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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Highway Commission

by Robert E. Ireland, 2006

Highway map of North Carolina prepared by the North Carolina State Highway Commission for the five year federal aid program, 1916. The first State Highway Commission, established by Governor Charles B. Aycock in 1901, consisted of the state geologist, the commissioner of agriculture, and a third person selected to act as secretary. This early commission filed only one report (in 1902) during its one-biennium lifespan; it had no budget with which to operate and was expected to serve only in an advisory capacity. It was not until 1915 that another commission was formed during the waning months of Governor Locke Craig's administration, this one a seven-member panel that included the governor, the state geologist, two road engineers, and three citizens selected by the governor. The result of years of effort by state geologist Joseph Hyde Pratt to create such a body, this second commission was formed in large part to meet the requirements for receiving federal funds for highway construction. A third restructuring of the State Highway Commission occurred in 1919 with passage of the Stacey Bill, which enabled the newly appointed commission to direct the state's increasing involvement in road building. Fueled by a massive $50 million bond issued in 1921, the commission, headed by Frank Page, undertook the construction and maintenance of nearly 6,000 miles of highway.

The State Highway Commission is viewed as the predecessor to the North Carolina Department of Transportation. In 1941 the General Assembly created the Department of Motor Vehicles, consolidating services previously provided by the secretary of state and the Department of Revenue. The Department of Motor Vehicles, in turn, was combined with the State Highway Commission to form the North Carolina Department of Transportation and Highway Safety through the Executive Organization Act of 1971 (which also created the North Carolina Board of Transportation). In 1979 "Highway Safety" was dropped from the department's name when the Highway Patrol Division was transferred to the newly created Department of Crime Control and Public Safety.


John Harden, North Carolina Roads and Their Builders, vol. 2 (1966).

Capus Waynick, North Carolina Roads and Their Builders, vol. 1 (1952).

Additional Resources:

State Highway Commission of North Carolina. Biennial Report of the State Highway Commission of North Carolina 1915-I916. Raleigh, N.C.: Edwards & Broughton. 1917.,152821.



Back in 1940's 1950's & 1960's when we were called Negroes State Highway Commission took our land and ruined our water well and never properly compensated us! The last time 1960's. Our house is on a tall hill our well was in our front yard about two hundred feet away from straight dirt road thru our property we had perfect sight distance entering from our East or West driveways! Our large front yard on hill was bulldozed to within two feet of our hand dug well with only about forty five feet deep! The hill was cut down to sixty feet to where they wanted road bed when grading was finished you could see water was leaking from hill into road ditch about a foot of water was standing in ditch that ran out of our well! It took a long time before anyone came out and looked at situation! State Highway Commission Man said they try to avoid getting close to someones well! Man looked at whole project and said they make a curve where road was straight it will be hard for y'all to see entering road from either driveway now! He said he would recommend we be paid for damaging our well it will go dry and more of our land was taken than needed! Usually we give the same amount of old road as land taken ! We got y'all's front yard and part of y'all's field that's more land than slice of that old road! Besides the old road is packed hard with gravel and rock plus all that burnt motor oil that's been sprayed on road over the years to come on dust you will never grow anything there! Well it took months but we finally got a letter saying we owned that slice of old road but no mention of damage to our well and front yard! My Family wrote back asking about damage to our well and front yard! Months later my Family received a letter saying we were lucky to get old road bed. We reserve the right to reimburse Negroes or not! Don't write to us again! If you do we will start proceedings to take all of y'all's farm land! Since y'all are Negroes that will be easy to do! My Family never got over being mistreated by a State in what's supposed to be America!


The main reason I believe State Highway Commission intentionally moved road to take our land because we are Negroes follows! In the 1960's when road was moved within inches of our well that made well go dry and took majority of our front yard wasn't first time that same section of road was moved on our property! Originally road was South of our barn and tennant house well over six hundred feet from our homes front yard and well! Mother and Grandparents said when State Highway Commission originally moved road some four hundred plus feet to North side of our barn and tennant house front of our barn and tennant house was on the edge of the dirt road! My Family didn't like our barn and tennant house being on edge of road afraid someone would walk out from barn or tennant house in front of a vehicle and get hurt or vehicle running into and damaging our tobbaco barn or even worst running into our tennant house and hurting our farm hand Resin! State Highway Commission told my Family they were not concerned about their barn or tennant house! Then said Negroes have no rights and they could take their entire farm if they wanted to!


I've been on a (so far) fruitless search for information about student (high school) bus drivers in North Carolina: The origins of the program, date(s) started, date ended...any and all information relating to student school bus drivers.
I have a 1965 edition of the Handbook for School Bus Drivers, written and published by the NC Department of Motor Vehicles, Driver Education and Accident Records Division. It's a very informative training manual, but tells nothing about the origins of the program.
I would appreciate any and all references available-so far I've found nothing in the online platforms of either the NC State Library or NC Dept of Archives and History.
Please Help?


When I started first grade in Fall of 1959 all the school bus driver were students. When I Graduate High School in Spring of 1971 school bus driver still were students! Talk about something that seems strange in today's world! At Rail Road Crossing bus driver would stop open door and send a student across track who would wave bus across track if clear!


I have stopped in Columbus nc and ask for tree to be cut beside highway was told Jody Flack would stop by and look and talk that we over month ago and no word,,If tree falls someone on highway could be hurt i have ask for help if it falls now and someone is hurt i blame Jody,,,, thank you i have did my part ,, now your time ,, let us see our tax dollars at work beside holding up a shovel or riding around in truck all day,,, tks Clifford


Dear Mr. Bradley,

Thank you for visiting NCpedia and taking time to share your comment. 

Your comment was made in an entry on an encyclopedia article for the North Carolina Highway Commission on the website for, North Carolina’s online encyclopedia. 

It sounds like you may have been trying to contact the North Carolina Division of Highways.  If so, I am including the link to their website here: You will find contact information on their website.

I see from their website that Polk County is in Division 14 on their map (on the home page).   Here is the link to information, including contact information, for Division 14:

I hope this information helps.

Best wishes,

Kelly Agan, NC Government & Heritage Library

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