Friday, April 30, 2010

The Demise of the Dirt road

Don't get me wrong...we need paved roads, but don't pave ALL of 'em. When I was a kid (in the 50's) we could ride bicycles for hours on dirt roads...down to the hole in the wall dam on the Oconee River, up to Arnold's Store for a 5 cent co-cola, if we had a nickle. I remember the first school bus I rode in the first grade got stuck on the Whitehead Road 6 miles from the center of Athens, Ga. one fine rainy spring week...that's when the Navy Supply School was the "Demonstration School", or the Georgia Normal SChool for Women, or something like that.. We got rained out of school for a whole week, and no mud days! We had to make up the time by going to school on Saturday. We weren't to happy about dirt roads then.

I remember when Janice and I were looking for a house, MY prerequisite was the house be at the end of a long dirt road.  We had a few agents looking, and they would call, all excited, saying they found a place on a dirt road...And wonderful news! The County says they are gonna pave it next summer, isn't that exciting. It took us 3 years to find the right road and the right house, but it's 3/4 a mile of a small paved county road, and I love it.

The next part of this post concerns a friend of mine who is being pounded on the head with a Government with limited funds who wnats to buy right of wasy for notheing and spend lots of money paving the "Road to Nowhere" as Sara Palin would say. He lives on his grandfather's farm  on the same dirt road that's b een there since it was a wagon road to downtown Sanford and Sawdust. Population?  Very Few.

The  road  is now only a shortcut known only to locals that runs for less than a mile between two little used tar and gravel roads. Newer roads have replaced the old wagon roads. His dirt road does have a church on it... used only on Sunday and Wed. reason for going to the expense of paving a little used dirt my mind.

My opinion is that a dirt road is easier to maintain than a tar and cannot effectively patch a pot hole in a tar and gravel... and most county road paving is done as cheaply as possible, with just enough prep work to make it passable with out gettin stuck in the rain...and if it gets a pot hole, good luck in patching just gets bigger and bigger each year until you have to surface the whole thing again...I lived in West Virginia long enough to know that.  A lightly travel road such as David's doesn't need much maintainance A road grader once or twice a year over a dirt road and it's like brand new for a while. Ditches are easier to clean out with a grader, too.

On the down side... many a housewife who worked hard on the wash in the back yard cussed every car that came by blowing dust on the new freshly washed clothes on the line. Ingenious husbands took action. One trick was to pour burnt motor oil on the part in front of your house to keep down the dust, a practice the EPA would frown on today. Some  put rock salt on the road to draw moisture which kept dust down. One the up side, chicken dinner courtesy of Ford or Chevrolet was not to be frowned upon. For some reason chickens loved dirt roads, and cars loved to hit 'em. Roadkill Chicken Pie, yum, yum.

So, David, I'm with you, leave what few dirt roads we have left alone,  We should have designated dirt folks that know how to run a road grader won't forget how to fix 'em.

I'm telling ya'll. You need to leave David's road alone. It ain't hurtin' nothing by being dirt.


This Sunday, at our joint Spring Pottery Sale at  David Morgan;s house, he informed me Madison County, Ga has 170 miles of dirt roads...I don't believe him, but I will follow up and get back witcha.

170 miles of dirt road! Man the old '54 Chevy will love to hear that...shake all those rusted bolts loose. I think I'll go get Jacob and let him ride in the back of old Blue with his dogs, and go to the creek and look for crawfish...Opps, I forgot, you can't ride in back of a pickup legally anymore, can you? You might put your eye out...


  1. We lived in Gwinnett County for 37 years. After 15 years (1985)we intentionally moved onto a dead end, dirt/gravel road. At that time there were about 75 miles of dirt roads left in Gwinnett. Except for the UPS trucks, near everybody who came down our road lived life at a little slower pace. After 19 years, the County paved the road. We knew it was time to move on and a few years later we became your neighbor.


  2. I wish I had a dirt road. All I got is a gravel pad for my car to sit on.