Completion of Georgia Highway 38 (Oglethorpe Highway) 1934


Work on a paved highway from U.S. Highway 17 at Mid­way through Hinesville, Ludowici, Jesup, Blackshear, Way­cross, Valdosta, Thomasville, and Bainbridge to the Alabama state line commenced in 1927 and was completed in 1934.


There were those persons in Liberty County who stoutly maintained that no matter how much they tried, nobody would ever be able to build a road across the Altamaha River Swamp. But by 1932 millions of tons of earth and rock had been trucked in to build the roadbed, and those same persons were already traveling the road, even though it was not yet paved.


The Oglethorpe Highway, when it was completed, was 294 miles in length in Georgia. Before its construction, the people of Liberty County had to travel by train, or on U.S. Highway 17 or across Lanes Bridge in Tattnall County to reach Jesup and Blackshear.


It was on May 17, 1934, that a celebration, coordinated by the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce, took place on grounds of the National Guard Armory at Hinesville to mark the official opening of Georgia Highway 38, which was later redesignated U.S. Highway 82. Leading state officials came to Hinesville for the celebration.


Governor Eugene Talmadge spent the night before in McRae, Georgia, and early next day commenced his journey to Hinesville. He stopped along the way at various points where celebrations marking the opening of U.S. Highway 82 were also taking place. He delivered a speech to a large crowd at Jesup, where he was introduced by Solicitor Gener­al Ben Gibbs of the Brunswick Judicial Circuit. He made still another speech at Ludowici, where he was introduced by J .E. Long, a former Long County commissioner. Most of the officials attending those two celebrations followed the governor's motorcade to Hinesville.


Reverend J.F. Merrin , pastor of the Flemington Presby­terian Church, gave the invocation when the official program commenced at noon. Hinesville Mayor Henry Lowe made a welcome address to the more than 3,000 spectators in the racetrack grandstand at the National Guard Armory. D.S. Owen, president of the Liberty County Chamber of Com­merce, introduced Frank M. Oliver, president of the Ogle­thorpe Highway Association, for whom the bridge across the Altamaha River was named.


Owen then introduced members of the State Highway Board and other guests, including D .M. Parker of Ware County; S.F. Memory of Pierce County; W.B. Gibbs of Wayne Coun­ty; Arthur Solomon of Chatham County; Mayor Thomas Gamble, representing Savannah and Chatham County; E. George Butler, representing the Savannah Chamber of Com­merce, and Edgar Wortsman, representing the Savannah Automobile Association. The 188th Field Artillery Band presented a program of music throughout the day. Harvey Granger of Savannah, who contributed so much to completion of the highway, intro­duced Governor Talmadge, principal speaker of the day.


Governor Talmadge spoke at length about the great eco­nomic impact U.S. Highway 82 would have on Southeast Georgia. He also gave recognition to the many people who worked tirelessly for its completion.


There was a free barbecue dinner for all those attending the celebration in the afternoon. The Liberty Independent Troop than presented a program of equestrian events pro­duced by Joseph B. Fraser Jr. and C.J. Martin Jr.


From "Sweet Land of Liberty, A History of Liberty County, Georgia" by Robert Long Groover; Page(s) 91-92; Used by the permission of the Liberty County Commissioners Office 




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