Who Is Ross Clark?

By: Victoria Rosa Email
By: Victoria Rosa Email

You drive on it., you eat on it, you even sleep on it, Ross Clark Circle.

Although it's one of the most notable names in the city, who is Ross Clark?

"Ross Clark was a close family member of Jim Folsom, " said former Dothan Mayor, Larry Register.

Jim Folsom was Alabama's Governor at the time and crucial in getting the Circle finished.

Carlos Oppert, whose father was Folsom's County Campaign Chairman and a key figure in getting the Circle completed, says his father and several other officials at the time knew the key words to get the Governor to agree.

"Ross Clark was his favorite brother in law and my dad knew that and he told the Governor we need to complete this traffic circle and I know what we could name it, we could name it the Ross Clark circle and the Governor just said man, we'll do it, " says Oppert.

So how would residents feel about naming such a big part of the city after someone they knew so little about?

Turns out the name didn't matter as much as the possibilities.

"They were excited about it because it was going to present a lot of opportunities for people to build businesses around the traffic Circle and it was hard for people to envision what it was going to do in Dothan because no one ever had a Circle around the city, " said Oppert.

"One major industry came in Dothan, came because they were looking at a map and they saw the circle around Dothan on the map so this gentleman called me and said to me, what is that around the city? What is that road? What does all that mean? So I told him how accessible it was among other things and they wound up locating a plant here, " said Register.

Although the man behind the Circle may still remain somewhat of a mystery...

"All I know is that he was from Elba, Alabama and he was Big Jim Folsom's favorite brother in law and thats about it, " said Oppert.

Ross Clark definitely left his mark on the city.

"It's just enabled businesses to build on the traffic circle, its opened up a lot of avenues for business in Dothan Alabama, " said Oppert.

When the circle was finished in 1958, no other city in the Country was encircled by a 4-lane divided highway.


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