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  • Writer's pictureRochelle Gridley

Perils of the 1915 Roads

​In 1915 the Pantagraph was filled with such minutiae as the fact that Mr. and Mrs. W I Curtis of Colfax travelled to Champaign in their automobile over the weekend but were not able to return until Monday because the roads were too bad. The paper also published a report of the roads conditions, so that drivers could plan their travels.

Automobile owners formed clubs and one issue of great interest to the clubs was the condition of the roads. In 1915, a concrete road running from Chicago to St. Louis was a subject of much discussion with car owners as well as the business men of McLean County. Country roads were being improved by oiling them, but many times the cost of this improvement was gathered through donations or stock subscriptions.

We can also see what kind of people were driving automobiles in 1915. As noted in the Histories pages on this website, in April, 1909 the Pantagraph printed the names of every person who had purchased an automobile in McLean County. There were about 200 car owners at that time and a series of ads in the paper next to the list that showed automobiles ranging in price from $1,000 to $2,750. In 1915 the interest in who owned an auto and what models were available was just as keen. But in 1915 the car advertised alongside the "Gossip of the Garage" was a Dodge available for just $785. The column enumerated the people who had most recently taken delivery of an auto and that list included John Baum, a locomotive engineer, and J H Whittington, a master painter in the Alton shops.

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