Throwback Thursday: Just two trucks, lots of horses for the 1915 Arizona Highway Department

By Peter Corbett / ADOT Communications

The Arizona Highway Department convoy spread out along Apache Trail (now State Route 88), with an open-cab truck leading the way and a line of horsemen bringing up the rear.

It was 1915, a few years after statehood, and a black-and-white photograph shows an early Arizona road crew using one of the Highway Department’s two trucks to move from near Roosevelt Dam to Mormon Flat.

Other fading photos above from the Arizona Department of Transportation archive – the agency changed names in 1974 – show three workers from a state prison honor camp perched on a bridge between Globe and Florence.

You'll see a dozen canvas tents in a highway work camp. Another shows a road bed with a surveyor’s transom on what would become the Bisbee-to-Tombstone highway, State Route 80.

These historic road-building photos reveal how far Arizona's transportation agency has come in a century.

Only 7,368 cars were registered in Arizona in 1915, and there were no paved highways. Today there are about 4.8 million cars, pickups and vans traveling on more than 6,100 miles of highway.

And ADOT obviously has quite a few more trucks these days. One of our 200 snowplows could easily carry the Highway Department’s two 1915-era trucks, with room to spare for a tractor or two.

Another big change over the century is that ADOT relies on a different kind of horsepower for all its road work. The real horses have been put out to pasture.