Growing Up on Muddy Creek

| November 2001

Gravel wagons powered by heavy horses, mules

Back in the early 1920s, Len Small ran for and was elected governor of Illinois on a 'Good Roads' platform. With him came million-dollar bond issues and a flurry of road building throughout the state. Lawrence County for once got her share.

In those long ago days, the roads were mostly dirt tracks around the section lines. 'Improved' meant they had been, perhaps, graded a little and dragged to smooth out the ruts.

With the bond issue came the use of state money to buy gravel that would at least partly weatherproof these 'improved' roads.

Most of the gravel for improving the roads, such as the Sumner-Chauncey and Trace roads around Red Hill, came from the gravel pits in the Wabash bottom north of Lawrenceville.

In fact, Lake Lawrence, a favorite recreation spa of the Depression years, was the source of much of that gravel.

There were a few entrepreneurs, like Dale Lewis, who converted Model 'T' trucks into dump trucks, and although they could haul only a half wagon load, they could and did make many trips in a day's time. In fact, Dale was so willing that he would make an extra night trip and be the first in line to 'dump' when the crew came on in the morning. This ambition earned him the moniker 'Hog' Lewis.