Tis vacation time for readers so I’m going to take one too, but I’m going to take you on my virtual vacation. We’ll begin with roads, go on to lodgings, then trips beginning with Colorado. After that, we’ll take another trip or two to places I have visited, would like to visit, and for which I have postcards. In the narrative to follow, the numbers refer to postcards.

Tis vacation time for readers so I’m going to take one too, but I’m going to take you on my virtual vacation. We’ll begin with roads, go on to lodgings, then trips beginning with Colorado. After that, we’ll take another trip or two to places I have visited, would like to visit, and for which I have postcards. In the narrative to follow, the numbers refer to postcards.

In the beginning, pre-historic men were hunters and gatherers moving about in search of berries, fruits, and game and living in tribal/family groups over paths as their food sources led them. Primeval woods are nearly impenetrable even today, so the fastest, easiest means of travel for early man was by water e.g., stream, river, sea.

Travel over trackless land is illustrated by Timothy O’Sullivan, student of famous Civil War photographer Matthew Brady.[1] Pioneers would have expanded forest paths by felling trees as in the one shown east of Bellevue, Pennsylvania. [2]

To cross wet, boggy land in the Middle Ages in Germany, they made them passable by felling trees and laying them side by side and perpendicular to the direction of the path and named them ‘corduroy’ roads after the surface of a cloth of that name. [3] A modified corduroy or ‘plank’ road was constructed to cross sands in Imperial County, California by splitting logs to expose one flat side to make a smooth road surface.[4]

The 1908 postcard here pictures a country road near the Cimarron River in Oklahoma.[5] It has been graded, a sub-base of broken rock laid underneath for leveling and drainage, and a mixture of sand, gravel, and binder compacted on top . Note the buggy tracks.

The road to Jericho from Jerusalem is 18 miles long and steep e.g.., it descends 3300 feet or 180 feet per mile. Jericho is one of the oldest cities in the world being at least 11,000 years old. [6] Jerusalem,site of the Garden of Gethsemane, dates to 4500 B.C. Jesus would have walked on the road shown here.[7] Both roads are similar in construction to the Oklahoma road.

Modern road construction actually dates to 312 B.C. when engineers of the Roman Empire built the Appian Way from Rome to Brindisi , a distance of 338 miles. [8] Rome and parts of Italy had swamps that allowed enemy troops protection from Roman legions so Appius Claudius Caecus, the Roman censor built it in 312. “Censors” were persons of the highest dignity in the state. They expanded their office in time [443-22 BC] from taking the census to oversight of public morals [censor],to public works such as roads. Public roads were called “high” roads from which we get “highways.” In England, public roads connecting towns and cities were built with public funds. They evolved into streets that contain shops which in the U.S. we dubbed “Main” streets.

The Roman Republic ended and the Empire began in 31 B.C. in the decisive battle of Actium [now Preveza] in the Ionian Sea on the northwestern coast of Greece. Octavian was opposed by a superior force of men and ships led by the famous lovers, Mark Anthony and Cleopatra VII. Unfortunately, the latter took refuge for the Winter in a marshy area full of malaria-carrying mosquitoes which not only decimated his troops,it prevented their tactical movement in battle because of the absence of Roman roads.

Octavian won, became Caesar Augustus, ended the Republic and began the Empire which endured over centuries. It ended civil wars around the Mediterranean basin beginning the famous Pax Romana.

Ultimately, the Empire built 250,000 miles of roads, 50,000 miles of which were stone-paved. Segments of these roads survive and are in use now. Jesus birth [4-6 B.C.] was timed perfectly to enjoy the benefits of this peace and his successors in the church to enjoy those roads to spread the gospel.

This 1908 postcard pictures a road near the Cimarron River in Oklahoma in 1908.[5] I has been graded, a sub-base of broken rock laid in for drainage and leveling, and covered and compacted with a top coat of sand, gravel, and binder. Note the buggy tracks. Smooth river stones were sometimes used to form cobblestone streets until succeeded by bricks. [9] Modern road construction began in the U.S. in 1895 under federal auspices.[10]

In WWI The experience of the German army in WWI having to rapidly move troops between their Eastern and western fronts taught them the need for good roads resulting in Hitler constructing the 2373 mile ‘autobahn’ system of controlled access superhighways. [11]

After traversing the continental U.S. as a young Major in 1919, Dwight Eisenhower was convinced of the need for roads for defense purposes. As President in the fifties he oversaw the act creating our interstate highway system. [In 1959 I appraised the right-of-way for I-40 between Weatherford and Clinton.]

Next week we will look at the evolution of lodgings for travelers.