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Milford Township and Proud of It

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This famous DOT picture, taken in 1917 or 1918, just to the west of Nevada, and just a mile to the south of Milford Twp shows the condition of the roads following a wet spell during that time period. It was taken, undoubtedly, to be distributed statewide to help create a demand by the public for improvement in the condition of the Iowa roads. It appears the photographer is facing the east along the Lincoln Highway - very near where the Jehovah Witness Kingdom Hall is now located-along the north side of Sec 10 of Grant Township- about a mile and a third east of the North Grant School. One might wonder why the driver appears to be smiling? Or is that a smile? Perhaps he's moving his lips rehearsing what he's going to say to whomever came up with the idea for this picture. Maybe he's just proud of his machine and a little self-conscious? Another caption for this picture might be to wonder why the driver washed his machine just to go play in the mud for the photographer.
Muddy Conditions

This well known photo, just a mile from Milford Twp, shows the condition of transportation by automobile following a wet spell in our area. (It was in the summer of 1930 that the Lincoln Highway across Story County was completely paved.) Iowa, and Milford Twp, stayed in the mud because of the alienation of the farmers by the wording in the law of the time that permitted the adjacent landowner to be assessed "a fraction of the cost" for the construction of a pavement past his property. This assessment could be on land that lay as far from the new pavement as a mile. Furthermore, the "fraction of the cost" was an unknown percentage.

After two unsuccessful votes, (1919 & 1922), in 1924 four factors combined to overcome shortcomings in funding. 1) Car registrations increased, (1915- 147,000 & 1925 - 660,000) 2) License fees jumped from a flat fee of $15 to a graduated amount as high as $80. 3) A fuel tax of 3 cents a gallon on gasoline was imposed. 4) The unpopular "fraction of the cost" clause was eliminated.

Another incident, perhaps it could be called a phenomenon of nature, was conceivably the greatest influence on the minds of the voters. During this time, in the fall of 1922, Minnesota played Iowa at the Iowa City football facility in front of a crowded stadium. During the game, a hard rain moved in, covering a large area, and stranded most of the fans in Iowa City. They were stranded and stuck by the muddy roads. This one incident, perhaps more than any other, showed the need in the minds of the public, the voters, and the legislators for better roads in Iowa.

Just as a footnote to this information-- It was in the summer of 1947 that the new markings for "no passing" zones of Highways 30 and 69 were painted across Story County. At the time, the no passing zone, represented by the yellow stripe, was where the yellow stripe was on the right side of the black center stripe.

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© 2012 Mark Christian
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