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Good Roads Movement


The Good Roads Movement of the late 1800s and early 1900s sought to establish a good system of roads across the country. Originally, the movement was boosted more by bicyclists rather than motorists. However, as the car caught on, auto enthusiasts also saw the need for good roads. So did communities. The improvement in roads marked a fundamental change.

Elmer T. Judd, North Dakota State Fish and Game Commissioner, alluded to this when he wrote, "To one who has driven over many sections of the state during the past summer, there has come a new appreciation of our well built and well cared for state roads. In a great prairie state such as ours, the man afoot, on horseback, or in a buggy, as were our modes of travel but a few years ago, sometimes found the trip very monotonous.... Yet that method of travel brought him much pleasure; more perhaps, in some ways, than does that of today when, thanks to good cars, good drives and GOOD ROADS, the scenes of the prairie flash by and change so rapidly that the ride gives no opportunity to view the changing picture or to permit any adequate study of the surrounding country."

In 1924, the chief of the United States Bureau of Public Roads, Thomas H. MacDonald, reported that as of March, the federal highways completed in the past eight years totaled over 33,000 miles, with another 14,000 miles soon to follow. Another report estimated 430,000 miles of highways in the United States had received "some degree of improvement" by the beginning of 1924.

On this date, the community of Cando had good roads on the mind as residents learned of a state highway to be routed through Cando. It was an opportunistic development, and the Cando Herald published an editorial that read:

"One of the vital factors in determining what community shall 'get the trade' in coming years is that of road improvement. ...Autos can travel as well in December as in June and July. And everybody has a car of some kind - or a Ford. Distance over good roads has ceased to be anything to be afraid of. "

Nothing to be afraid of, except, perhaps, for the perpetual road work that still continues today.

Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker



Cando Herald, August 7 and 14, 1924