Grant County Toll Roads
In the late eighteenth century, one of the hot local issues in many Kentucky counties was the freeing of roads. Roads at that time were virtually all toll roads, and that meant you paid a gatekeeper to pass on any given road. Sometimes the gatekeeper used the tolls to pay for the upkeep of the roads, or pikes; other times, the gatekeeper just collected the toll. But as some counties and cities began buying out the gatekeepers, removing the toll gates, and “freeing” the roads. It became a subject of some controversy, and in many counties, the cause of the violent burning of the tollgates. The Louisville Courier Journal, on December 6, 1896, ran a county by county synopsis of what was happening in the various counties on toll gates. Here's what they had to day about Grant County:
“Grants Pikes Pay Dividends The question of free turnpikes has never been submitted to the voters of Grant county, although considerable talk favorable to free pikes had been indulged for several years. Grant county has expended over half-million dollars in constructing a system of turnpikes, until nearly every thoroughfare has been macadamized. They are built by stock companies. The County Fiscal Court subscribes $750 to the mile and individuals subscribe a sufficient amount to complete the construction of the road. Toll-gates are erected on most of the roads, and the toll receipts are used to keep the road in repair and to pay dividends on the capital stock. The county receives each year from these roads from $1,500 to $2,000 as dividends on the stock subscribed. The roads pay from 1 to 5 per cent on the capital stock. The county's indebtedness at the present time is $98,500 and to secure free turnpikes it would have to increase that indebtedness nearly $100,000, which would make interest-bearing debt a great burden on the taxpayers. The question will be submitted to the voters of Grant county before many more years and from present indications the vote will result in favor of free turnpikes.”
From the Louisville Courier Journal, December 6, 1896. Other counties in the Northern Kentucky Views area, mentioned in the Courier's article, were Grant, Owen, and Mason.