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Klamath Citizens Repair Miles of Roads in a Single Day

It was May 20, 1915, when more than 150 Klamath Falls business and professional men donned old clothes to improve 105 miles of highway in a single day. The Evening Herald newspaper called it, “The greatest and most successful co-operative civic movement in the history of Klamath Falls” up to that time.

Inspired by a proclamation issued by James Withycombe, Oregon’s 15th governor, the volunteers, armed with shovels, picks and other tools, went to different main roads to clear, level and otherwise make improvements.

The Good Roads Day proclamation encouraged all forward-looking citizens of the state to participate. The governor said, “Better roads are desirable not only from a commercial standpoint, but also because they promote social community development and increase our civic pride.”

The newspaper reported that 40 men under the supervision of Judge George Baldwin “did excellent work on the road from Keno to the state line.”  They cleared rocks and boulders out of the road along Topsy Grade, and filled and smoothed all the rough spots and chuckholes.

A crew of more than 40 men headed by Capt. J.W. Siemens improved the Long Lake grade on Pelican Bay Road.


Source: "Miles of Roads Repaired in a Day." Evening Herald (as published in The Midge, Cultural Newsletter for the Klamath Basin. 20 May 2015 [Klamath Falls, Ore.]) 20 May 1915 [Klamath Falls, Ore.]. Print

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.