When automobiles were an adventure: a 1918 excursion through Cobb County

A photo of a 1918 newspaper with the headline Alabama Bound Today: Atlanta to Borden Wheeler

by Larry Felton Johnson

Reading old newspapers has always been an interest of mine, and with the development of the Georgia Historic Newspapers website I’ve been like a kid in a candy store.

Georgia Historic Newspapers is part of the GALILEO project, and is housed at the University of Georgia.

The project team finds and scans copies of Georgia newspapers, and now includes newspapers from the 17th century through the present.

They digitize the papers into PDF copies and run Optical Character Recognition (OCR) on them so that they are searchable and available in text format (although the text renderings are not perfect).

This morning I decided to do a search on Acworth, Kennesaw, and Smyrna, and limit my search to the Hearst paper that published in Atlanta from the late 19th to early 20th centuries, the Atlanta Georgian.

On the first result screen there was a front page of a 1918 Hearst supplement, the Sunday American, with the headline “We’re Alabama Bound Today: Atlanta to Borden Wheeler.”

You can see the copy from the original by following this link.

As a bit of background: roads in the United States were terrible in 1918. A few years back I published another item from the Georgia Historic Newspapers site about a woman who drove from downtown Atlanta to Lithia Springs via Mableton and Austell in 1911, and the short blurb, also from the Atlanta Georgian, read as if she were undertaking a cross-country race. By 1918 some additional paving had been done, but not much.

The article from the Sunday American described the itinerary in detail, including mileage covered along the way a few descriptions of hazards.

Here’s a transcription. I have no idea what “FISH” is but apparently it was an obvious enough place in 1918 that it was included in the itinerary without explanation.

The Itinerary


From Five Points and Peachtree street go north on Marietta street. Disregard all right forks and keep left with trolley to end of trolley. (Or take first right paved fork on Marietta and you go to river via Howell Mill road. On this route you skip Inman Yards and Bolton.)

4.8 INMAN YARDS. Take left fork. Cross bridge over rail road. At north end of bridge is very dangerous curve hid den by yellow two-story office. Twelve persons have been killed here by head-on collisions and by striking side of bridge with autos and motorcycles,

7.7 BOLTON. Cross river bridge. Keep straight.

13.8 SMYRNA. Straight through. 18.7 At stone yard take right fork across railroad; bear left and follow trolley into

19.6 MARIETTA Turn left one block to in front of First Na tional Bank, then turn right. Go west straight on Church street three blocks, you pass church and then library on Church street. The ‘‘third’’ block is the first left-hand turn after the library. Turn left across railroad between Marietta and Kennesaw and left at tank.

At 20.6 miles you come into the main battle area of Kennesaw.

26.7 KENNESAW. Turn left at sign. Water tank. Go one block. Turn right. Go straight.

32.0 ACWORTH. Straight through.

36.6 ALLATOONA. Straight through. Walk up railroad two hundred yards and see soldier’s grave. 39.6 EMERSON. Straight through,

41.4 Bear right through covered bridge.

42.6 Cross railroad, follow railroad on right side into

43.7 CARTERSVILLE. At garage turn left. Cross railroad in town. Go straight through. At sign turn left and follow “Taylorsville’’ sign, passing gin house here.

58.4 TAYLORSVILLE. Entering Taylorsville, turn left, leaving station to your right. Straight on to

65.4 ROCKMART. (You can get a good country meal here at the hotel.)

Straight on to

70.7 FISH to

79.5 CEDARTOWN. When you reach Main street, in Cedar town, turn left, and go through town. Pass station, three blocks, cross concrete bridge. Second block from bridge turn right at big white house sitting high. You are now 13 miles from Borden Wheeler. This is a typical country road, narrow in spots. It twists and turns, but stick to it, passing Emson and Palestine and on to Borden Wheeler station. This station is two miles from the Borden Wheeler Hotel. Cross railroad, pass station and store and go straight on to hotel. Blow your horn around curve, as road is narrow and hotel bus and wagons are liable to bob up.

92 .5 BORDEN WHEELER STATION. Two miles from here to hotel. that it would take another chapter in which to do justice.

More on Georgia Historic Newspapers

The Georgia Historic Newspapers site is worth browsing, whether you’re doing research on some historic event, personality or place, or just to entertain yourself.

You can set the range by years, set it to specific cities or newspapers, and limit the search in a number of different ways. It gives a window into how newspapers and our region have changed over the past 200 years.