Magazine piece in the New York Times.

New York Times, July 13th, 1919
But the matching Federal funds didn't come in 1919, and it took much longer to construct.

(See Oregon Encyclopedia for more on its history in the 1920s and 30s. ODOT is also working on a project to improve the coast bike route, which is forbidding and works for only the most fearless of cyclists. But it remains to be seen how serious they are. It might just be bells and whistles on the margins and not anything structural that could disturb the fundamental autoism of the current highway and route.)

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