Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Good Roads

The need for good roads has always existed in populous communities. “Improve the roads” seems to be a constant and familiar cry from taxpayers. One hundred years ago, this article showed Bossier Parish's actions to improve roads at that time. It further describes what road maintenance looked like before the advent of paved roads. Articles like this reveal what life was like in the past and how we've progressed.

Bossier-Banner Progress Jan. 27, 1921

“The residents of Bossier Parish are apparently tired of floundering around in the mud and are getting ready to construct good, hard-surface roads from one end of the parish to the other. That much is to be seen as a result of the meeting of the new good roads committee held here Monday, and from the sentiment that led up to the holding of the meeting. Of the twelve members of the committee only one was absent, and it is reassuring to note that all present worked in harmony and expressed themselves as favoring the voting of a mammoth bond issue for the entire parish, the abolishing of all present road districts, the establishment of a parish wide road district, and the taking up of all indebtedness of the present road districts with proceeds out of the new fund.

Roadscraper/grader seen on North Cotton Belt Street, Plain Dealing, La. c 1910s
Bryce Turnley Collection: 1997.062.014

“At the time the road districts were created it was seen that some portions of the parish were not ready for hard-surface roads and the tax to follow. One by one the three districts were brought into existence and the greater portion of the contemplated mileage has long since been undertaken and completed. These roads, of course, are not as yet paid for, but for several years payment has regularly been made on them. Residents of those sections of the parish not in either of the districts will have that advantage in coming into the new proposed district for the entire parish, to say nothing about the past privilege of traveling over the improved roads at will without outlay at all.

Rumely Tractor used for Road Building c 1912-1914. Beulah Findley Collection: 1997.054.120

“The Banner has long advocated good roads and it is a pleasure for the writer to chronicle at this time the ripened sentiment of the people of the parish as a whole that has led up to this movement for better roads throughout the entire parish in as near as possible. Good roads give to a community that essential stamp of progress and prosperity and indicate to all comers an enlightened people. Good roads stand for about everything our churches and schools do not, and they lead up to them.

Road Crew Camp c 1900-1910s.
Scanland Collection: 0000.004.076

“The desire for better roads is not a new sensation here in Bossier Parish. They have been wanted and sought after for a long, long time, but we have not labored in the right direction nor have we wisely spent our road funds. We are told that it has been about thirty-three years since the old system of summoning hands (everybody) to turn out with wagons, plows, axes and other tools to work the roads has been abolished, and since that time from $30,000 to $35,000 has annually been spent on the roads of the parish. If you will stop to figure it out you will find the total a vast sum – something in excess of a million dollars and we have but little to show for it. These are the figures that have set the representative taxpayers of the parish to thinking: and they are coupled with the fact that automobiles demand good roads, going to revolutionize our system of road construction and bring rods of a better type into every populous community of the parish.

“Just now public sentiment seems ripe for such an undertaking as is suggested. The people of the parish are ready for better roads, and they are going to come; and if there are those who are going to oppose the movement because they fear a slight increase in taxes they had better get busy now, if they think they can do anything toward checking the tide of forward thought in this direction – but we think they cannot.”

What do you want to know about Bossier Parish’s history? Visit, call, or email the Bossier Parish Library History Center for help with your research. We are at 2206 Beckett Street, Bossier City, 318-746-7717,

By: Amy Robertson

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