Swipe horizontally to view next image

The Dixie Highway

Goodloe and Earle were calling on their earliest customers in 1914 when an entrepreneur from Indianapolis pursued a dream that would transform the roadway system in Georgia and open new opportunities for Yancey sales.

Carl Fisher had been directly involved in the automobile business, inventing an acetylene headlamp and becoming a multimillionaire with the sale of his company to Union Carbide in 1913. With three business partners, he then built the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Fisher had even bigger ideas. He purchased real estate in Miami Beach with a plan for developing a winter vacation destination for midwestern snowbirds, and he was counting on automobiles to get them there. Problem was, there was no single north-south highway to Florida—only a conglomeration of hundreds of county roads, most of them unpaved and difficult to manage in rainy, winter weather.

Fisher proposed a paved highway from upper Michigan to Miami Beach—the Dixie Highway—and he asked the governor of Indiana to help him promote it.

They assembled the first meeting of the Dixie Highway Association in 1915 in Chattanooga, and several Georgia county leaders attended. The Georgians returned home sold on the idea of building their portion of the highway, recognizing the economic opportunities created by thousands of tourists driving through their counties. Excitement was so high, in fact, several different Dixie Highway routes were planned for Georgia, and the counties put their road crews to work. In some places existing roads were improved, and in others a new road had to be constructed. In the early years many counties could not afford to pave the Dixie Highway from one end to the other, choosing instead to spray tar on smooth dirt to keep the dust down. All of the participating counties committed to maintaining a smooth road for tourists.

Congress passed the Federal Aid Road Act in 1916, and states that created a highway department became eligible for limited federal funds for roads. Georgia complied in 1916. The expanding road construction and maintenance opened new opportunities all over the state for Yancey.

Share this Story

Foundations 1914 - 1938
Era Stories