From Dell Rapids' Attic - History
Gravel Roads Expensive
Before the days of paved roads, travelers often had to put up with hazardous and deplorable travel conditions. Roads were often impassible during the rainy seasons. During the dry seasons, there was often a problem with dust. On a day of busy traffic, the dust - granite dust, at that, was often stirred up. It never seems to settle. Travelers from Dell Rapids to Sioux Falls, or from Sioux Falls to Dell Rapids could not take even one breath that was free of rock dust.
The following story that describes the road conditions between Sioux Falls and Dell Rapids was printed in the Dell Rapids Tribune on November 7, 1929. It first appeared as an editorial in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.
Gravel Roads Expensive
The rain and snow of last week created havoc with several major highways in South Dakota. Despite extensive efforts to maintain them, big ruts developed and the surface was far from satisfactory. The road from Sioux Falls to Dell Rapids, rebuilt this year, was in such poor shape for a time that motorists were unable to travel faster than 15 or 20 miles an hour.
On the subject of maintenance costs in general and the advisability of paving is the following editorial from the Chamberlain Democrat:
Graveled roads are so expensive to maintain that in a short time people who now think we cannot afford to start paving in South Dakota, will wonder why we were so foolish as to let the money slip through our fingers for so long. The money spent for men and machines to do what is generally termed road maintaining, together with all the other expense of incidentals and administration is not half the bill. The wear and tear on perfectly good cars as they are jammed day after day over these corrugated roads, as they bounce and flounder over the humps and holes at the bottoms of the hills, is something to reckon with, and it costs real money.
Many are arriving at the conclusion that gravel roads are too expensive and that it is false economy to keep them in preference to paving on major routes. We may cite the Sioux Falls-Dell Rapids road an illustration. This road has been almost constantly in the hands of the highway doctors for several years. Huge expenditures have been made in rebuilding, regarding and regraveling. Despite this, the road has been unsatisfactory. It has been necessary to close it to heavy traffic in prolonged wet seasons. Even when no major operation was being performed on this road, maintenance men have been busily engaged in attempting to smoothen the wrinkles and cavities. All this costs real money. Rebuilding expenses this year are estimated at about $105,000. And, we haven’t much to show for it. Cost of maintaining this road for the past five or six years must run into large figures. If we added to this the additional costs to motorists the total would be amazing.
Paving is the only solution to the Sioux Falls-Dell Rapids road problem.