By Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
It’s always interesting to me to look back at the old advertisements in the Carter County Herald. There are brands that we still recognize today; things like Wrigley’s chewing gum and Rexall pharmaceutical items.
Then there are items that we don’t remember at all, like Bone Dry soft drinks. (Or beer? I’m still not sure what it was, and I’m still curious.)
Then there are the cars.
America was just starting her love affair with the automobile in the early 20th century. Carter County was no different. In 1919 and 1920 the county was excited to see the new Midland Trail (later to be incorporated into US Route 60) open, connecting both Grayson and Olive Hill to neighboring Rowan and Boyd Counties.
Despite that excitement, the Midland Trail wasn’t the only big road project. The papers of 1919 and 1920 are full of stories about improvements to existing roads, the messes made when farmers granted right-of-way through their lands so that county roads could be constructed, and the earth moving projects that resulted in routes that used to be up and down all the way now having “only one hill” and that a “slight” one.
There are also stories about attempts to pay for those improvements with a road tax – which voters did not approve – as well as attempts to get state money for use on new road construction and the improvement of existing roads. The Midland Trail was being constructed with federal funds, and there was a lot of talk about making sure “the feds” built it correctly, with adequate ditching and drainage.
One hundred years on, and readers of the Herald would recognize the same debates about road maintenance and right-of-way that are carried in the Carter County Times.
Maybe, instead of focusing on the state of the roads, the people of modern Carter County could take a cue from the era and purchase a car suited for the roads as they are. In 1920 that car might have been an Overland 4. Available from the Hitchins-Overland Company, in Hitchins and Olive Hill, the Overland 4 boasted “three point cantilever springs” guaranteed to make even the roughest roads ride as smooth as fresh pavement.
Of course there was another option that was fairly popular too. The Ford Runabout. Maybe you’ve heard of that company?
Editor’s Note: This is the 11th in a series of articles drawn from the historical newspaper clippings in the scrapbooks of Jack Fultz. We thank Sally James of Sally’s Flowers in Olive Hill for sharing her uncle’s collected clippings with us and the community. – Jeremy D. Wells, editor, Carter County Times