As private citizens of the United States we are endowed with certain inalienable rights which includes griping about pot holes in the roads and high taxes.
Never mind there might be a connection between the two. The more roadwork which gets done, the more taxes it may take. But lets get off the subject of taxes because it might lead to political issues.
In order for us to fuss about the poorly repaired ditches dug across our streets or the pot holes, we have to be travelling in an automobile of some kind. This puts us at a distinct advantage over the early citizens of Gaines County.
Take a trip with me back over the bumpy roads of years gone by, to the very early days of Gaines County and then forward to the present day.
Arzie Kirk wrote, "The road system of the early settlers was very inadequate. It consisted almost entirely of a system of wagon tracks from one windmill to another windmill. It was and is surprising how straight a line these tracks followed. In 1906 there were no roads to Midland except one down through the pasture of Five Wells," (east of Andrews). "The second Jury of View appointed was to approve a road south to the center of the Andrews County line.
"The freight wagons going to Midland would allow about two days to make the trip down, and with good luck they could make it back with the heavy load in three or four days. But this road went through some of the deepest sand in the county and there were times when the heavily loaded freight wagons could not make a mile a day, and the average freighter would allow about one thousand pounds per horse and could not haul an extra supply of water. Besides fighting the sand, finding water was the big worry for the freighters on these trips to Midland and Stanton." (Lubbock was not a very big town at this time, it became the county seat of Lubbock County in 1909, and the first settlers arrived at Hobbs, New Mexico in 1909 according to Hobbs, N.M. Commuinty guide. So most of the freight for Seminole came from Midland, Stanton or Big Spring).
"The horses would pull and get thirsty and the driver could not hold them back when they arrived at water. He would have to jump out of the wagon and catch the lead team and circle the freight wagon until he could unhitch the team to keep the horses from going into the tank with the wagon and freight. This Jury of View consisted of Ed Ramsey, Ed Murphy, J.H. Yates, E.M. Moss, and L.B. Elam." (A Jury of View was a panel of five men selected by the county commissioners court to lay out a new roadway in the county).
Kirk continued, "The next Jury of View appointed and acting in their capacity as such was to establish a road west from the County seat of Gaines County to Monument, New Mexico. However, this road was abandoned at the time, as damages were too high and conditions very unsatisfactory. This Jury of View consisted of W.H. Underwood, C.M. Breckon, Frank Waldrop, J.W. Richards and Charley Trimble.
"A Jury of View consisting of W.H. Morrow, J.J. Williams, Guy Stark, C.M. Kelly and Julius Williams was appointed to appraise a road north to Brownfield, the county seat of Terry County and to intersect the line of Yoakum County, which was still unorganized.
"In 1912 the first road work was done when the county commissioners let a contract to G.W. Howell to scrape out the sand on the Lamesa road from the Harter place east of town to the old Wright place for $1,200. This work was done by G.W. Howell and his son, Babe Howell. This construction was under the supervision of W.R. Slaton, who was then County Judge, and it was followed by a wet year.
"Like all scraped out roads it was filled with water holes almost continually. The next election year, in 1914, Slaton was opposed in his race; the main slogan and argument to his appointment being that Slaton should be defeated on account of the scraped out road, which his opponent called, "Slaton's Canal."
"This first road has been followed by a very elaborate system of roadways throughout the entire county." (We have no date for this next statement but you will be able to see the improvements in our day and age). "The county now has, 30 miles of U.S. four lane, divided highway with right-of-way being cleared for 30 miles more of the same. There are 50 miles of U.
S. two lane highway; and 188 miles of State maintained pavement. In addition to this there is 187 miles of county built and maintained pavement, supplemented by 723 miles of graded and caliche filled roads maintained by the county. Also there are many miles of roads across pastures, along fence-rows and between fields which are traveled from daily to occasionally but not maintained by the county." (This is the end of Kirk's history, the parenthesis's are mine, L.C.)
It would be nice to know at just what date these words were written, but we don't know. We do have information about Gaines County roads in 2014, a hundred years after the Slaton's Canal debacle. As this was being written, tankers were delivering seal coat to roads in the southwest part of Seminole. This is part of a $300,000 seal coat project. These funds are a part of a grant made available by the Texas Legislature through Senate Bill 1747.
The state allotted $225,000,000 to be split between the 254 counties in Texas. This was to be distributed according to the oil production activity in each county. It was to be an 80% / 20% match. Some counties didn't participate and so Seminole's allotment was $4,124,733. After Gaines County put in their 20% the total came to $5,155,960. To be used for the project list of County Energy Reinvestment Transportation Zone, (CERTZ).
We learned from information gathered by county commissioner Blair Tharp that Gaines County currently has a total of 1032.3 miles of roadway maintained by the county. 667.4 miles are pavement, 232.2 are caliche, and 132.7 miles are dirt roads.
On top of these figures according to Wikipidia, Gaines County has a total of 1094 miles of U.S. Highways, and some 249 miles of State Highways. These are not maintained by the county.
We have to admit this is a vast improvement over wagon ruts between windmills, but because of the growth of the population and the wear and tear on the roads by traffic, especially heavy truck traffic, the imfistructure always needs improving..