July 10, 1908


A meeting of ranchers from the Los Nietos and La Habra valleys. Although the image is murky, it’s possible to make out one wagon and one automobile.


Dropcap_w_hamburger arning: Some readers aren’t going to like this post because it contradicts today’s popular wisdom that the wealthy led the campaign for better roads to accommodate their fancy new automobiles.

Don’t blame me; blame John Scott, a rancher from La Habra. Scott addresses a meeting of ranchers from the La Habra and Los Nietos valleys urging support for a bond measure for a massive road-building project throughout Los Angeles County. 

Selections from his speech:

"The question of good roads is one the importance of which cannot be overestimated. To no class of people are they of greater moment than to the rancher. We will profit by the system of highways to a greater extent than any other class of people and it is but right that we should bear a good share of the brunt of the campaign."

"Roads with us are public utilities and not ornaments. The pleasure carriage and the automobile are not the chief vehicles that pass over our highways. I venture to say that, many as they are, they are greatly outnumbered by the fruit and grain wagons.

"A six-horse wagon, loaded with sacks of grain, makes no light load, and it is a heavy tax on any road’s surface. We all of us know what it is to be delayed by mud in winter and smothered by dust in summer."

""If there were nothing to be considered but the comfort and the welfare of the ranchers, the highways would certainly be worth all they will cost. They will mean that we can transport our crops to the railroads with the greatest speed and convenience, thereby saving time and energy."

"To be sure, there are careless auto drivers, but the average man is not in the business of maiming and killing, and the man who is careless of the safety of his fellow man will be just as dangerous on a poor road as on a good one."

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About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
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