Stan Hyatt:
The only missing link in this whole corridor now – from Charleston, South Carolina, to Columbus, Ohio – is the nine-mile section in Madison County. Of course, thirty years ago there were more sections in Kentucky, Virginia, and other places of this corridor. But it's a natural north-south corridor that's moved commerce and people. I suspect if you went back to the history, it was an old drover's route a hundred years ago, where people drove cattle and pigs and turkeys and things like they did down along the Buncombe Turnpike, down the French Broad River. I think they probably did the same thing across Sam's Gap, and so commerce has moved. It's been a natural corridor for over a hundred years. It became apparent, as these other sections were being completed on either end of Madison County back in the 70s, that this was or would be a missing link through Madison County that needed a more modern road than the old US 23 highway up Murray Mountain to Sam's Gap. That road was built in the mid-30s. I'm sure when they opened it up and had a ribbon-cutting back in the 30s you could just see the exubalation [slang for exuberance and exhilaration] on the faces of the people coming over the mountain from Erwin, Tennessee. But if you stop and look, they didn't have tractor-trailers then. The traffic count would have probably been a few hundred people a day, and today of course we have nearly 10,000 people a day and six to seven hundred tractor-trailer routes per day.

- Stan Hyatt, Resident Engineer on the I-26 project and Madison County resident

Interview with Stan Hyatt by Rob Amberg, November 30, 2000, Interview K-0249, in the Southern Oral History Program Collection #4007, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Click here to access the full interview.