The toll turnpike has a lineage that goes back to ancient times, even taking its name from a Medieval weapon. Privately constructed, for-profit turnpikes proliferated in 1800s North Carolina as – it was hoped – a remedy for the state's deplorable roads. And of course wherever you find a turnpike, you are likely to find a shunpike.
At the dawn of what would become the automobile age, not everyone was enthusiastic about the prospect of building modern roads, much less a state-wide highway system. Certainly the legislature did not see any role for state funds in such an undertaking. But the North Carolina Good Roads Association saw it differently, and it took the cause to the people.