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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Early Roads And The Laws Governing Them.

Dallas Bogan on 13 September 2004
original article by Dallas Bogan
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

The major north-south superhighway which had been talked about for years became a reality in the 1960's with the construction of Interstates 71 and 75. These new roads ignored old right-of-ways. They cut a mile wide strip across farmlands as it tried to skirt congested areas. They were limited access, with interchanges built at major highways and therefore no traffic lights. Warren county has 36 miles of interstate highway including about 14 miles on I-75, and about 22 miles on I-71"
"Interstate 75 follows the general direction of old U.S. 25. The six-lane Dayton-Cincinnati freeway opened to traffic at 5 p.m. on July 31, 1960. The opening of the expressway took through traffic off Main Street in downtown Franklin. Businesses and industries gradually moved east of town to the exits. There are four exits of I-75 in Warren County, at S.R. 63, S.R. 122, S.R. 123, and S.R. 73." (Franklin in the Great Miami Valley.)
Headed north I-71 exchanges are at Fields-Ertel Road, Western Row Rd., S.R. 741, S.R. 48, S.R. 123, and Wilmington Road. Because of this road Kings Island Amusement Park was built, and Deerfield Township has experienced much growth.
State aid for the turnpike companies was authorized by the Legislative Act of 1836. This act authorized the Governor to subscribe to stocks of companies an amount equal to that subscribed by private individuals. Annual reports were to be submitted to the legislature. This Act stated that no one toll road could be within 20 miles of another parallel toll road.
Because of the State's financial situation in 1844, aid for the roads was stopped. More than $2,000,000 for each turnpike construction had been submitted by the local and state governments. In 1840, there were 21 companies operating in Ohio, although 10 had not erected toll gates at that date.
The Cincinnati, Lebanon and Springfield Turnpike Company, and the Cincinnati, Columbus and Wooster Turnpike Company led all others in toll received.
The turnpike convention in 1844 established a new set of tolls or a standard set of rules for the tolls received:

For every sheep-------------------2 1/2 mills "
" hog------------------------------5 mills "
" head of cattle,6months or older--$.01
" horse, mule or ass-----------------$.03
" horse,mule or ass with rider------$.06 1/2
vehicle of 2 or 4 wheels drawn by an animal---$.12 1/2
" additional animal to such vehicle--$.06 1/2
4-wheeled vehicle including coaches, stages, carriages, barrouches, wagons, etc., drawn by two animals--------------------$.25
sleigh or sled drawn by one animal---$.10
additional animal to such vehicle-----$.06
1/2 for all wagons carrying less than 5,000 pounds with a tire not more than 4 inches
wide, a reduction of 25% from the above rates,
$.31additional toll was charged for loads over 5,000 pounds.

The term sleigh or sled was mentioned in the above toll rates. Josiah Morrow discusses the winter conditions of 1855-56. He writes:

"THE LONG SLEIGHING SEASON. The first question is; What was the exact date of the long sleighing snow which fell on or near Christmas day, sometime between 1853 and 1860? I have heard David Furnas say that the mail from Waynesville to Wilmington was carried ninety days in a sleigh.
"I remember this remarkably long sleighing season when I was a youth in Deerfield Township, but I would not venture to give its date from recollection. From printed sources I find that it was in the winter of 1855-56. The Western Star records that snow fell at Lebanon December 25, 1855, and that for two months there was good sleighing. The exact date of the disappearance of good sleighing cannot be given as it varied in different localities.
"The same winter was remarkably cold, the thermometer falling lowest on Monday, February 4, 1856. The Star records show that in Lebanon the mercury stood at 6 a.m. on that day at from 30 to 32 degrees below zero and at 8 a.m., with the sun shining brilliantly, at 24 below. On that morning I walked at sunrise four miles from my father's and, though I wore an overcoat, I suffered more from the cold than ever before or since."

The Free Turnpike system began as early as 1843. This system was set up by the local governments. A Legislative Act in 1843, gave the county commissioners permission to lay out roads, receive donations, gifts, and collect all taxes levied on land within two miles of each road in question. This was known the "Two Mile Turnpikes." The first general act of this agenda was initiated in 1845.
Plank roads were being generally recognized and built by the Milan and Richland Plank Road Company, the first corporation of this kind. Plank roads were popular mostly in the northern part of the State, especially in the forest areas of Michigan and Canada. Lasting approximately seven years, these roads cost about $2,000 per mile.
An act passed in 1851, established that any five persons could incorporate such a company. The width of the road will be sixty feet, with sixteen feet covered with stone, gravel or wood, and with no ascent over five degrees. No toll gates could be erected within a certain distance of incorporated municipalities. Toll rates should be displayed for public purposes. Any violation of the toll law would assess the violator a fine of $25.
The Act of 1853, set forth regulations for the construction of public roads such as; the laying out of, the opening and vacating of all public roads including township roads. The companies were to keep its roads in constant repair for five consecutive days or a complaint could be registered with the justice of the peace who had power to appoint a reviewing board which in turn would make a decision on the maintenance of the road.
By 1885, most toll roads had been transferred to free turnpikes. In 1866, there were 2,539 miles of toll roads in Ohio and about 1,800 miles of free turnpikes. In 1873, there were 1,502 miles of toll roads and 4,327 miles of free turnpikes. The State had approximately 66,000 miles of roads at that time which included turnpike, plank, state, county and township roads. At this time most roads were dirt, some macadamized and the cities enjoyed cobblestones. The last toll gate was abandoned in 1912.
An interesting sidelight may be noted as having occurred in 1873 with one of the earliest records of traffic recording in Ohio. At a given spot on Second Street in Cincinnati the following vehicle types passed during a ten-hour period (hours of day unknown):

144 coal carts
961 drays
286 two-ox teams
201 two-horse teams
128 four-ox teams
123 four-horse teams
15 six-ox teams
477 one-horse vehicles
2 one engine wagons
1 hose reel
Total 2,388 vehicles

Steubenville in 1882, was the first city in Ohio to use hard-fired clay brick for its street pavement. The first Portland cement concrete laid in Ohio was in Bellfontaine in 1891. James C. Wonders, the city engineer, had the courthouse square paved with this process. This is still in use.
The "horseless carriage" was, at the turn of the century, a new revelation. The condition of the roads were not specifically set up for this manner of travel. The particulars of this venture was automobile versus nature. With the ruts, dips and the uneven road condition the automobile was more or less confined to the locality of the owner. The cities had their own form of government concerning this system.
In 1907, an automobile division of the Secretary of State was established. It is now called the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. A license fee was set up through registrations which called for a $3.00 fee for electric cars and a $5.00 fee for gasoline cars.
The first complete year of registration was in 1908. A total of 10,649 automobiles were listed. The fees totaled $50,745. The total registration jumped to 32,941 in 1910. In 1914, the total number of cars that were licensed were 122,504, which was the first time there were over 100,000 automobiles registered. The total number of registrations in 1920 were 538,090 passenger cars and 82,795 trucks. The first million registrations was in 1923.
Motor fuel was first taxed in 1925 in Ohio when a tax of $.02 was initiated per gallon of gasoline. This tax was to be used for the upkeep of existing roads. In 1927, this tax was raised to $.03 per gallon. In 1932, the Federal Government assessed an additional tax of $.01.
In 1933, a liquid fuel sales tax of $.01 per gallon was levied. This fund was set up to be used for the schools. In 1939, the liquid fuel tax revenue was diverted to the general fund. In 1947, the constitution granted that the liquid fuel tax would be allocated for road purposes.

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This page created 13 September 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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