Monday, April 13, 2015

A Hard Road Through Bunker Hill



When the first homesteaders came to Bunker Hill, there were no roads as we think of them today.  You would just go out in the direction of your destination and go across country.  Over time, certain paths and trails were more heavily traveled and became the early roads.  There was no organized maintenance of these roads.  In dry weather, the dust was six to eight inches deep and in wet weather getting stuck in the mud was inevitable.  After many years of traveling this way, residents of the community began to complain.

The town council, for the purpose of keeping streets, alleys, and highways in repair, was authorized and empowered to require every able bodied male over twenty-one years of age and under fifty to labor on streets, any number of days not exceeding three in each year.

When the practice of oiling roads started, the neighbors would chip in and oil the roads.  This job was not done mechanically, but was done by manual labor.  In 1923, the city began to oil the streets.  The roads and city streets were very messy and the oil ran off the dust like water.

In 1925, Senator A. Cuthbertson, who was a former merchant and resident of Bunker Hill, initiated the idea of a hard road to the area that would replace the old stage coach road running north and south through town.



The road work started in Bunker Hill in 1927.  One problem that had arisen was that the state wanted to take the Lincoln Statue out when the road was put in, however, popular sentiment won out and the road was built around the statue instead.

Workers who helped on the road used over one hundred mules to haul materials to construct the foundation.  After the foundation was finished, the concrete was poured and smoothed.

In 1928, there was a big celebration to celebrate the opening of the hard road.  The old stage coach that had run the route through here on the Springfield and St. Louis route from 1822-1850 was brought here from Edwardsville for the celebration.

The final touches were made and the new Route 112 was finished in the early 1930's.  A few years after the route was completed, the hard road's name was changed to Route 159.  The highway is still a two-lane road as it has been for eighty plus years, but has been resurfaced and widened to fit present day needs.

...Read more about this and other Bunker Hill, IL historical stories at http://bunkerhillhistory.org

--Cite this story: The Bunker Hill IL Historical Society. "A Look Back in Bunker Hill History." Bunker Hill Gazette-News, December 13, 2012.   

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