Fitzgerald appalled by ‘worst roads in the world’

“After Durham the sun came out and shone heavily down upon the worst roads in the world….If you can imagine an endless rocky gully, rising frequently in the form of unnavigable mounds to a slope of sixty degrees,  a gully covered with from an inch to a foot of grey water mixed with solemn soggy clay of about the consistency of cold cream and the adhesiveness of triple glue; if you drove an ambulance over shelled roads in France and can conceive of all the imperfections of all those roads placed with forty miles — then you have a faint conception of the roads of upper North Carolina….”

— From “The Cruise of the Rolling Junk” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, a somewhat fictionalized account of a road trip the Fitzgeralds took from Westport, Conn., to Montgomery, Ala., in 1920.  Serialized in Motor magazine (March-May 1924)

Although the Good Roads Association began pushing for improvements early in the century, it was the 1920s before the state wrested control of highway construction from the counties and began authorizing unprecedentedly large bond issues and gasoline tax increases to finance its ambitions.

By the end of the decade Scott Fitzgerald would have encountered considerably fewer challenges motoring through the “Good Roads State.”

 

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