OKLAHOMA HIGHWAYS PUBLICATIONS
Since 1912 a number of publications had the words "Oklahoma Highways" as part of their title. They include Oklahoma Highways: A Journal Devoted to the Building and Maintenance of Roads, Oklahoma Highways Bulletin, Oklahoma Highways, Oklahoma Highwayman, and Oklahoma Highway News. Apparently, the early periodicals were short lived, possibly due to lack of paid subscriptions or because they no longer served their original purpose. The first publications appeared after the national Good Roads Movement began during the late 1800s and after the advent of the automobile necessitated improved roads.
In 1911, four years after statehood, the third legislature established the Oklahoma Department of Highways. In April 1912, one year after the highway department was organized, the Oklahoma State Good Roads Association published the first issue of Oklahoma Highways: A Journal Devoted to the Building and Maintenance of Roads. Assistant Commissioner of the State Highway Department Clark C. Hudson served as editor of the monthly publication, which was printed by the association, located in the Mercantile Building in Oklahoma City. The organ cost ten cents per issue or one dollar annually. Initially, it was issued without advertisements so that more space could be used to disseminate information. However, it apparently became necessary to include advertisements in order to cover publication costs. Advertisements for culverts, road graders, and steel forms for the construction of concrete culverts and bridges appeared in the second issue.
In the first issue, dated April 1912, W. R. Goit, the state highway engineer and president of the State Good Roads Association, provided an article entitled "Road Construction and Drainage." In June 1912 Oklahoma geologist Charles N. Gould wrote the lead article, entitled "Limestones Suitable for Road Material in Oklahoma." In addition to covering local issues, the publication reported the road-building experiences of other states such as Massachusetts and Tennessee. Extant issues include April, June, and September 1912.
Seven years later Oklahoma Commissioner of Highways Henry Wood served as editor of the Oklahoma Highways Bulletin, begun in November 1919. As stated in the first issue, its purpose was to promote better roads in Oklahoma. Generally, the organ featured on its front cover a picture of one of Oklahoma's many bridges made of wood, concrete, or steel. Advertisements included local and out-of-state manufacturing and construction companies. Articles focused on the funding for road improvements and the benefits of better roads, such as assisting farmers in getting their produce to market. The January 1920 issue of Oklahoma Highway Bulletin included an automobile and truck registration tax table. The cost of registering motorcycles and automobiles was based on the value of the vehicle, ranging from one dollar to five thousand dollars. Cost of registration of trucks was based on their carrying capacity in pounds. For example, an automobile valued at five hundred dollars or less cost ten dollars to register, while a truck with a carrying capacity of fifteen hundred pounds or less cost fifteen dollars to register. Extant issues include November and December 1919 and January through April and June through August 1920.
The Oklahoma State Highway Commission published the Oklahoma Highways magazine during the 1940s. Profusely illustrated with black and white and color photographs of Oklahoma's landscape and industries, the publication promoted the state to travelers as well as to its residents. To assist motorists a state highway map was reproduced in the September 1946 issue. The December 1946 issue of Oklahoma Highways featured Oklahoma's higher education with images of state colleges.
Extant copies of the Oklahoma Highwayman indicate that it served as a forum for disseminating departmental, educational, and other information to the Oklahoma Department of Highways employees. Begun in 1966 the publication was issued bimonthly. In the February 1970 issue it was noted that the Oklahoma Highwayman would be directed toward Oklahoma businesses and industries as well as colleges and chambers of commerce. With this change, it was estimated that the circulation would increase from 4,100 to 8,500. In order to get information to employees on a more timely basis, a monthly newsletter called the Oklahoma Highway News was produced.
Each publication served a specific audience. Oklahoma Highways (1912) and the Oklahoma Highway Bulletin (1919-20) promoted the building of good roads, whereas the Oklahoma Highways magazine published in the 1940s offered images of Oklahoma to entice the motorist to see the state. Generally, Oklahoma Highwayman and Oklahoma Highway News were printed for the benefit of Oklahoma Department of Highway employees. Without an extant set of any of these publications, no determination can be made as to when the last issues were published.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Highways," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Oklahoma Department of Highways Collection, Archives, Oklahoma Department of Libraries, Oklahoma City.
Linda D. Wilson
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