The automobile created demand for good roads in the early 20th century. Dirt and gravel were upgraded to brick, concrete, and asphalt. Hills were leveled, valleys were filled, and curves were straightened.
Not quite two miles past the Wilson bridge west of Hagerstown, MD, lies this example of state-of-the-art roadbuilding circa 1930. A straightened and widened US 40 (at left in the photo) left it behind, obsolete. Compare this photo to this one, this one, and this one, all of which show this style of road when freshly built.
This road is probably 24 feet wide, including the concrete shoulders. Oncoming semis would find this a tight squeeze, but that wasn’t an issue in the 1930s as railroads still moved most goods around the country. Modern highway lanes are 12 feet wide, not including shoulders, to make room for semis.
It’s hard telling why this section of road was not torn out when the new road was built, but it’s cool to see it now.
Do you like to follow an abandoned road? Then check out this abandoned section of a highway from Indianapolis to Bloomington.