Mr. King’s Good Dirt Roads

The road crews have been working for some time in our city.  We complain about the traffic cones and the delays, but we forget what it meant to have a road crew at work in the past century.  Here’s a reminder from the June 21, 1901 Skidmore New Era:

Good Dirt Roads.

The question of how to make good roads from the ordinary soil is a problem that civil engineers gave up long ago as being impossible.  Experts, especially state or national, always figure out some almost impractical way to make good roads for their methods are too expensive.

But the problem has been solved, not theoretically but practically.  Mr. D. Ward King living four miles south of here, being a sort of a good roads crank as well as a successful farmer, having attended a good many good roads conventions came to the conclusion that all the theories advanced by road experts were wrong unless one had an unlimited supply of money to draw from, so he worked out a theory of his own and put it in practice and now after three years work he has the finest and best dirt road in northwest Missouri.

Mr. King’s road machine – if it may be dignified with that title – was made by splitting a box elder log, about 10 inches in diameter and 10 or 9 feet long, then boring three holes through each piece, they were fastened together with cross pieces about 2 or three feet long on which a board or two can be laid across to ride on it is a short of wheeless machine.  A chain is fastened in front to hitch to.  It can be run square across the road for leveling, or by hitching near one end it will run so as to move the dirt towards the center.

Mr. King says he always goes over the road right after a rain, but the latter part of winter is really the best time, when it freezes of nights and thaws a little in the day.

Township boards and road overseers would do well to investigate Mr. King’s method of working the road.  If half the work that is now done on the roads was applied after Mr. King’s method we would have good roads nearly all over this part of the state in a year or two.

We note that Mr. King later was awarded U.S. Patents 884497 and 1102671.

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