Friday, March 13, 2015

thoughts on US 80

Driving along US 80 gave me the opportunity to see things I wouldn't see if I was driving along the interstate and it also "brought me back" to another time in my life (my childhood) when roads like US 80 were THE interstate highways of the day.  I was able to pass through many small towns--some that were thriving and some that appeared to be almost abandoned.  Some of the towns had grown into cities with surrounding suburbs.  It seems the growth, or non growth, is based on transportation routes  or, in some cases, educational institutions.  Savannah, Macon, Montgomery, Jackson, Monroe, Shreveport and Dallas are all examples of large cities that have grown because they are located at the confluence of major highways.  Statesboro, Georgia seems to be thriving because Georgia Southern University is located here and that brings in a large influx of student population plus all the services needed to support the residents.  The downtown area is well trafficked and the storefronts are filled. Another example of a thriving college town is Ruston, Louisiana where Louisiana Tech is located.   There are midsize towns along the way that have historical significance such as Vicksburg National Military Park.  The smallest towns I drove through, most of which were in Louisiana, seem to be towns that time has forgotten.  Frozen in time.  Very quiet.  The downtown store fronts were abandoned.  The hardware/farm implement store and a small grocery seemed to be the only businesses in operation.  Being a dreamer and able to envision what these towns must have looked like at an earlier time,  I was saddened to see their abandoned condition.  These towns were by-passed by the interstate system and fell, naturally, into their current condition.  Ghostly grey unpainted wooden buildings with or without roofs all in a row.  Transportation has always played an important part in the development and growth of our country.  The first settlements were along the coastline.  Eventually towns sprang up along rivers.  As overland routes were carved out through the wilderness, so came development.  As routes were abandoned or became less traveled the development slowed or stopped all together.  This is what I saw on my journey across US 80.  It is a slow paced drive.  If you take this route please plan on taking twice as long to reach your destination. You will be driving at a slower speed, stopping in smaller towns and, perhaps, enjoying a picnic along the way.  There is one constant that I could count on in nearly every town I drove through.  DOLLAR GENERAL   I believe this is the most popular store of choice across America.  Enjoy your trip.  Enjoy the sights.  Enjoy the sounds.  Enjoy the history.  Enjoy the slower pace.  Just enjoy!

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