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American Road Magazine
Celebrating our two-lane highways of yesteryear…And the joys of driving them today!

Slab Road In Eastern Il

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Hello again,


Just a quick little bit of info to share from Illinois...


While out driving today in the middle of nowhere, my wife and I ended up on an interesting old road. On the map, I thought it was just a normal chipseal "grid road" like all the others. When we turned on to it, it was actually a single-slab concrete road! It was in great condiiton, and the slab was only 10-12' wide.


It's labelled as N 1500 E road on the map. The only part that we drove was the 2-mile segment directly south of the pushpin on this map:



You can clearly see the slab on this street view image:



I just wanted to point it out to all of you road fans out there. I'm not positive it's pre-1920s, but it sure is made in the style of a road that would be. It would definitely be worth coming back to drive the whole thing...



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Someone who reads my blog lives in the Champaign area, which is a bit south of where you were. He once commented that there was a push in the 1920s to connect all the towns in that county with one-lane concrete slabs, but that as far as he knows the last of them were paved over in the 1970s. Maybe you came upon a similar road in that area. Maybe this was an eastern Illinois thing.


This fellow said that for some years, an asphalt lane was paired alongside the concrete lane -- but that everyone drove on the concrete regardless of the direction they traveled, and the wrong-way drivers moved onto the asphalt only when they encountered another car!



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I followed up a bit on Wes and and Jim's concrete examples, and found something of interest. Looking at the Biennial Report of the Michigan Highway Commissioner, Vol 9, page 9, they note the following:




This provides a latest date of 1921 for main roads built of concrete with no center joint...at least in Michigan. I think it is reasonable to say that the “science” of concrete road construction led to the use of center joints by the very early 1920's (1922). Therefore one could reasonably assert that a concrete road with no center joint probably predates 1922.


Michigan is unlikely to have in isolation “discovered” good practice. The art and science of road building was discussed and published widely in this period, and the methods to build enduring roads were very important to highway engineers and state highway departments. Thus these methods were adopted across the country at about the same time.


I feel more comfortable now asserting that concrete roads without a center joint precede the early 1920's, specifically they were probably constructed before 1922. It is nice to add this small tool to the road history “kit.”




Keep the Show on the Road!

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Cool find, Wes. I have friends and family in the Decatur/Clinton IL area. Small world.





Cort | 39.m.IL | pigValve + paceMaker + cowValve | 2 MCs + '79 & '89 Caprice Classics

CHD.cars + RoadTrips.hobbies.RadioShows.us66 = http://www.chevyasylum.com/cort

"There's a freeway runnin' through the yard" __ Tom Petty __ 'Free Fallin''

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