Ever since the wheel was invented thousands of years ago, people have looked for smooth, even surfaces on which to roll.
And eventually they decided to construct paths, roads and highways to accommodate their wagons, buggies and automobiles.
Here in the Walla Walla Valley as elsewhere, the rugged byways evolved into modern-day asphalt surfaces. But it's been at great expense in a seemingly endless struggle to maintain and repair the thoroughfares.
City of Walla Walla officials estimate that about 115 of our 140 miles of roads and underground pipes are currently failing, so they have embarked on a 93-year replacement plan. Up to two miles of the infrastructure will be completely rebuilt each year, primarily funded by increased sewer and water rates. This year's projects will include work on Bonsella, Estrella, Figueroa and Whitman streets.
The Union-Bulletin will be publishing a series of stories in coming weeks about the replacement work, including a historical piece on initial planning and paving of our streets beginning more than 100 years ago.
Meanwhile here's an initial look back, thanks to pictures from contemporary issues of Up-To-The-Times Magazine and other sources compiled in the Bygone Walla Walla CD collection by Joe Drazan, retired Whitman College librarian.