During the 19th century, cities usually had decent roads, but rural roads were often little more than muddy trails. Bicyclists and railroad companies began calling for good roads in the 1880s, but American road building really took off in the 20th century as a response to rising numbers of cars and trucks. Some of these new roads were private initiatives, such as the Lincoln Highway, but after 1916, federal law and government money fueled much of the country’s road building.
Pamphlets such as this one promoted support for good roads in the late 1800s. The League of American Wheelmen—an organization of bicyclists—distributed about 5 million tracts calling for road improvements.
Patent model, road scraper, Western Wheeled Scraper Co., 1892
Patent model, road scraper, 1894
Concrete mixer model, about 1910
Road scraper and leveler, demonstration model, 1879
Patent model, drag scraper, 1879
Toy concrete mixer, 1920s