Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
It seems you can hardly go to a city council or fiscal court meeting without seeing someone asking for improvements to their neighborhood or community. Fiscal court gets requests for paving or gravel on roads. Grayson and Olive Hill get requests for streetlights or speed bumps or road signs. It should come as no surprise that none of this is new.
Back in 1905 the original Olive Hill Times reported that folks in town were asking for a streetlight on East Main Street. The article complained that the town’s “leading business men (sic) who pay into the town treasury probably as large amount of taxes as any,” were “forced to plod along… through the mud, without the aid of a light.”
Others were benefiting from streetlights already, according to the article, but those working on East Main were feeling left out.
Eight years on down the road, in 1913, the streetlight issue had ostensibly been resolved. But roads – those perennial sources of complaint – were still an issue. We’ve talked before about the Midland Trail and plans for its construction through 1919 and 1920. But in 1913 it was muddy roads that folks had issues with. In the 1905 story one of the things that local businessmen had to deal with, in addition to walking home in the dark, was the mud. It was no different in 1913. The Progressive speaks of several issues with muddy roads and slides on the roads between Olive Hill and Grayson throughout that year. But their tongue was firmly planted in cheek in March of that year when they teased about there being no truth to the story of a “drummer,” or traveling salesman, “emerging from the warmth of an afternoon train,” to find himself vanishing in the mud as he attempted to cross the same muddy Main Street referenced in the 1905 article.
Carter County may still have more than there share of dirt and gravel roads in the county, and may still have to deal with slides in the rainy season. But, with roads through town now paved, no one thankfully has to worry about disappearing completely in the mud while crossing the street. Or even of being “merely submerged to the arm-pits.”
We may always want more and better, but at least we’ve had some progress down over the last 100 years.
Editor’s Note: This is the 29th in a series of articles drawn from historical newspaper clippings.