John Hollis Bankhead
As chairman of the Post Office and Post Road committee, this Alabama senator played a pivotal, if forgotten role in the early development of Georgia and the Deep South. In The Horseless Age (1909) Charles Duryea, a pioneer in automobile manufacture wrote that Southern roads were "still bottomless beds of sand or badly gullied clay hills..." but predicted that one day the South would be interested in "low geared, strongly constructed, practical rigs."
Bankhead was in a position to change that, building a road from Washington D. C. to San Diego, California, designed to improve the speed of the mail, but also to give these areas a quality road by which to travel and transport goods. The route, which traversed the state of Georgia, ran through Royston, Athens, Lawrenceville, Decatur, Atlanta, Douglasville, Villa Rica and Tallapoosa. A portion of the original Bankhead Highway is still known by that name in Cobb County.
Although the Lincoln Highway predated it, when the Bankhead Highway opened in 1916 it was the first paved transcontinental highway in America.