Rural Road Was a Contrary Course

A rural road might have benefited from modern engineering, but it still provided plenty of fond memories.

| January 2016

Farm lane

A rural road can provide lots of memories for anyone who grew up on a farm.

Photo courtesy Clell G. Ballard

According to the dictionary, a lane is “a narrow, rural road for the passage of traffic.” That is a most fitting and accurate description of exactly what most rural lanes did: They allowed for the passage of traffic. In fact, that described our lane going into the family farm. It allowed for the passage of traffic – for part of the year, or at least some of the year or at least for some of the time for part of the year. So far as allowing the passage of traffic for all of the year … well, that never happened.

Our lane was .6 mile long from Upper Sarepta Road to our farmhouse. It was an absolutely straight lane, because it neatly divided George Edgar’s land on the east from Roy Erie’s land on the west – and that was the only thing it did neatly. That lane was as perverse as any inanimate thing could be.

Rural amusement park

The lane was level for the first third of the distance, but that was only to give a false sense of complacency. The middle third of that lane was laid out by a designer of roller coasters. The good lord had put a hill in the way that he didn’t intend to be traversed, and most of the time it wasn’t, although we sure tried.

Someone, years ago in the dim, dark ages when they first laid out the lane, had made a curve in the hill so that horses pulling a wagon up the hill wouldn’t tip over backward. And I suppose that must have worked out, because people had used the lane for 100 years or so, but it wasn’t working out so well for us.

Have you noticed that, even today, when something is working okay, someone comes along and spoils everything in the name of progress? Well, that spoiler was Henry Ford, when he invented the automobile. An automobile could just get up enough speed to get up that hill before it had to slow down to go around the curve, and so that curve was gradually abandoned and quickly reclaimed by the trees that grew along it, and then in it.

Now the lane went straight up the hill, and that hill was almost straight up. Oh, it wasn’t really that steep, it just seemed to be that steep, especially when the ground was wet, or covered with snow, or ice or whatever it was covered with most of the time when we couldn’t get a car up it, which was most of the time.