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D. Ward King Road Grader Collection

Creator:
King, D. Ward  Search this
Extent:
0.75 Cubic feet ( 2 boxes, 1 map-folder)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Articles
Writings
Blueprints
Photographs
Photograph albums
Reprints
Poems
Scrapbooks
Letters (correspondence)
Date:
1902-2005
Summary:
Photographs, publications and correspondence related to D. Ward King's invention the King Road Drag, or the Split-Oak drag, which improved rural travel in the early 20th century by introducing a simple design and low-effort system for grading poor-quality roads. The King Road Drag was promoted heavily across the United States and Canada via the "Good Roads Campaign" originally sponsored by the railroad companies in the early decades of the twentieth century.
Scope and Contents:
This collection contains photographs, correspondence and articles documenting the road drag that D. Ward King invented to grade, drain water from, and improve the condition of rural roads in the early 20th century. Included are photographs of King, his family, the road drag, and the conditions of roads before and after treatment; a scrapbook containing letters and photographs; a blueprint of the road drag; as well as articles and reprints from various publications praising King's invention.

This collection would be of interest to researchers of the Good Roads movement, rural life and development in the early 20th century, and agricultural invention.
Arrangement:
This collection is arranged into three (3) series.

Series 1: Correspondence, 1907; 1909

Series 2: Publications, 1903; 1907-1917; 1999

Series 3: Photographs, circa 1905-1915; 1908-1910; 1919-1920
Biographical / Historical:
Born and educated in Springfield Ohio, David Ward King (1857-1920), who was known as D. Ward King, moved to rural Maitland, Missouri after his marriage in 1881 and began life as a farmer. In 1896, he demonstrated the use of his simple invention, dubbed the "King Road Drag" or the split-oak drag, which consisted of two split logs attached by crossbeams and hitched with a loop of chain to horses, to be dragged along a stretch of rutted muddy road until it was smooth. His rudimentary road grader had the effect not only of flattening and compacting muddy soil, but creating a crest in the center of the road, sloping down at each side, so that the next rain would run off the packed surface into the ditch. This basic scheme had a revolutionary effect on rural life--farmers were often mired in mud on the roads to their fields or into town, their most powerful draft horses unable to contend with wagon wheels sunken into deep ruts after heavy rains. Use of King's drag soon made their roads not only passable, but faster and safer to travel, which saved time and money for all in the community.

In 1903, King was employed by the Chicago and North Western Transportation Co. to promote his product across the country as part of their "Good Roads Campaign," giving lectures and demonstrations. King patented the King Road Drag (US Patent 884,497 and US Patent 1,102,671) in 1908 and later improved it in 1914. The United States Patent Office called his invention a "Road Grader," but King referred to it as a "split log drag," the "King Road Drag,"

Although King patented his invention, the simple design made it difficult to enforce patent rights, so farmers were encouraged to build and make use of their own versions of the road drag. Even after the railroads withdrew their support (the road drag's success had the effect of sending more potential passengers on the roads with their bicycles and cars, rather than riding the train), King made a decent living for years on the lecture circuit, presenting in 46 of the 48 then- existing states and Canada. His midwestern education made him an eloquent, dynamic speaker, and his talks were often sold out. The invention of the road drag and its almost evangelical use across the country has been credited for increased automobile use in the early part of the century, as well as the advent of parcel post delivery and mail-order catalogue supply to rural areas.
Provenance:
Collection donated by Helene W. King and Amy Burbank King in 2014.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Roads -- Design and construction  Search this
Road machinery  Search this
Road scrapers  Search this
Roads  Search this
Roads -- Accessories  Search this
Graders (Earthmoving machinery)  Search this
Inventors -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Inventions  Search this
Road drainage  Search this
Genre/Form:
Articles -- 20th century
Writings
Blueprints -- 20th century
Photographs -- Black-and-white photoprints -- 1900-1950
Photograph albums -- 20th century
Reprints
Poems
Scrapbooks -- 20th century
Letters (correspondence) -- 20th century.
Citation:
D. Ward King Road Grader Collection, 1903-2000, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.1332
See more items in:
D. Ward King Road Grader Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-1332
Online Media:

Road equipment and noise barriers for the Danish Road Directorate

Author:
Bernsen, Jens  Search this
Dansk Design Center  Search this
Physical description:
1 volume (unpaged) : illustrations (some color), plans ; 21 x 22 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
Denmark
Date:
2000
[2000]
Topic:
Roads--Design and construction  Search this
Highway engineering  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_1101810

Cultural landscape report for the historic motor road system, Acadia National Park / by Jeffrey Killion, H. Eliot Foulds

Title:
Cultural landscape report for the historic motor road system, Acadia National Park : site history, existing conditions, analysis, and treatment
Author:
Killion, Jeffrey 1967-  Search this
Foulds, H. Eliot 1960-  Search this
Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation (U.S.)  Search this
United States National Park Service  Search this
Physical description:
xxviii, 356 p. : ill., maps (some col., some folded) ; 28 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
Maine
Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park (Me.)
Date:
2007
[2007?]
Topic:
Roads--Conservation and restoration  Search this
Roads--Design and construction  Search this
Landscape assessment  Search this
Landscape protection  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_840566

Canada's "new Main Street" : the Trans-Canada Highway as idea and reality, 1912-1956 / David W. Monaghan

Author:
Monaghan, David W  Search this
Physical description:
ix, 90 p. : ill., maps ; 28 cm
Type:
Books
Place:
Canada
Trans-Canada Highway
Date:
2002
Topic:
Roads--History  Search this
Roads--Government policy--History  Search this
Highway planning  Search this
Federal aid to transportation  Search this
Roads--Design and construction  Search this
History  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_716980

America's national park roads and parkways : drawings from the Historic American Engineering Record / edited by Timothy Davis, Todd A. Croteau, and Christopher H. Marston ; with an introductory essay by Timothy Davis ; and foreword by Eric Delony

Author:
Davis, Timothy 1958-  Search this
Croteau, Todd A  Search this
Marston, Christopher H  Search this
Historic American Engineering Record  Search this
Physical description:
xii, 379 p. : ill., maps ; 29 x 44 cm
Type:
Pictorial works
Place:
United States
Date:
2004
Topic:
National parks and reserves  Search this
Roads  Search this
Parkways  Search this
Bridges  Search this
Historic sites  Search this
Roads--Design and construction  Search this
Parkways--Design and construction  Search this
Bridges--Design and construction  Search this
History, Local  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_749023

Ethnographic data recovery and treatment recommendations for the proposed improvement of Navajo Route 7 (5 & 7) in the area of Fluted Rock (Dził Dah Siʼáni) (AZ-P-7-55), Apache County, Arizona / prepared by David Zimmerman, Robert Johnson

Author:
Zimmerman, David  Search this
Johnson, Robert  Search this
United States Bureau of Indian Affairs Navajo Area Office Branch of Roads  Search this
Navajo Nation Historic Preservation Department  Search this
Physical description:
vii, 31 p. : ill., maps ; 28 cm. + 1 letter of transmittal ([1] p. ; 28 cm.)
Type:
Books
Place:
Navajo Indian Reservation
Arizona
Fluted Rock
Date:
2005
Topic:
Ethnology  Search this
Religion  Search this
Navajo mythology  Search this
Roads--Design and construction--Environmental aspects  Search this
Cultural property--Protection  Search this
Call number:
E99.N3 Z56 2005
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_776369

Paving tobacco road : a century of progress by the North Carolina Department of Transportation / Walter R. Turner

Author:
Turner, Walter R (Walter Rupert) 1942-  Search this
North Carolina Office of Archives and History  Search this
North Carolina Transportation Museum Foundation  Search this
Subject:
North Carolina Department of Transportation History  Search this
North Carolina Department of Transportation and Highway Safety History  Search this
Physical description:
xiii, 181 pages : illustrations, maps, charts ; 28 cm
Type:
Books
History
Place:
North Carolina
Date:
2003
©2003
Topic:
Roads--Design and construction--History  Search this
Bridges--Design and construction--History  Search this
Express highways--History  Search this
Interstate Highway System--History  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_1073272

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