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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Roads in Jefferson County, 1926

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, December 24, 2017

 

As years fade, documents and materials that were commonplace at the time take on new interest and history becoming the background for subjects of interest today.

 

Librarians are notorious for searching bibliographies and footnotes in published works looking for earlier publications that would create today’s historical documents.

 

I noticed a reference to a publication of the Ohio Department of Highways that began in 1921 and continued until 1937 called “Highway Topics” and in particular one issue that contained Jefferson County, Ohio history.

 

The bibliography said that the March, 1926 contained an historical article about the county history.

 

I checked with the State Library of Ohio, which is our state documents depository for the state, and indeed they did have that issue in their collection and were willing to copy the significant pages for our library.

 

The 13 page article is titled, “Steubenville and Vicinity  --  where iron meets coal and is changed into gold.”  Information was gathered from C.O. Hanes, secretary of the Steubenville Chamber of Commerce at the time.

 

The article contains information about Steubenville, Toronto, and Mingo Junction; and the county in general.

 

The histories contain the standard information available today, but being a highway publication it provides specific information related to road construction in 1926, something lost to today’s history.

 

The publication states that Intra-County Highway 7 (now State Route 7) was established June 23, 1921 as the “East Liverpool – Marietta Joint Highway Committee” and thr scenic highway has been under construction ever since.

 

It reports that in the “near future,” the Steubenville-Mingo Boulevard will be rebuilt, and someday the Powhatan Point river road will be constructed, the only gap in the road.

 

A contract for over half million dollars is underway in 1926 to concrete the Steubenville-Canton Highway ICH 75, which is today State Route 43.  That contract would pave 11 miles of highway with a concrete surface.

 

The Steubenville-Cambridge Highway, ICH 26 now U.S. Highway 22, was being widened from 10 ft. to 18 ft. during the summer of 1926.

 

The article stated that in 1921, there were no good highways in the area and all of the construction of concrete and brick roads had been accomplished in the 5 years hence.

 

By the 1920s, major highways had names such as the National Road which is today’s U.S. 40 and the Lincoln Highway, today’s U.S. 30.

 

In Jefferson County, the Ocean-to-Ocean-Transcontinental Highway was going to link Pittsburgh with Columbus and would cross a planned bridge at Steubenville to be built in 1928.  (The Fort Steuben Bridge)

 

The article also states that “further development in traffic is a proposed bridge between Toronto and West Virginia leading into Pittsburgh.  Plans for the structure are being prepared at the insistence of George M. Myers.”

 

Even in 1926, highway construction was tied to economic development of an area citing the need for industry to move their product by train and truck.

 

The remoteness of both Smithfield and Stratton was cited in the article as a reason for highway construction to bring food product to both towns.

 

Scrapers and steam shovels were outlined as the equipment of choice in 1926 to build modern highways.

 

Jefferson County had its “Ohio Good Roads” proponents including James T. Sarratt, Chamber President; Forrest Richmond, publisher of the Toronto Tribune; Charles I. Waddle of Brilliant, a former county commissioner; and George Fellows of the Steubenville Automobile Club.

 

In addition, the first State Highway Commissioner from 1905-1908 was from Jefferson County; his name was Sam Huston and served as county engineer for 17 years.