Thursday, September 22, 2005
Back in the days before state and federal highways, roads were basically maintained on their own. Private stretches of roads would be closed off to people. They could, however, travel on these private roads, if they paid a certain fee. These days we recognize that fee as a toll. How did the Powers That Be ensure people paid the toll? They would take a large log, called a pike, and place it at a point in the road. The only way to get your carriage past the pike was to pay the toll, at which case the attendent would rotate the pike on its axis (usually a post it was attached to, think of a gate). From this practice of turning the log we get the term turnpike.