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A Champion of Good Roads

Postcard from a student at the State Normal and Industrial College (now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro), Sept. 24, 1906

Harriet Berry

Harriet Morehead Berry, often called the champion of good roads, was born in 1877 in Hillsborough. Tutored by her mother until age 12, she then attended the Nash-Kollock School in Hillsborough and the State Normal and Industrial School (present UNC-Greensboro). In 1901 Berry went to work with the North Carolina Geological and Economic Survey in Chapel Hill, led by Joseph Hyde Pratt. She rose from stenographer to secretary for the Survey, and became its acting head in 1917 when Pratt entered military service. As acting director, Berry became active with the Good Roads Association and in 1919 led that organization in lobbying for legislation to create a state highway commission. Believing that the adopted bill was inadequate she undertook a massive campaign to fix it, speaking in 89 counties and flooding the state with news releases and petitions. The General Assembly responded in 1921, creating a strong highway commission and setting the foundation for the modern highway system. As a result of her efforts, the News and Observer called her “the best woman politician in the state.” In 1986 the Board of Transportation named a section of Interstate 40 through Orange County the “Harriet Morehead Berry Freeway.” Read more from the N.C. Museum of History here.


There is also a roadside marker for her works on NC 86 at I-40:

Yep! If you click the second link in the post, "Harriet Morehead Berry" it will take you to take that page as well. The Highway Historical Markers Program is a part of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources. Thanks for following us!

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