Flagler County Historical Society

Introduction

Old Brick RoadA Cultural Resource Management Plan for Old Dixie Highway

It may well be the longest existing portion of a road system of great national significance in the early 20th century.

Old Brick RoadA Cultural Resource Management Plan for Old Dixie Highway

Old Brick Road (Dixie Highway) is 10.6 miles between SR204 and Espanola. 8.6 miles of it lies in Flagler County. It may well be the longest existing portion of a road system of great national significance in the early 20th century. It is heavily used by logging trucks yet still survives.

(Section scanned from the report.)

A Cultural Resource Management Plan for Old Dixie Highway, Flagler County Florida for the Flagler County Board of Commissioners, Bunnell Florida November 2004 by Marsha A. Chance, Curt M. Wimpee, Sidney P. Johnston ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES INC. Jacksonville FL. (section copy IV – original Flagler County History Annex)

IV HISTORY OF THE ROADWAY page 14

Northeast Florida has a long history of road building projects that extends into the colonial period. In the first Spanish period (1565-1763), the Crown’s officials cut trails to the west and north between St. Augustine and the St. Johns River, and south to Matanzas Inlet. The occupying British (1763-1784) under General James Grant found only a “few narrow routes…often impassible in rainy weather and fit only for foot or horse traffic under optimal conditions” Directed by Grant and James Moultrie, the British completed the King’s Road between New Smyrna and Colerain, Georgia in 1775. One observer, Reverend John Forbes, commented that the “road really may with propriety be called the King’s Highway: it forms a wide beautiful avenue, not a stump or tree to be found” Characterized by a team of Florida historians as “Florida’s first highway,” the King’s Road proved costly to maintain and by 1821 long stretches of it “had disappeared, submerged beneath swamps or overgrown by forests (Adams et al, 1997, pp.2, 23).

During Florida’s territorial (1821-1845) and statehood periods, the Congress only grudgingly granted federal assistance for internal improvements in the form of canals, railroads, and plank roads and turnpikes. Most supporters of internal improvements came from the Northeast and Midwest. In the South, counties controlled the abolishment, creation, improvement, and operation of public roads. The states regarded public roads largely as local business. Antebellum southerners typically opposed any federal assistance for internal improvements, in part, because they theorized increased federal spending would translate into higher tariffs and taxes. In addition, they feared that the same reasoning that applied to federal funds associated with the control of a state’s bridges, canals, and roads provided the national government with the necessary impetus to usurp state’s rights, violate the Constitution, and even permit the Congress to set policies associated with slavery (Preston, 1991, pp. 19-20; Paxson, 1946, p. 240). Consequently, few federal funds supported F1orida’s nascent road system. The federal government completed a military trail between Pensacola and St. Augustine in 1826, but maintenance costs limited its life, and sections of it soon became impassable. The Congress authorized funds to improve and reopen the King’s Road in 1827, which also experienced little use. Most of Florida’s antebellum road construction occurred as a result of petitions and effective lobbying by property owners and elected officials to the state and federal governments. The state apportioned small sums in the 1820s for the Bellamy Road between St. Augustine and Tallahassee. An 1824 state law stipulated the construction of roads from Cape Sable north along both coasts, daunting projects that never moved out of the planning stage. The Second Seminole War (1835-1842) provided a primary impetus for additional road building in the territory. An extensive network of roads crisscrossed the region, but most were little more than trails, which in isolated regions returned to their primitive state within several years of the war’s end. Albert Rose, a historian with the Bureau of Public Roads, identified the El Camino Real as one of the nation’s first transcontinental road systems, stretching between St. Augustine, Florida; Sonoma, California; and Vera Cruz, Mexico in 1836 (Preston 1991, pp. 3-4; Tebeau 1971, pp. 140-141; Boyd 1935, pp. 72-106; Rose 1953, pp.59-60).

Wagon trails characterized Florida’s road system throughout the late-nineteenth century, when railroad companies built hundreds of miles of tracks throughout the state. Generous land grants offered by the federal and state governments encouraged private railroad companies to construct tracks, but paid far less attention to public roads. Consequently, road construction largely fell upon local farmers and land owners with property adjacent to existing or proposed roads, in association with county governments. ln the decades following the Civil War, each former Confederate state enacted legislation that required all male citizens to conduct work on public roads, generally for a period of ten days, unless exempted by law. Typically, counties established road districts and appointed committees who made recommendations for improvements or new roads predicated on petitions from residents. in the rural South, some farmers could pay their taxes by spending a day or two improving the county’s roads. The proceedings recorded in virtually every county in Florida during the late nineteenth century are replete with references to the abandonment, establishment, and improvement of roads, in addition to contending with prisoners and processing elections returns (Preston 1991, pp. 19-20).

Federal spending on the nation’s road system and in Florida began during the Progressive Era, a period that roughly extends between 1896 and 1919. Historians most often associate the interval With reform movements in business, education, government, and labor. The era brought substantial changes to Florida’s landscape, including land reclamation, the expansion of roads, railroads, and citrus groves, and a building boom that touched cities and towns throughout the state. Local proponents of road construction initially conceptualized paved highways as farm-to- market corridors that linked isolated farming communities with towns and urban centers. Eventually those advocates recast highway construction as regional and even national tourist corridors (Preston 1991, pp. 19-20; Tebeau 1971, pp. 293-308, 327-343).

During the era, F1orida’s population increased nearly two-fold, rising from 464,639 in 1895 to 921,618 in 1915. in 1897, under the auspices of the Orlando Board of Trade, a Good Roads Congress convened in Orlando. Although the convention formed the Florida Good Roads Association, it had little impact initially. In 1909, the state claimed 17,579 miles of public roads. The vast majority, however, were either unimproved sand or finished with pine straw or other degradable surfaces. The most common improvements consisted of packed sand-clay composites (581 miles), marl rock or stone (278 miles), gravel (242 miles), and shell (110 miles). With the exception of several miles of concrete roads in Duval County, none was either brick or concrete. St. Johns County claimed 200 miles of public roads of which sixteen miles had been improved with either shell or sand-clay composites (Davis 1925, p. 327; Tebeau, 1971, pp. 293-308, 327- 343; Blackman 1927, p.44).

Florida’s local municipal governments were the fifirst to employ more permanent materials– asphalt, brick, concrete, or macadaın–for their streets. In 1893, the City of Jacksonville paved seven miles of its streets with vitrifiedfivitrified bricks, one of the earliest examples of brick paved streets in the state. By 1905, many of the state’s largest cities had initiated brick paving programs for their municipal streets. Completed in 1912, Florida’s first rural highway paved with brick extended from New York Avenue in Jacksonville to the Duval County line, and later was extended to Orange Park. The county turned to the Graves Brick Company of Birmingham, Alabama for its brick pavers. Later, the Graves Company supplied millions of bricks for other highway paving projects elsewhere in Florida. Most of the bricks used to pave Florida’s rural highway came from Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee brick manufacturers, including Augusta Block; Coaldale Block; Copeland & lnglis; Graves; Reynolds Block; Robbins; Rockmart; and Southern Clay Manufacturing Company. Lobbying by automobile associations, road builders, local governments, chambers of commerce, and civic organizations resulted in the Florida Legislature establishing the State Road Department in 1915. Governor Park Trammel signed the legislation and appointed fifive board members to develop a state highway system. Despite the creation of the Department, the construction of rural highways largely remained the responsibility of counties until the l920s (USDA, 1912, pp. 16, 52; Davis, 1925 p. 327; Preston 1991, pp. 19-20; Tebeau 1971, pp. 293-308, 327-343; Blackman 1924, p. 44; Marder 2002, pp. 4-5).

In the interval, three important pieces of federal legislation provided the impetus for improved roads throughout the nation: Bureau of Public Roads in 1893, Rural Free Delivery in 1896, and the Federal Aid Road Act of 1916. Established by the Congress in 1893, the Bureau of Public Roads was largely educational and investigatory. The agency scrutinized various road types then being constructed by counties and states, collected information on road materials from contractors and universities, and published the results in articles and bulletins. The bureau’s information examined asphalt, brick, concrete, macadam, and other materials then used to build roads. Associated with the U. S. Post Office, Rural Free Delivery provided the first national impetus for the construction of a system of federal roads. Most farmers were delighted with mail service at their homes, and not having to pick up their mail at distant post offices. A post office policy that prevented the delivery of mail on any post road declared unfit for travel by a postman encouraged those same farmers to repair bridges, grade rutted roadbeds, and clear ditches for adequate drainage, or risk losing their post road service to another location. The Federal Aid Road Act of 1916 provided the first state-federal legislation and funding mechanisms for the construction of roads throughout the country (Preston 1991, pp. 19-20; Kendricks 1964, pp. 14- 15, 18).

The legislation and government agencies were responses, in part, to the appearance of automobiles and a new form of tourists, the so-called motorists who increasingly forged into the countryside on rutted trails. By 1915, Henry Ford had manufactured his millionth Model-T. Hundreds and then thousands of automobiles annually arrived in Florida, the fifirst of which appeared in the state about 1896. Automobile dealers .published advertisements in the Jacksonville Florida Times Union in 1903, the same year that automobile racing began on the hard-packed sands of Daytona Beach and Ormond Beach. Speed trials and racing on the beach encouraged others less daring to drive through northeast Florida, journeys fraught with danger on the nascent road system, which then was little more than Wagon trails fifinished with clay, shell, or pine straw. Three hundred persons registered automobiles in the state in 1906 and nearly double that number in 1908. By 1911, automobiles registered in Florida were required to display license tags. Nationally, automobile registration reached 1,25 8,062 in 1913. Within several years Duval, Polk, St. Johns, and Volusia Counties, among others, issued bonds for the construction of paved roads. One of the largest intrastate road-building projects of the era was the Scenic Highlands Highway. Activity began in eamest in 1914 with the sale of bonds, which enabled Polk County to build more miles of paved roads than any other county in Florida. By 1916, Polk County claimed 217 miles of asphalt roads. Polk County°s highway was part of the larger Scenic Highlands Highway, which extended along the Highlands Ridge through DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, and Polk Counties (Paxson 1946, pp. 243, 248; Tebeau 1971, pp. 332, 343; Hetherington 1928, pp. 174-177; Kendrick 1964, p. 57; Cutler 1923, pp. 454-456; Davis 1925, pp. 379-380).

Concomitant with the proliferation in automobiles, increased tourism, and early federal activities were several private associations that sought to encourage travel and lobbied for better roads in the South. Among the personalities behind these organizations were Seymour Cunningham, Carl G. Fisher, R. H. “Pathfinder” Johnston, and John Asa Rountree. Ralph Owen of New York ran his Oldsmobile between the nation’s financial capital and Daytona Beach, a famous run in 1907 that the Jacksonville Florida Times Union attributed to the beginning of the Good Roads Movement in Florida. Charles Glidden, a Boston millionaire and automobile promoter, conducted highly publicized tours throughout the nation for the American Automobile Association (AAA), including a 1911 trip that extended between New York City and Jacksonville, Florida. These people and organizations were part of the larger Good Roads Movement that swept the nation in the 1905 and early twentieth century. Representing commercial interests and tourist markets, good roads advocates generally came from urban centers rather than from agrarian reformers in rural regions. Largely a southern phenomenon, the Good Roads Movement spawned the creation of highway associations, which designated routes after revered heroes or geographical locations, including the Andrew Jackson Highway, Atlantic Coastal Highway, Bankhead National Highway, Capital Highway, Dixie Highway, Jefferson Davis Highway, Robert E. Lee Highway, Lincoln Highway, and Old Spanish Trail. The road movement improved accessibility into the South, but did little to address its persistent rural poverty and agrarian economy (Preston 1991; Florida Times Union 1907).

The brainchild of Indiana millionaire and Miami Beach developer Carl G. Fisher, the Dixie Highway extended from Sault St. Marie, Michigan to Miami Beach, Florida. A consummate promoter, Fisher never spent a dime to build the Dixie Highway; instead, he promoted the regional, hard-surface, all-weather highway concept in the Midwest and South, including Florida. Then, he persuaded automobile manufacturers and automobile associations of the profits to be gained from the idea, waiting as thousands of tourists flocked south to Florida, and local governments scrambled to build good paved roads in the hopes of being included in the designated route (Florida Times Union 1907; Paxson 1946, pp. 239-240).

In the opening decade of the twentieth century, Fisher created the two-and-one-half-mile Indianapolis Speedway and sold his Prest-O-Lite Company to Union Carbide Corporation for $9,000,000. Seeking new investment opportunities, in 1910 he met John S. Collins of Miami Beach, from whom he purchased real estate and established a business relationship, and then made plans to promote the area as a tourist haven. Several years later, he began promoting the concept of a transcontinental highway, the name for which he suggested as the Lincoln Highway. In 1912, he helped organize the Lincoln Highway Association in Indianapolis, and eventually the $10,000,000 project connected New York with San Francisco. Next, to link the Midwest with the South, and more specifically his real estate investment in Miami Beach, Fisher organized the Dixie Highway Association (Preston 1991, pp. 60-63; New York Times, 16 July 1939). Conceptualized as a north-south automobile corridor, he introduced the interstate highway idea in November 1914 at an American Roads Congress held in Atlanta. Initially proposed as the “Cotton Belt Route,” the highway concept was endorsed by the governors of Georgia, Indiana, and Tennessee. In April 1915, they convened a north-south highway organization meeting in Chattanooga, a convention attended by 5,000 people, including business leaders and politicians from Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. The convention adopted the name of the Dixie Highway Association and agreed that the governors of each state involved would appoint two members to serve in the Association. A proposed route of the Dixie Highway set off a spirited and often rancorous debate between villages, towns, and cities throughout the Midwest and South about which route would best represent the Dixie Highway. Interests in Atlanta and Savannah sparred over the best route through the Peach State, a similar argument that erupted between interests in Orlando and Tampa, and Daytona Beach and Jacksonville. At a subsequent meeting in May 1915, the Dixie Highway Association settled on a dual route system, divided into eastern and western alignments. Guided largely by Fisher and Clark Howell, a prominent Atlanta businessman, the Association devised this strategy, in part, to encourage participation in advertising the Dixie Highway to bring as many tourists as possible into urban centers in Indianapolis, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, and parallel alignments in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. In August 1915, Carl Fisher led the “Dixie Highway’ Pathfinders” in a fifteen car cavalcade from Chicago to Miami .

. Consisting of 3,989 miles, the dual route system also provided Florida with east coast and central peninsula highways. The Florida route proved especially daunting, in part, because the state represented one of the most undeveloped areas along its alignment, an automobile neo-frontier replete with “individualism, naturalism, and even heroism” in the language of historian Howard Preston (199l; pp. 52-58).

Florida’s first statewide Dixie Highway Association meeting was held in Jacksonville in September 1915. Governor Park Trammell welcomed officials from the Association, and hundreds of good roads proponents throughout the state and from Georgia. In October 1915, the Dixie Highway Association embarked on a seventy-five car “motorcade” of automobiles that covered 1,800 miles between Chicago and Miami Beach. On an inspection tour, the motorcade consisted of organizers M. M. Allison, Carl Fisher, W. S. Gilbreath, and other Dixie Highway officials. In some states, the motorcade included governors and elected officials who used the occasion and inspection tour to encourage counties to accelerate road-building activities and assure Dixie Highway officials of their willingness to cooperate with the Association. Essentially following the modern-day aligmnent of U. S. Highway l in Florida, the eastem route entered the state at Jacksonville, and extended through St. Augustine, Hastings, Ormond Beach, and southward to Miami Beach. The western route ran through Tallahassee, Perry, High Springs, Micanopy, Lady Lake, Orlando, Winter Haven, Arcadia, and Fort Myers. In addition, east-west connectors joined the main highways: the connectors included Macon, Georgia to Jacksonville, Florida; J acksonville to Tallahassee; Hastings to Orlando; Kissimmee to Melbourne; and Arcadia to West Palm Beach (Preston 1991; pp. 52-28; New York Times 1915; Florida Times Union 1915, pp. 29-30).

Based in Chattanooga, the Dixie Highway Association published a monthly magazine that reported on the progress of construction along the route. Other issues extolled the benefits of touring Florida by automobile. The Association sponsored the installation of highway signs to identify the route of the Dixie Highway. A long rectangular shape placed vertically on a post, the signs were executed with a black, red, and white color scheme. Visually divided into thirds, the signs bore a central red band flanked by white and trimmed with black borders between the colors and along the edges. The initials “DH” appeared as white cutouts in the central red band. Although the Association did not contribute financially to the construction of the highway bearing its name, it did lobby the Congress for funding. Challenged with several river crossings and swamps, residents and officials in Nassau County, Florida benefited from this process and received $25,000 in federal aid for construction of the Dixie Highway. Most counties, however, sponsored road construction activities through bond issues. Construction accelerated during World War I, when the nation’s railroads struggled to meet shipping demands, and concerns arose about safeguarding the nation through its highway system. In the South alone, approximately thirty-five military installations and forts, including several in Florida, found the railroad often failed to meet their transportation demands. In addition to lobbying by automobile associations, pressures from the military and trucking companies spurred highway construction. In 1918, the Automobile Club of America published a “Dixie Tour,” a guidebook that directed motorists on a 1,300 mile route between New York City and Miami Beach. That year, the Automobile Association of America published a directory that fumished information on 24,000 miles of roads throughout the nation (Preston 1991 pp. 52-58; www.us-highwavs.com/dixiehwv.htm)

By 1920, Writer Florence Pettee reported in Motor Travel that Florida “no longer lay beyond arduous and impassable sands, behind impenetrable morasses of red gumbo and just around the corner from Stygian cypress swamps and other road unpleasantries.” During the early-l920s, new alignments of the Dixie Highway Were developed by some local governments, in part, to shoıten distances between cities, replace older poorly built roads, and to open new areas to development. Organized in 1915, the Florida State Road Department supplied fiınding for hundreds of miles of highways and roads by 1925, including some stretches of the Dixie Highway. Subdivisions and businesses created along the highway often incorporated the Dixie rubric within their respective names. By 1926, the Dixie Highway was largely complete (Figure 9). That year, the national government implemented a federal highway system. Standardized black-and-white signs fabricated as shields beariıig federal route numbers replaced older signage displaying the older highway names. The Lincoln Highway largely became U. S. Highway 30, most of the National Highway was numbered U. S. Highway 40, and U. S. Highway 90 largely followed the alignment of the El Camino Real and the Old Spanish Trail (Preston 1991, pp.52- 58, 115, 116; www.us-highways.com/dixiehwyhtni; Kendrick 1964, pp. 252-253; Paxson 1946, pp.250)

The Dixie Highway, however, because of its dual mainlines, carried no single federal highway number. In Florida alone, the former Dixie Highway routes extended along parts of federal highways 1, 17, 27, 41, 98, 221, 319, and 441, and various state roads. In 1927, the Dixie Highway Association disbanded, the functions of which were largely replaced by the County Highway Officials Association in 1927, the Florida State Road Department, and the Federal Highway Administration. By the mid-193Os, the Dixie Highway nomenclature had faded from popular usage, and many of the picturesque black, red, and white signs had rusted away and fallen from their posts. In an effort to reclaim their transportation heritage, some county and municipal governments adopted the Dixie Highway name as a local designation for the corresponding street within their respective jurisdictions. In other cases, the name Old Dixie Highway or Old Brick Road was assigned as a tribute to the heritage of the transportation corridor (Preston 1991, pp. 52-58, 115-116; )g3\†\v.us-liigliwavs.com/’dixielnw.htm; Kendrick 1964, pp. 252-253; Paxson 1946, p. 250)

A. Graves Brick Company Context The Graves Brick Company was organized by William H. Graves in the early twentieth century. A native of Knoxville, Tennessee, Graves earned a law degree at the College of William and Mary, and returned to Tennessee to open a law firm. After the Civil War, he ınoved to Montgomery, Alabama and then relocated to Birmingham, in 1890. Graves maintained his law practice and invested in real estate. Soon, he began constructing buildings for investment and on speculation, and organized a brick company to supply materials for those projects. The City of Birmingham’s street paving program offered additional opportunities in the manufacturing of vitrified bricks. By 1901, Graves had organized the Graves Shale Brick Company. Over the following two decades, he also organized the Graves-Matthews Paving Company and the Graves-Gunster Paving Company, both with men who married his daughters. H. S. Matthews briefly served as general manager for the brick and paving businesses before moving to Florida. By 1915, the Graves Company had sold millions of bricks, both the common type for use in the construction of buildings and vitrified type for street and road construction. Eventually, Graves combined the brick and paving businesses, which he closed about 1920. By then, Graves was among the most prominent attorneys and property owners in Birmingham (Cnıikshank 1920, pp. 73-75; Maloney Publishing Co. 1901, 1905; Polk Publishing Co. 1910, 1915, 1918). Most ofthe bricks forming Old Dixie Highway in Flagler County were made by Graves (Figure 10).

B. Historical Significance Old Brick Road was part of a larger countywide highway improvement program implemented by the County of St. Johns (Flagler County not being created until 1917) in the second decade of the twentieth century. Prior to the construction of the highway, the County goernment improved some of its public roads with oyster shells, a common road surfacing material in many of Florida’s coastal counties. As early as May 1913, St. Johns County’s commissioners and St. Augustine°s chamber of commerce had discussed plans for paving parts of the county°s road system with brick-and-shell, but none of those plans encompassed a countywide paving program. St. Augustine businessmen and politicians Eugene Masters and A. M. Taylor supported the use of brick for highways for the entire county, pointing out how St. Augustine°s brick paved streets were relatively maintenance free. Despite their support, the county commission continued to rely on shell to pave county roads. In January 1914, twenty railroad cars filled with oyster shells from Melbourne, Florida were shipped to various locations in St. Johns County to surface the county°s main public roads (St. Johns County 1906, pp. 420-422; St. Augustine Record 1906, 1913, 1914).

Consequently, many of St. Johns County°s main public roads had only just received a new surface of oyster shells, when, in late-1913, news of a brick road under construction in neighboring Duval County between the St. Johns County line and the Nassau County line compelled the board of commissioners to investigate a hard-surface road. ln January 1914, county commissioners in Volusia County to the south began debating the benefits of concrete or brick in a countywide road paving plan. At a special meeting in early January 1914, St. Johns County Commissioner A. H. Faver, a St. Augustine businessman, was appointed for that purpose and recommended that the county move forward as quickly as possible. Additional support came from an old ally, St. Augustine°s chamber of commerce, and J. E. Ingraham, vice-president of the Florida East Coast Railway Company. Later that year, lngraham would travel between Ft. Pierce and St. Augustine in an automobile, a tortuous nine-hour trip with the worst roads reportedly near Bunnell. A harbinger of Florida’s public highways, Henry H. Flagler had admonished the businessmen and politicians of St. Johns County as early as 1906 for neglecting to build hard-surfaced roads; he predicted that other communities would emerge to draw business away from St. Augustine if they did not soon improve their county-wide road system. A keen observer, Flagler hailed from Ohio, a leader in the manufacture of vitrified bricks and the first state in the nation to pave its public roads with bricks (St. Johns County 1906; St. Augustine Record 1906, 1913, 1914).

In January 1914, the county advertised bids for “paving the “John Anderson Highway” from the Duval County line to the North City limit of St. Augustine…and…the County Road from Hastings to the Volusia County line…, a total of 64 miles.” A. F. Harley, county engineer for Duval County, assisted St. Johns County with preparing its bids specifications. The bid request included the general specifications of “asphalt macadam, concrete, vitrified paving brick, or other suitable material, nine feet wide, from outside to outside of four by ten inch concrete curbing, the width of the curbing to be included in the paved portion of the road…” The contractors were required to conduct the paving work at three points in the county simultaneously, and at each point pave at least one mile per month. Six companies responded to the bid request: W. H. Cochran Company, Everett P. Maule Company, Seth Perkins & Sons, Southern Asphalt & Construction Company, Wilson Construction Company, and C. S. Young Construction Company. Led by its chairman, I. I. Moody of Bunnell, the county commission awarded a bid for $527,l55.20 to the J. Y. Wilson Construction Company of Jacksonville to pave the public road with brick in February 1914. The county reserved an additional $26,844.80 for engineering fees associated with developing the road. The county commission retained the J . B. McCrary Company of Atlanta for engineering and design work on the highway in June 1914 (St. Johns County 1906).

Following the award of the construction to the Wilson Company, the county commission and chamber of commerce embarked on a massive public relations campaign to help ensure the bonding necessary to pave the highway. Using the banner of “Good Roads, Progress, and Prosperity,” rallies were held in Hastings and St. Augustine. Business officials encouraged St. Johns County’s residents to vote for the road bonds. F. O. Miller of the Jacksonville Board of Trade and local school officials delivered brief addresses at St. Augustine°s “brick road rally” in the downtown plaza. Enacted by a voter referendum by an overwhelming majority of 822 to 432 in April 1914, the county°s road bonds amounted to $650,000. Only the residents of the Diego, Elkton, and New Augustine precincts had majorities who voted against the bonds. In Bunnell, the vote was eighty-seven to two for the measure, and in Espanola all eighteen eligible voters approved of the bonds (St. Augustine Record 1914; St. Johns County Commissioners Record Book D).

The Bunnell Home Builder attributed the financing and politics associated with the brick highway largely to I. I. Moody, Jr., a Bunnell developer and businessman who served as chairman of the St. Johns County Commission in 1913 and 1914. A native of Georgia, Moody arrived in St. Johns County in 1898 to work for George Deen in the turpentine business. By 1903, Moody had formed a lumber mill partnership with James Lambert, and later organized a real estate business. Instrumental in the founding of the Town of Bunnell and the Bunnell Development Company in 1909, Moody perceived the hard-surface road as a necessary development to link the nascent community of Bunnell with the established cities of Daytona Beach and St. Augustine. In 1917, Moody organized residents in Bunnell, Espanola, Neoga, and adjacent communities to lobby the F lorida Legislature for the creation of Flagler County. Moody represented the new county in the legislature in 1917, but died the following year. It was largely Moody°s political activism and his popularity in Bunnell and Espanola that resulted in the creation of the highway and the new county (Bunnell Home Builder 1914; Holland 1995, pp. 177-178; Map Book 2, p.25).

Espanola, an older community northwest of Bunnell and astride the Florida East Coast Railway tracks, had been organized about 1888 under the name of Raulerson, which was changed to Espanola in 1894. A town plan was laid out in 1911, and later the alignment of the Dixie Highway followed First Street West. In 1920, the census bureau counted 385 people in the Espanola precinct. Merchants included C. P. Hendry, who operated an automobile garage; the offices of the Neoga Naval Stores Company and naval stores owner S. L. Strickland; grocer C. E.Pappy; and general store owner T. F. Whitton. In the l920s and 19305, Elzie Hunter operated the Live and Let Live Tourist Camp along the Dixie Highway (Bunnell Home Builder 1914; Holland 1995; Map Book 2).

The county notified the Wilson and McCrary companies to proceed with the paving work in August 1914. Part of the New South°s business philosophy of industrialization and modernization, the Wilson and McCrary companies were prominent contracting and engineering businesses in their respective southem cities. A native of Jacksonville, Florida, James Young Wilson was born in 1870, served as an Army officer during the Spanish-American War, and returned to St. Augustine, where he was briefly attached to the U. S. District engineer°s office. About 1901, he returmed to Jacksonvílle and established the Jacksonville Tile & Paving Company with J. J. Holmes. Wi1son°s business consisted of paving streets and country highways, primarily with bricks. His paving activities extended throughout north Florida, including Camp Johnston during World War I and later Camp Foster. In 1916, the same year he completed his contract with St. Johns County, he completed the DeLand-Lake Helen Road in Volusia County, a sublet contract with the Southem Clay Manufacturing Company of Chattanooga, Tennessee. He operated the paving business for several decades, and in the mid-1920s reorganized the business as the Wilson Construction Company. One of his employees, Herbert E. Wolfe of St. Augustine, initially hauled rock for Wilson before establishing the San Marco Construction Company in St. Augustine.

In the mid-1930s, Wilson retired from the contracting business, and served as an engineer in the Civil Works Administration (CWA), then as a district administrator in the Works Projects Administration (WPA). Before his death in 1940, Wilson was acting state administrator for the WPA. The company graded the foundation and laid the brick and curbing for the Dixie Highway through St. Johns County only after the alignment, levels, and grades were established by the J. B. McCrary Company of Atlanta, Georgia (Florida Times Union, 9/ 1 1/ 1940; Jacksonville Journal, 9/ 10/ 1940; Kendrick 1964, pp. 81, 254-255.)

The much larger and ubiquitous McCrary Company designed hundreds of highways, roads, and murıicipal light, water, and sewer systems throughout the southeast between the 18905 and l940s. A native of Georgia, Joseph Boyd McCrary was graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1891 and worked for several engineering companies in Atlanta before organizing his own business in 1896. One of the company°s first large jobs came in the late-1890s with the Water Works at Monticello, Florida. Initially specializing in water systems, the company soon expanded into road and highway engineering. In the 1910s and 1920s, the McCrary Company engineered approximately 2,000 miles of highways and roads in Florida alone, including the Tamiami Trail and the Ingraham Highway to Cape Sable. ln 1926, the McCrary Company built fifteen miles of concrete highway in St. Johns County, the second largest contract let that year by the Florida State Road Department. During World War I and World War II, the company engineered the design of many military installations and training camps. Eventually, the company completed projects between El Paso, Texas and Jackson, Michigan. F or the new brick highway in St. Johns County, the company surveyed the alignments, provided the levels, designed bridges and culverts, superintended the Wilson Company’s work, and conducted other design and engineering work (Garrett 1954, pp. 67-68; Kendrick 1964, pp. 71, 80, 97). Although the Wilson and McCrary companies received notices to proceed in August 1914, the Wilson Company made little headway until October 1914.

Most of the brick was delivered to the road sides by train, but for the stretch of road between Hastings and Neoga (west of Espanola), Wilson reported that mule teams would be used to haul the brick in the event that the railroad would not be available in that area. Initially, the county ordered the Wilson Company to direct its brick crews to be divided into three sections: one to start at the Duval County line and pave south to St. Augustine; another crew to start at Alligator Branch southeast of Bunnell and work north beyond Bunnell and Espanola to Hastings; and the third crew to begin at Byrd and work through Hastings, Elkton, Spuds, and St. Augustine. Several weeks later, however, to reduce costs and speed construction, the county commission altered its paving locations for the highway, placing the emphasis on the stretch of road between the Duval County line and St. Augustine, and from Byrd to Hastings, Elkton, Spuds, and St. Augustine. ln August 1914, Wilson ordered 5,000,000 bricks for the highway north of St. Augustine, in addition to a road grader and a road scraper. Wilson also supplied a road roller, saving the county the expense of purchasing that equipment. The county agreed to supply, however, an eighteen-berth portable steel convict cage to transport imnates to grade the roads while Wilson°s crews laid the curbs and brick. Even before construction began, the commission ruled that no truck over five tons could operate on the new road “unless its wheels are extra wide tread” (Bunnell Home Builder 1914; St. Johns County 1906, pp. 435, 477-478; St. Augustine Record 1914).

In September 1914, eight railroad cars of bricks arrived at the Durbin siding of the Florida East Coast Railway and twenty-five additional rail cars were in transit. Although the McCrary Company began laying the levels and alignments in August 1914, Wilson°s brick laying crews remained in Seminole County, completing jobs near Sanford until October. After the engineers with the McCrary Company laid the levels for the road, the convicts graded the road, relocatíng some of the shell outside the curb lines to form the shoulders of the highway.. Then graders and rollers prepared the road bed. Curb and brick laying began at Durbin and Hastings in October 1914. One of Wi1son°s innovations, the four-by-ten inch curbing was grooved on the ends with each piece fitting snugly into an adjoining section, protecting the road from erosion and preventing separation of the curb sections. On 19 October 1914, the editors of the St. Augustine Record declared that “brick paving is now in full swing.” For most of the highway, the Wilson Company used vitrified brick manufactured by the Graves Brick Company of Birmingham, Alabama. By August 1915, the Wilson Company had paved fifty-seven miles, leaving unfinished four miles southwest of New Augustine and nine miles southeast of Byrd toward Espanola. Heavy rains and high water delayed the widening of the alignments and straightening the grade through the long swamp at Big Cypress Swamp north of Espanola. After the brick was laid, Wilson’s steam road roller smoothed the finished surface, and a crew replaced broken bricks and added shell on the shoulders. Another crew finished widening the grade, clearing brush and roots along the shoulders (St. Augustine Record 8/25, 9/3, 9/9, 9/12, 10/19, 8/9, 1914; 10/6/1915; Daytona Gazette News, 8/ 13/ 1915).

Concerns regarding the engineering of the new highway and the nascent Dixie Highway Movement drew the attention of the county commission. In early-1915, the county deferred on payment requests by the McCrary Company for preparing a profile of the John Anderson Highway and an unacceptable condition of the brick road between Atwood°s Ditch and Mile Post Nine. Eventually, the disagreements were resolved, but not before additional conflicts emerged between the engineering company and the county government. In May 1915, the commissioners sent a resolution to the Dixie Highway Association, protesting the designation of the Dixie Highway through the central peninsula of the state. The commissioners recommended the route extend through Jacksonville and Florida’s east coast, and urged the Association to inspect the new brick highway under construction in St. Johns County. Later that year, the editors of the St. Augustine Record celebrated the arrival of the “Dixie Highway Motorcade,” a procession of seventy-five automobiles that traveled from Chicago to Miami Beach. On 21 October 1915, a delegation of St. Augustine businessmen and good roads promoters met the motorcade at the Duval County-St. Johns County line and escorted them along the Dixie Highway into St. Augustine. Later that day, forty automobiles adorned with bunting and flags departed from St. Augustine, led by l. I. Moody, A. H. Faver, and W. B. Edminster, to accompany the Association’s officials along the brick-paved Dixie Highway into Daytona Beach. Citizens at Elkton and Hastings paid tribute to the motorcade, which also stopped in Bunnell at the state bank, where Moody delivered a brief speech. The highway officials complimented “the St. Johns County commissioners over the wonderful achievement in road-building, stating that St. Johns would probably occupy first place on the honor roll because of being the first county along the entire route to use a permanent paving material on such a long stretch of highway” The officials commented that they had experienced difficulties only along a five mile stretch between Byrd and the state convict camp in the Big Cypress Swamp (St. Johns County, Book D, 1915 pp. 507, 534).

In the weeks before the arrival of the Dixie Highway motorcade, the St. Johns County commissioners took action to address reported deficiencies in the highway. ln July 1915, the commission passed a resolution discharging the McCrary Company from its duties. The commission alleged that the company°s “engineers were not present at the laying of brick between Bunnell and Espanola and between Bunnell and the South end of said brick road” The county made further allegations that the company had permitted bricks to be laid “without said roadway being watered properly before rolling… and the laying of brick on said road upon palmetto roots, etc.” Further complaints surfaced about the engineering company “not furnishing the contractor the requisite lines and grades at many places from the North of St. Johns County to the limits of St. Augustine, and between Hastings and Elkton, between Bunnell and Espanola, and between Bunnell and the South end of said road.” Because of the difficult terrain in the Big Cypress Swamp and Pringle Swamp north of Espanola and south of Byrd and Gopher Ridge, the engineers supplied the necessary suıveys, lines, grades, and supervision during the paving process. The aligrıment of the public road through the wetlands ran parallel to the Florida East Coast Railway tracks to the west and largely followed the route of an existing public road, although a few adjustments were made to avoid wetlands. Through Espanola the alignment followed First Street West, but general store owner W. N. Mattox was compelled to relocate two buildings out of the right of way. To resolve the dispute and retain the contract, the McCrary Company agreed to direct the necessary repairs and agreed to permit the county to hold $2,000 of its final payment for sixty days after the completion of the repairs (St. Johns County 1915, pp. 513, 550-551; Flagler County Map Book 2; Scott 1914).

Motorists experienced some confusion about the correct route for the Dixie Highway until new signs were installed in late-1915. St. Johns County°s officials discovered that some out-of-state motorists used out-of-date highway maps and selected the Kings Road instead of the Dixie Highway for travel between St. Augustine and Ormond Beach. New signs bearing the DH emblem, rather than signs indicating the route to Ellington and Hastings helped travelers avoid the unpaved Kings Road. In December 1915, the McCrary and Wilson companies completed their obligations for the brick paved road between St. Augustine and Duval County. The companies completed the stretch of highway south of Byrd, through Espanola, and into Bunnell in 1916. Bricks from the Graves Brick Company of Birmingham, Alabama were used to surface the highway, and composite concrete and rock chips formed the curbs. On 4 March 1916, the St. Augustine Record declared the entire Dixie Highway completed in St. Johns County. Wilson’s crew celebrated with a barbecue with 160 pounds of pork and forty loaves of bread. Predicting that the road would be a “boon to the farmer and automobile tourist,” the St. Augustine Record indicated that Wilson would have completed the job in late-1915 if the company had not experienced a shortage of materials. In March 1916, the road was declared open to traffic between the Duval County line and the Volusia County line, although some grades still needed to be widened and no beautification had occurred. One brick remained unlaid for later that year, when a formal Dixie Highway ceremony was held for the people of Bunnell, Espanola, and Hastings (Figure 11). One of the straightest sections of the highway extended for nearly ten miles beginning about five miles east of Byrd where the highway took an abrupt ninety degree turn south. From there it ran approximately ten miles with a few slight bends on relatively flat, low, wet terrain between the Big Cypress and Pringle swamps into Espanola. In April 1916, the McCrary Company requested a final inspection of the highway and final payment. The commissioners inspected the brick highway between the county lines and accepted it “in accordance with the plans and specifications furníshed the said Wilson Construction Company” The final paved mileage was sixty-six miles (St. Johns County 1906, Map Book D, p. 599, Map Book E, pp. 17, 28; St. Augustine Record, 3/4 and 6/ 12/ 1916; Daytona Gazette News, 10/22/1915; State Road Department 1923). One year later, in April 1917, the Florida Legislature created Flagler County. In its first official meetings, the new government itemized five of its most pressing concerns, one of those being the brick road. In appraising its adjustments with St. Johns and Volusia Counties regarding public properties within the new jurisdiction, Flagler County°s officials asserted that part of the brick road north of Espanola had never been accepted by St. Johns County°s board of commissioners.

To remedy what it believed to be a deficiency in the brick highway, the county contacted the Wilson Company about completing the section of highway. But, the construction company, believing it had completed its contractual duties with the final inspection and receipted of final payment for services from St. Johns County, never responded. In November 1917, failing to gain satisfaction from the Wilson Company, Flagler County°s officials assigned A. F. Bell, the superintendent of roads, to maintain a convict force on the brick highway until it was completed. Later, after officials from Flagler and St. Johns County discussed the amount due St. Johns County for the brick road, Flagler County established a sinking fund to retire the debt (Flagler County n.d.).

In 1917, the U. S. Bureau of Soils published a soil survey of St. Johns County. Principally a tool to distinguish soils »and natural features, the map also depicted transportation systems and structures. Approximately one mile north of the Flagler-St. Johns county line stood fifteen buildings on well-drained soils on the edge of the Big Cypress Swamp, then owned by the Hastings Operating Coınpany, suggesting a turpentine camp. The following year, the bureau published a soil survey of Flagler County. The resource depicted a system of unimproved roads extending from the Dixie Highway to Dinner Island, Neoga, and into the Big Cypress and Pringle Swamps. Although a small collection of buildings stood along the highway about one mile north of Espanola and a few additional buildings sprinkled the Pringle and Matanzas Swamps east of the brick road, no additional buildings or structures appeared astride the alignment (USDA 1917; USDA 1918).

The Dixie Highway north of Bunnell, through Espanola, Hastings, Elkton, and into St. Augustine served as the primary route of travel for tourists motoring along Flon`da°s east coast for about one decade. One observer of automobile travel in the region recorded 453 cars using the Dixie Highway in September 1915, most of those southbound. The following month, the number had increased to 647. Although many local faımers used trucks to transport crops to market and rail sidings along the highway, tourism by automobile emerged as the heaviest impact and increased exponentially during the 1920s (Figure 12). In 1923, using the recommendation of the Florida State Road Department, the Florida Legislature designated the highway as State Road 4, a route that extended between Hilliard and Miami and largely followed the alignment of the Dixie Highway. In the 1924-1925 winter season, Jacksonvi1le°s chamber of commerce reported that 150,000 out-of-state automobiles passed through the city, many of which traveled south to St. Augustine and Daytona Beach. In August 1925 alone, the chamber counted 12,550 cars carrying 49,118 people south of Jacksonville on the Dixie Highway. Later estimates asserted that 2,500,000 people visited Florida in 1925, the majority in automobiles with J acksonville and Lake City the main points of entry (Figures 13 and 14) (Daytona Gazette News 1915; Flagler Tribune 1925; Tebeau 1971, pp. 378-392; Gannon 1996, p.292; Florida Legislature 1923, pp. 367-368).

The tourists included hundreds of racing enthusiasts who traveled the highway each year to watch speed records and races at Daytona Beach. Seasonal tourists included businessman C. B. Luther of Providence, Rhode Island, who owned the Flagler Hotel in Daytona Beach, and in 1915 began annual automobile trips between Rhode Island and Florida, using the Dixie Highway south of Jacksonville. The Graham brothers of Maine used the Dixie Highway to reach Daytona Beach in December 1915. An automobile dealer in Bar Harbor, E. A. Graham drove one of his new touring models that year. Henry M. Leland, president of Cadillac Automobile Company in Detroit, drove one of his new “Cadillac eights” between Jacksonville and Daytona Beach on the Dixie Highway in 1916. In a publicity stunt, J _ F. Belland of Washington, D.C. embarked on a walking tour of the United States in 1913. He reached Florida in 1915, and made the journey along the Dixie Highway between Hastings, Espanola, and Burınell, and into Daytona Beach in November 1915 .

One year later, some thirty Jacksonville and St. Augustine advertising agents traveled by automobile to Daytona Beach for a statewide convention of adveıtisers, a harbinger of activities that would come into full bloom during the Florida Land Boom of the 19205. The first gubernatorial candidate to canvas the state by automobile, Sidney J. Catts of DeFuniak Springs drove hundreds of miles across Florida in late-1916. His campaign stops in Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, and elsewhere in north Florida took him along the Dixie Highway in a Model T Ford made famous during the campaign and later in the inaugural parade in Tallahassee in 1917. Figure 15 is a portion of a 1914 road map that could have been used by any of these early Florida drivers. Historian J . Wayne Flynt later assessed the Catts campaign “as remarkable technologically as it was politically” because of Catts” use of the automobile (Daytona Gazette News 1915; Flagler Tribune 1925; Florida Times Union 1916; Flynt 1977, pp. 76-77, 91, 144).

Author: FCHS