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Many Workers In The Field

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The proposition to generally improve the conntry roads seems to meet with little favor among those who would be most benen1 ted and who must therefore be most depended upon to do the work - viz., the country people. Yet the agitationwhich is being so generally carried on all over the United States seems liki;ly to bear fruit. The comparatively few men whosee the necessity for action, and are willing to do their toward bringing good roads about, will not, you inay be sure, labor in vain. Their efforts will probably result in Wie building in New York state, in Pennsylvania, in Ohio, in Indiana, in Illinois, in Southern Michigan, in Minnesota, in Massachusettü and in California of one or two great thoroughfares which will be under the control of the state in most instances, under control of private corporations in other cases. The agitators are inostly working on an ingenious theory. They figure that if they can compasa the conatruction of one or two good broken stone thoroughfares through the rural distriota the inhabitants, by driving upon them, will be made to appreciate their advantages and the result will be a rovolution of popular feeling in favor of good country roads. Said one of the enthusiasts who lives near Utica, N. Y. : "I spend on an average nearly twenty-f our hours a week in working for reform in the country roads of this state. Why, do you know that within twenty-five miles of the beautiful city of Utica there are public roads over which it i 8 dangerous to drive an ordinary lightly constructed buggy? And they are not byways in sparsely inhabited districts either. They are the umin thoroughfares in one of the most prosperous and richest agricultural regionsin the world. And yet for the biggest part of the year these roads are in a frightful condition. A rain will mako them almost impassablo f rom mud; in dry seasons the wagons have to be dragged through six inches of yielding sand and the dust Í3 enough to suffocate a jwrson. "Aren't they repaired occasionally? Yes, of course they are, and therein Les the greatest aggravation. It's an actual fact that the roads are not made better by the so called repairs, 1 it are really made worse. Load af ter load of gravel is dragged into their center by the farmers who are 'working out their taxes' and duniped there. And there it stays - an ugly heap of little stones and soil, which is seldom leveled by anything but traffic. It not only makes the roads uncomfórtable to ride over, but it makes them absolutely dangerous. Anybody, no matter how good a driver he may be, is ."fcpt to be overturned by it and perhaps have his neck broken on some dark night. No one will drive on it until increased ti afflc at the sides has rendered them impassable. I have known one of these long, irregular mountains of gravel to lay on a much traveled road, occupying the center of the thoroughfare and practically unmarked by wheels, for two months. And the number of loada of hay, etc., which I have known to have been upset by such attempts at repairing I couldn't count on my flngers and toes. "The root of the opposition to road improvement in the rural districts, according to my theory, lies right here. The farmer sees that if the country roads were to be macadamized or telfordized he would have to pay his road taxes in money instead of 'working them out.' I don't know how many states have adopted this pernicions plan of working out road taxes, but I presume it is general. I believe that it has done the farmers more real damage in this state than all the storms that ever were known here put together. The thing that the farmer won't believe Is that if the roads in his county were good his frm would bo enough more profitable so that he conld aff ord to pay his road taxes in money a dozen times over if necessary. And yet it' plain as the nose on his face that if the roads were good his horses could pull more over them, and that if each horse could pull more he wouldn't have to keep so many horsea, and if he had fewer horses he would need fewer men to care for them. Why, there would be a saving in a thousand ways, setting asido the fact that lifo would be more bearable in the country if communicatiou between different parts were made easy. "And then again suppose he wants to sell bis farm somo time? Do you suppose that a sensible man will pay as much for a farm that is separated from the city and the markets by five miles of mud and misery as he would if those five miles were smoothly paved with broken stone or even traversed by good dirt roads? Well, I guess notl Take the case of New Jersey, for instance. There are many miles of Telford roads in that state and what do the farmers say of it? Why, they say that it has increased the profits of their farms by 25 per cent. , and they say that it has increased the cash value of thelr farms by 35 per cent. , and they say that it has made life on a farm pleasant instead of irksome. "I propose to keep hammering away on the subject until something breaks. May be it will be my pocketbook and inay be it will be the wall of intolerance and nonsense which so many otherwise sensible men have built around themselves. I hope and believe that it will bethe latter." There are a good many men like the man quoted, and their words and acts will leave their impression. Isaac B. Potter, a prominent New Yorker, one of the offlcers of the New York State Roads Improvement association, and an official of the League of American Wheelmen, is preparing a bock on roads improvement. He will have it published and copyrighted, and give the League of American Wheelmen the privilege of distributing as many copies as they choose f ree. Af terward it will be placed on sale. In it he will deal with the subject in a commonsense way, avoiding technicalities and making everything plain. As Mr. Potter is a sensible man and a good writer his book will be interesting and to the point.


Old News
Ann Arbor Courier