The Dixie Highway was conceived in 1915 by a group of governors and business leaders seeking to increase tourism in their states. As assembly lines made cars and trucks more affordable to the masses, improved roads were a necessity. Historically, Georgia’s were notoriously bad. As late as 1915, paved streets were rare in the state and no paved highways existed.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that this was the first viable ‘interstate’ highway in Georgia and local leaders lobbied aggressively to have the route come through their communities. Its presence in Ben Hill County was likely a result of the influence of local newspaperman Isidor Gelders. He was a member of the board of the Dixie Highway Association.
Scattered original sections like those pictured here still remain, but they’re increasingly rare.