Concrete Road Work Has Been Successful
ATTORNEYFRANK P. MOATS
GIVESIMPRESS OF DIF-
INCITY ON OLD “CHARLES.[sic]
INSELECTION OF CONCRETE FOR WORK
“From myexperiences and observations in the past I am firmly convinced that concrete isthe road building material for the future,” Frank P Moats, attorney and formerspeaker of the house of delegates, said yesterday in discussing the road problemsof the state. He continued, “It is true,however, that where it is built in sections where sand and gravel or othernecessary ingredients are inconvenient, it may have its limitations by reasonof its cost.” In the interview, Mr. Moatsrecalled many impressions of roads during the last half century in the countyand through the east. Mr. Moats said:
“I am not aroad engineer and have had but little practical experience in the building ofroads, yet I cannot remember when the subject did not interest me. When I was six years old I began attendingschool two miles distant, the route to which was over red clay countryroads. After nearly half a century theimpressions thus gained are still fresh in my memory. While still a small boy my father built bycontract about a mile and one-half of new road in which I assisted as much as Icould. It was at about this period thatmy father and ‘us boys’ macadamized a short portion of the public road near ourhome, which was particularly bad during the winters and springs.
“With theloose stone gathered from the adjoining fields we covered this portion abouteighteen inches thick. But during thesucceeding winter and spring the stone sank into an oblivionof red clay, and the only visible remains were fringes along the edges. I closely observed all work in the nature ofrepairs and rebuilding of roads and while driving through the country I wouldenliven the lonely journey by observing the causes of imperfections and by planningcorrections.
“Before Iwas twenty years of age I came to ‘town,’ which was just about the time thefirst street paving was being constructed. I saw soft building brick laid on a board foundation, which was known asthe ‘Charleston’plan. I soon saw also this crumbleaway. Then I saw brick laid on afoundation of sand and I soon saw also the inequalities which resulted in thesurface. In 1903 I made a visit to Morgantown to witness theconstruction of an experimental mile of road, which was being built underfederal aid and supervision. This wasbuilt entirely of limestone and consisted of three layers, and was crushed,rolled and sprinkled until the surface was as smooth as concrete and had muchthe same appearance. This mile cost$30,000. I was over this mile ofexperimental road in the following years of 1904, while stumping for Dawson andTax Reform. The only part of theimprovement so expensively constructed that remained visible were fringes ofcrushed limestone along the edges. Thishad failed just as our home-made macadam had failed.
Advent of Automobiles
“And then came the automobile. My interest in roads was stimulated in 1906 when I built my home aboutfive miles out of town on a sand road, in an adjoining magisterialdistrict. I assisted to the extent of myability in the movement which resulted in Parkersburgdistrict authorizing its bonds in the sum of $180,000 for the building ofpermanent roads in 1901. These districtroads were let to contract at a cost of about $20,000 per mile and were builtof brick on a concrete base. But theroads thus built did not extend into the district in which I live and we beganthe education for a bond issue in our district for the purpose of extending theroad. This resulted in the district,Williams, issuing bonds in the sum of $90,000 for the extension of the roadfrom Parkersburg to Marietta.
“Thegreatest problem with which we had to contend was the material of which theroad should be constructed. Gravel andsand were not to be thought of. The costof brick was so great that the small sum of money available would pave but ashort distance. After carefullyinvestigating the subject the committee which had this matter in charge and ofwhich I was a member, determined on concrete as being the proper material. At this time, 1913, there were no concreteroads in the state in so far as we had any knowledge. We encountered great opposition in thisselection from the local authorities and a great deal of influence was broughtto bear to have us change our selection. Our committee stood firm, however, and as it was our money that wasbeing spent we had the decision.
Road Speaks for itself
“With this$90,000 we built in 1914 and 1915 almost nine miles of concrete road, and theroad is there today to speak for itself. There are imperfections in it but in every instance they can beaccounted for. They were built by peoplewho had never seen a concrete road before. The material then was not standardized as it now is, neither did theyhave the equipment necessary to give the best results. In addition to this some fills were notpermitted to settle sufficiently before the concrete was laid and the subjectof drainage was not then comprehended as it has been since. Notwithstanding the fact that portions of thisroad have been subjected to a heavy traffic yet the surface is practicallyunbroken. Thousands of yards of sand andgravel and other heavy material carried on steel tires have been transportedover this road and the greater part of it has been in use for eight years, yetthe marks of the finishing trowel can still be seen on the surface. The wear has been practically nothing. Practically the only cost of maintenance hasbeen to maintain the berms, keep the ditches open andmake minor repairs on account of settling.
“Afterbeing under observation and the hardest kind of usage for eight years there isbut little to indicate that the road will need to be renewed for generationsyet to come. Within the last three yearsit has been my pleasure to drive by automobile over a large section of theeastern part of the UnitedStates. The roads over which I have driven have never ceased to be a subject ofvital interest and they have been of every type and material. The oiled macadam roads of NewYork and Pennsylvania and New Jersey are a finetype of roads, but the cost of their maintenance is prohibitive.
Brick Road Least Prohibitive
“This ismade evident by the mountains of empty tar barrels and heaps of limestone alongthe roadsides and the gangs of men and the cost of equipment everywhereapparent. The brick roads when properlyconstructed are of a much higher type than the macadam, but the cost isprohibitive. But in all these journeyings the driver of the car always relaxed and gave asigh of relief when the concrete was struck. On the other hand he would straighten up and become tense when theconcrete end was in sight.
“In drivingover the country aggregating in all nearly ten thousand miles, certain roadsstand out in bold relief as approaching perfection in road building. Without exception these roads are made ofconcrete. I recall particularly thatlong stretch of concrete on what is known as the Million Dollar Highway leadingeast from Buffalo; the road from Gettysburg to Baltimore; from Yorktown toNewport News; from Norfolk to Virginia Beach and certain sections of theNational Road and the Lincoln Highway.
“From theseexperiences and observations I am firmly convinced that concrete is the roadbuilding material for the future. It istrue that where it is built in sections where sand and gravel or othernecessary ingredients are inconvenient, it may have its limitations by reasonof its cost. In addition to this thenature of the soil in some sections may permit the construction of a good roadwith less expense of other material. Butin all sections where clay or other soft soil is encountered the use ofconcrete is indicattd [sic] in my opinion, regardlessof its cost. Its first cost ispractically the only cost and if properly constructed there is nothing in ourpresent experience to indicate how long they will last.[”]
[Retrieved and transcribedfrom the April 9, 1922, issue of TheParkersburg News, Parkersburg,West Virginia, by Nanci Headley Kotowski.]
- Frank P. Moats, an attorney, was the s/o BenjaminMoats and Isabel Pierpoint.
- Benjamin Moats was born in and resided in RitchieCo., West Virginia. He was the son of Jacob Moats. Isabel Pierpointwas the daughter of Z. M. Pierpoint of RitchieCo., West Virginia. Children of Benjamin and Isabel (Pierpoint) Moats included Frank P., Homer, Emery,Minnie, Lollie, and Jennie.
- These notes were taken from the death notice ofBenjamin Moats that appeared in the September 4, 1904 issue of Daily State Journal, Parkersburg, WestVirginia.