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Songs and Stories
     June 24, 2019      #3C-175 SsK
Kankakee insurance man Albert Schneider and his family enjoy a drive in the country, probably about 1915. They are riding on an “improved” road, covered with a compacted layer of gravel; concrete paving in rural areas still was a few years in the future. Albert and his wife, Bertha, are in the b

Jack Klasey: Pulling Illinois 'out of the

By Jack Klasey

A century ago, taking a drive in your automobile definitely was an adventure: Once you were outside your town, there were virtually no paved highways. Rural roads were typically rutted dirt tracks that turned to deep mud after spring rains and generated choking clouds of dust in the summer. Standard equipment for most drivers (“automobilists,” as they were called) was a sturdy shovel to dig out a stuck vehicle.

As the number of automobiles rapidly increased in the early 1900s, so did agitation for improving roads. Until almost the 1920s, road improvement typically consisted of using horse-drawn scrapers to fill in the ruts and ...

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Rutted rural roads were muddy in wet weather and dusty in the summer, making travel an adventure for automobile drivers. This photo was taken near Lehigh in 1912.

Kankakee County Museum Photo Archive

Jack Klasey
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