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BY MIKE AVITT
Waubonsie was a member of the Potawatomi tribe and was born about 1760. He worked both with and against the United States of America during his career as Potawatomi leader. About 1845, the U. S. government built Waubonsie a house near Tabor, Iowa and it is believed by some that he died there about 1848. Coming from the east, it is thought Waubonsie traversed what would become the southern tier of counties in Iowa. That’s where we get the term, “Waubonsie Trail.”
What we know as State Highway No. 2 started out as the Waubonsie Trail. The name was changed in 1920 to Highway No. 3. It was after World War I that local, state and federal governments got serious about road building. The technology of automobiles advanced very quickly, but the construction of highways was a different matter.
In 1910, automobiles were now capable of making long trips, but the roads were a disaster. Rallies were held, committees were formed, and the newspapers were filled with promising messages, but the money and technology just wasn’t there. Before highways could be paved, bridges had to be built and roads had to be graded. It was a slow and expensive process.
I believe the first graveled highway in Ringgold County was Highway No. 3 from Mount Ayr to the Benton corner, in 1926. Benton was now located in Waubonsie Township, which was established in 1916 to accommodate the Benton Independent School District. Waubonsie township was created at the intersection of Rice, Benton, Grant, and Washington Townships.
The first concrete paving I’m aware of in Ringgold County took place at the Union County line (Shannon City corner) on U. S. Highway 169 in 1938. The hard-surfacing reached Mount Ayr in the fall of 1938. The last highway to get concrete was U. S. Highway 169 in 1955, from Mount Ayr to the Missouri state line. Highway 3 became State Highway No. 2 in 1941. The length of Highway 2, from the Decatur County line to the Taylor County line, was paved between 1939 and 1942.
This week’s picture was contributed by Florence Lawhead and I have used it before in a previous article. We are looking west on Highway 3 before the highway was re-routed to its current location in 1939.
U. S. 169 was called the Ayrline Highway in its beginning. In order to head south out of Mount Ayr, the Ayrline Highway took you south on Henderson Street past the Mount Ayr Vet Clinic and Ringgold County Secondary Roads Department.