From the Encyclopedia of North Carolina.
The state has around 78,000 miles of paved roads, one of the highest in the United States. They were initially the product of the Good Roads movement of the early 20th century.
Roads across the state had improved little since colonial days and the state's were among the worst with steep grades, blind curves and river crossings. Seasonably, they were either bottomless quagmires of mud or dust. In the red clay country, wagon wheels turned ruts into small ponds.
Building and maintaining roads were up to "road tax" as it was called, where land-owners were required to work on the roads for a certain number of days a year. With the lack of machinery and knowledge, it was no surprise they were bad.