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Historical Papers by Jabez W. Abell Jr.
from the Cazenovia Republican, 1925-1942
Daniel H. Weiskotten
posted 7/11/2000
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Some Thought Turnpikes Would Ruin Country
by Jabez W. Abell in the Cazenovia Republican
 September 30, 1926
 Please see the introduction
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(typographical errors corrected, additional notes by DHW in square brackets [ ])
Some Thought Turnpikes Would Ruin Country

        It need not excite our wonder that in those days people were anxious for better and speedier means of communication, a better means of getting from and to the new settlements. The construction of roads was of the utmost importance.
        As a turnpike road of that day was regarded as furnishing the best possible facilities for postal and commercial intercourse.  Turnpike companies were early formed to afford the desired relief .  The turnpike fever was as virulent in its day as was the plank road fever at a later day.
        In 1809 there were 67 turnpikes in this state with stock amounting to $5,141,750, also 21 chartered bridge companies with stock amounting to $415,000, being 88 companies with a total stock of $5,556,750, total miles of road 3,071.
        The above is taken from a communication of Dr. DeWitt to the society for the promotion of useful arts.
        When a turnpike had a line of stage coaches run upon it, it seemed that improvement in that direction had found its utmost limit.
        But some thought the world was being turned upside down and that all the wealth of the country would be in the grasp of aristocratic stage proprietors and the bloated turnpike stockholders, insomuch that the liberties our fathers "fout" for would be seriously endangered.
        Some considered the turnpike a nuisance, as letting an undesirable class of people into the country, besides opening it to the importation of all the foreign knickknacks and they had no doubt "there had been as much as a cart load of crockery brought into town."  The outlook was appalling.
        Equally discouraging were the aspects of the times to a man who was known in his day as Vinegas Sloan.  He had a farm in the same county in which Cazenovia was situated at the time and a turnpike road was laid across it, much to his dissatisfaction.  He wouldn't have a farm with a turnpike through it, and sold it and went to Orleans county and as he said, "He had
just got things comfortable around him, when the state built a d---d canal through his farm."  He wouldn't live on a farm with a canal through it and sold it and moved away off into Chautauqua county on a side hill where he thought he was safe from such intrusions for the future, and had just got things comfortable about him again when they "run a g---l d--d railroad right through his house."  He gave it up.  The march of improvement was going at a pace he could not dodge or escape.

END of Jabez W. Abell's "Some Thought Turnpikes Would Ruin Country"