Iowa's Roads

Iowa's early roads were built and maintained by local towns and counties. But they were far from perfect.


At one point we came upon a road crew who turned out to be local citizens working off taxes by maintaining the roads. This seems to be the rule in these parts. Road building is almost totally a local concern. A gentleman on the stage told me of how they once experimented with what they called plank roads, that is planks of wood laid in the roadbed. They were expensive to build and the wooden planks were always needing replacing, so they never really caught on. The roads appear to wander all over the place; well this makes more sense when you know they are merely improved Indian trails. These improvements, and I use the term loosely, are paid for by the counties the road passes through.

“From Here to There,” The Iowa Heritage: Program # 6, Iowa PBS, 1978.