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Concrete Evidence


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#1 mobilene

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 07:50 AM

I could see from Google Maps' aerial imagery that there was a sliver of old alignment in front of the Hopewell Elementary School. (Check it out at 39.95433, -82.19975). I was very pleased when I arrived there to find a strip of old concrete.

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Concrete alignment by mobilene, on Flickr

That shot is westbound; this one's eastbound from the same location. It fades away into the neighborhood ahead. It looks, from the air, like a pretty long stretch of the old concrete road was torn out here when modern US 40 was built.

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Concrete alignment by mobilene, on Flickr

I found just a few other brief strips of concrete, all of them at ends of old alignments that were otherwise asphalted. This blind hill is just west of Gratiot. Although the main turnoff from the old alignment through Gratiot is just behind me, you can still drive this strip of concrete. 39.948112, -82.231979

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Blind hill by mobilene, on Flickr

Here's a closeup of the concrete itself. It's pretty lumpy stuff, full of medium-sized pebbles, rather than the ultra smooth stuff you see today.

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Concrete by mobilene, on Flickr

Here's where that concrete strip ends.

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The end of the Gratiot alignment by mobilene, on Flickr

I found another short stretch of concrete at the west end of an old alignment signed Mt. Hope Road. 39.954322, -82.312145

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Mt. Hope Road by mobilene, on Flickr

I found the last little bit of concrete at the end of an old alignment that was signed Panhandle Road. 39.959096, -82.369297

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Panhandle Rd. by mobilene, on Flickr

Somewhere among all these little bits of concrete I found this monument. It commemorates two things -- the highest elevation along Ohio's National Road, and the concrete paving of the National Road between Zanesville and Hebron. I learned here that the concrete was poured between 1914 and 1916! This is now officially the oldest concrete I've ever knowingly driven. I just wish there had been more!

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Eagle's Nest monument by mobilene, on Flickr

My understanding is that this concrete was considered a grand experiment at the time. People were so excited about the new concrete road that they held a parade along its length on the day it opened.

Here's a closeup of the stone. It's a little easier to read the inscription here.

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Eagle's Nest monument by mobilene, on Flickr

The east side says it's 220 miles to Cumberland; the west side says it's 39 miles to Columbus.

#2 Keep the Show on the Road!

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 10:32 AM

Jim,

That is an amazing discovery!

Do I see expansion joints?

We have some concrete sections of the old Pacific Highway (US99) that date to 1914, and the aggregate is like your photo. I suppose the size of aggregate was standardized later.

Thanks for sharing!

Dave

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#3 mobilene

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 11:39 AM

Dave, yes, it does appear that there are lateral expansion joints across the pavement. They are most apparent on the blind hill. The concrete is cracked enough elsewhere that it's hard to tell the cracks from the joints.

The only vintage photo of this concrete road I found doesn't show the strips (shoulders?) on the sides, as in the first and third photos. I wonder if those were added later? Hard telling.

As for the aggregate, here's a shot of some concrete on Indiana's NR, which I believe to have been poured in about 1923. I find it interesting how the rocks all appear to have been broken or cut, with flat surfaces. I'm not wise in the ways of concrete but I've sure looked at a lot of it on old roads now, and this is the only time I've ever seen this.

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#4 DennyG

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 11:49 AM

1914? Pshaw! When we Ohioans want to drive on old concrete we head about thirty miles north of the National Road to Bellefontaine where the pavement was ready and waiting before the first Model T came along.

But those are good pictures -- and some very nice reporting -- of some of our "middle aged" pavement. :D

#5 mobilene

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 01:56 PM

Yes, one day I'll venture to Bellefontaine to see the ancient concrete!

#6 Keep the Show on the Road!

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 02:14 PM

Dave, yes, it does appear that there are lateral expansion joints across the pavement. They are most apparent on the blind hill. The concrete is cracked enough elsewhere that it's hard to tell the cracks from the joints.

The only vintage photo of this concrete road I found doesn't show the strips (shoulders?) on the sides, as in the first and third photos. I wonder if those were added later? Hard telling.

As for the aggregate, here's a shot of some concrete on Indiana's NR, which I believe to have been poured in about 1923. I find it interesting how the rocks all appear to have been broken or cut, with flat surfaces. I'm not wise in the ways of concrete but I've sure looked at a lot of it on old roads now, and this is the only time I've ever seen this.

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Jim,

I suspect by 1923 they were using rock crushers to produce aggregate of "standard" size, thus, the difference between rounded, random sized stones, and broken stones of similar size. Maybe another useful clue in dating old roads?

Dave

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#7 mobilene

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 03:53 PM

One thing's for sure, Dave -- it's fun to catalog these details for later use in old-road dating! -Jim

#8 DennyG

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Posted 20 July 2011 - 07:11 AM

I believe that as a kid I saw those flat sided stones in pavement and thought that either years of traffic had worn them flat or that someone had ground them or chiseled them after the concrete had set. But I now imagine that running a roller over fresh pavement will align flat surfaces that way. Of course, I have nothing to substantiate that any more than my earlier vision of road workers going over the entire surface with hammers and chisels.

Dating roads with crushed vs. whole and small vs. large rocks seems extremely reasonable.

#9 knightfan26917

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 09:08 PM

Jim,

Thanks for sharing this ... very cool. Makes me wonder how much of "today's" stuff will be researched and searched for and found by those living 50, 75, 100 years from now....



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#10 Steve_Colby

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 10:21 AM

Nice article and photos Jim. It's convenient to have a starter's shed at the outset of the trip.

~Steve




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