Thursday, August 25, 2016
In the earliest days of American Highways, before there was the numbered route system of today, there were National Auto Trails. One of the most prominent of these trails was the Dixie Highway where the western branch connected Chicago and Miami. The first and only president of the Dixie Highway Association was judge M. M. Allison of Chattanooga. The original route through the area involved building a road up and down Walden's Ridge in the Suck Creek area, a project that lasted from about 1919-24. Since this area atop Walden's Ridge was the highest point along the Dixie Highway as well as vaguely the midpoint between Chicago and Miami, the Association decided to build a small roadside park here as well as this monument which was dedicated in 1924.
An editorial discussing the event in the Atlanta Constitution by editor Clark Howell, one of Georgia’s two directors on the Dixie Highway Association, said, “No man in the south has contributed more to the development of the south--indeed the whole country for it is a national project-- than Judge Allison in his faithful and untiring work in this one outstanding interstate highway project”
The text of the marker, which still stands, states: "This memorial is erected by the people of the United States to mark their appreciation of the great service rendered our country by Judge M. M.Allison, president of the Dixie Highway Association since its organization in 1915. The Dixie Highway was founded upon his faith, his hope and his far vision, his indefatigable labor throughout the states wherein it winds its useful way made possible its realization."
With all of the hairpin turns and difficult terrain to navigate, an alternate and more popular route between Jasper and Chattanooga was soon developed, which today is highway US41. In other words, the original Dixie Highway marker was essentially bypassed for a more convenient route, however this small pullover and monument is still there today as the road is now state highway TN27.