Samuel Washington McCallie.

A preliminary report on the roads and road-building materials of Georgia online

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W. S. YEATBS. State Qeoloslst









Assistant Geologist


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Letter of Transmittal 7

History of Road Construction 9

The Value of Good Roads 23

Road Construction ^^

Location of Roads 33

Road Surfaces 43

Maintenance and Repair of Roads 59

Road Materials 66

Tools and Machines Used in Highway Construction . 78
The Topography of Georgia in Its Relation to the

Highways 92

The Road Building Materials of Georgia 98

Road Materials of the Paleozoic Area 98

Road Building Materials of the Crystalline Belt . . 104

Road Building Materials of the Tertiary Area . . . 109
The Roads of Georgia, with a Brief Description of
THE Equipment, Methods of Road-working, and

Materials, by Counties iii

Acknowledgments 259

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of the
Geological Survey of Georgia


His Excellency, A. D. CANDLER, Governor of Georgia

President of the Board

Hon. O. B. STEVENS . . . Commissioner of Agriculture
Hon. G. R. GLENN . . . Commissioner of Public Schools

Hon. R. E. PARK State Treasurer

Hon. W. a. WRIGHT Comptroller-General

Hon. PHILIP COOK Secretary of State

Hon. J. M. TERRELL Attorney-General

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Geological Survey of Georgia,

Atlanta, Feb. ist, 1901.

To His Excellency^ A. D. Candler, Governor and President of
the Advisory Board of the Geological Survey of Georgia^
Sir : — I have the honor to transmit herewith the report of
Mr. S. W. McCallie, Assistant Geologist, on the Roads and Road-
Building Materials of Georgia. This report, which has been
ready for the printer, since the fall of 1899, has not been sent to
the press, because of lack of funds, with which to publish it, a
condition recently relieved by the Legislature in session assembled.
While it is confidently expected, that the report will have great
value in encouraging the building of good roads over the State, a
thing that would contribute so largely to the wealth of our people ;
still also it will show to desirable prospective immigrants and
others decided advantages in the greatly improved condition of the
roads in many parts of the State, especially those sections, con-
tiguous to our principal cities.

Many improvements have been inaugurated since the prepara-
tion of this report, which I would, that we were able to include
herein ; but it would require such extensive work to bring the re-
port to date, that I do not feel justified in withholding it longer
from the press.

Very respectfully yours,

W. S. Yeates,

State Geologist.


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. The evolution of road construction in all countries progresses
along certain definite lines, and is very intimately connected with
the various stages of civilization. The road of the primitive man,
before the use of beasts of burden, was an imperfectly marked
pathway through the forest, similar to the trails of gregarious ani-
mals. His bridges and causeways were fallen trees or driftwood,
nature's own handiwork. As civilization progressed, the more
docile animals of the plain and the forest were tamed, and many of
them became beasts of burden. This necessitated an improvement
in the roadways. The former trails were consequently widened,
the more precipitous hills were avoided, and the stones and fallen
trees were removed from the pathways. The beast of burden
either forded or swam the streams, while his master ferried the
freight across on rudely constructed rafts. This stage of road de-
velopment and method of transportation is now chiefly confined to
barbaric and half-civilized nations. Nevertheless, it is also met
with in civilized countries, especially in newly settled districts or
mountainous regions. Prof. N. S. Shaler, in speaking of this
method of transportation, in his excellent book on American
Highways, says : * "More than half of the world is still in this
* pack-train ' state".

American Highways, by X. S. Shaler ; page a.


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Following this stage of devolopment, and brought about mainly
by the introduction of wheeled vehicles, the roadways were broad-
ened, the grades were lessened, and the morasses and quagmires
were made passable, by the use of broken stones or other unyield-
ing materials. The change from the imperfect foot-paths to the
admirable highways of our modern civilization was a gradual, but,
at the same time, a natural growth, resulting from the accumulated
knowledge of various nations, extending through many centuries.

Rome was the first nation, to attain an advanced stage in high-
way construction. Many of these excellent Roman roads, such as
the Appian Way, were in use, more than three centuries before
the beginning of the Christian era. During the prosperous days
of the Empire, twenty-nine military roads are said to have radiated
from the Imperial City. The total length of these several roads,
together with their various branches, aggregated more than 5o,cxx>
miles. They were built and maintained at great expense by the
general government, primarily, to facilitate the rapid movement of
troops from place to place in time of war ; and, secondarily, to
make trade possible between the various divisions of the Empire.
In laying out the national highways, the Roman engineers disre-
garded grades, and constructed their roads along straight lines, re-
gardless of obstacles. Hills and valleys were, consequently,
frequently crossed at great expense, rather than deviate from a
direct line to the objective point.

The Roman roadbeds were massive works of masonry, from
eight to sixteen feet in width, three or more feet in thickness, and
costing probably, on an average, $5o,cx)0 per mile. Austin T.
Byrne, in his treatise on Highway Construction, gives the follow-
ing plan adopted by the Romans, in the construction of these na-
tional highways: —

'* A trench was excavated the entire length and width of the
roadway ; in this trench, the road materials were placed, arranged
in four layers,' having a total thickness of about three feet: (i)
the stratumen consisting of two courses of large flat stones laid in

See Fi|C. i.

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lime-mortar ; (2) the rudus^ composed of broken stones mixed with
one third their quantity of lime, and well consolidated by ram-
ming ; (3) the nucheus^ a mixture of broken brick, potsherds, tiles
and lime ; (4) the summa crusta^ a pavement of irregularly shaped
stones about six inches thick, closely jointed, and fitted with the
utmost nicety".

In time, these several layers became compact, and formed a solid
mass, almost as durable as rock itself. Remains of these high-
ways, constructed nearly 2,000 years ago, are still to be seen in
Italy and other countries, where they frequently form the founda-

Fig. I

Cross-section of Roman Stone Pavement (after Byrne) .

tion for modern roadways. In a few instances, they are said to
form even the surface of roads now in use.

As the Romans extended their dominion into other countries,
by conquests, they, at the same time, introduced their system of
road-construction, which thereby made free communication be-
tween the distant points of the Empire possible. Spain, France,
Egypt and also Great Britain, early in the Christian era, were tra-
versed by great Roman thoroughfares. These gigantic national
highways, kept up at enormous expense, either by the general or
the municipal government, were mostly abandoned after the fall of
the Roman Empire. They were looked upon by some of the less
enlightened races as means of facilitating invasions by foreign
armies ; and, for that reason, they were, in many cases, either de-
stroyed or allowed to go into disuse.

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12 historV of road construction

Some writers have given to the ancient Egyptians the credit
of reaching an advanced stage in highway-construction, at a very
early date. It has been pointed out, with a considerable degree of
plausibility, that the huge stones, used in the erection of the pyra-
mids, could have been transported only over specially prepared,
unyielding roadways. The character and the extent of these roads,
however, if they actually existed, are not known.

The Incas in ancient Peru also constructed extensive roadways
at a very early period. Prescott, the historian, in speaking of these
roadways, says: —

'' Galleries were cut for leagues through living rock ; rivers
were crossed by means of bridges, that swung suspended in the
air ; precipices were scaled by stairways hewn out of the native
bed ; ravines of hideous depth were filled up with solid masonry ;
in short, all the difficulties that beset a wild and mountainous re-
gion, and which might appal the most courageous engineer of
modern times, were encountered and successfully overcome. The
length of the road, of which scattered fragments only remain, is
variously estimated at from 1,500 to 2,000 miles. Its breadth
scarcely exceeded 20 feet. It was built of heavy flags of freestone,
and in some parts, at least, was covered with a bituminous cement,
which time has made harder than stone itself".

Humboldt and DeLeon also give wonderful accounts of the
royal Peruvian roads ; but some of the modern travelers have not
been so fortunate in locating their remains.

After the impulse, which had been given to the betterment of
roads in Europe by the Romans, had died away with the decline
of that Empire, but little attention seems to have been paid to this
class of internal improvement, until the latter part of the i8th
Century. It was during this period, that France, mainly under
the influence of Napoleon, made great improvements in her high-
ways, by introducing a modern system of road-building. This new
plan of road-construction, which was introduced by Tresaguet, a
French engineer, in 1764, greatly reduced the cost of road-making,
as compared with the method adopted by the Roman engineers.

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The principal difference in the change thus brought about con-
sisted in diminishing the number of layers constituting the road-
bed,^ and a corresponding reduction in the total thickness of the
material used. Tresaguet's method of construction consisted in the
use of only two layers of stones. The lower layer or foundation
was made of heavy stones forming a pavement several inches in
thickness. Upon this solid foundation, was placed a layer of small
broken stones, which constituted the surface of the roadway.
There was a marked similarity between the Tresaguet and the
Telford road, the chief distinction being the lack of a crown in the
foundation of the latter.

Fig- 2

Cross-section of Tresaguet Road (after Byrne).

The great impetus in road improvement, begun in France, soon
extended into Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland and other
European countries. The highways of Great Britain were in
a deplorable condition, as late as the latter part of the 17th Cen-
tury. Macaulay, the historian, in speaking of the method of
transportation in England during this period, says : ' "It was
only in fine weather, that the whole breadth of the roads was
available for vehicles. Often the mud lay deep, on the right and
on the left ; and only a narrow track of firm ground rose above
the quagmire. At such times, obstructions and quarrels were fre-
quent, and the path was sometimes blocked up during a long time
by carriers, neither of whom would break the way. It happened
almost every day, that coaches stuck fast, until a team of cattle
cojild be procured from some neighboring farm to tug them out of
the slough." The same author, in giving an account of a trip of

' See fig. 2. ' History of England, Vol. i, p. 392.

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a viceroy in 1685 into Ireland, says: '* Between Conway and
Beaumaris, he was forced to walk a great part of the way ; and his
lady was carried in a litter. His coach was, with great difficulty
and by the help of many hands, brought after him entire. In
general, carriages were taken to pieces at Conway, and borne on
the shoulders of stout Welch peasants to the Menai Strait''. This
wretched state of the highways is accounted for, in a great meas-
ure, by the government's placing the entire burden of road main-
tenance upon the few inhabitants living along the thoroughfares
between the cities and towns.

Shortly after the restoration of Charles II, the clamor against
the unjust road burden became so violent among the country-
Fig. 3

Cross-section of Telford Road (after Byrne).

people, that an Act was passed by Parliament, allowing toll-gates
to be erected upon certain thoroughfares, in order to collect money
for the purpose of keeping these roads in a passable condition.
The act, for several years, met with bitter opposition. However,
it had great influence in the improvement of the highways, and
was the beginning of a movement, which finally culminated
during the following century in an excellent system of turnpikes.
The English engineers followed the plan of road-constructing,
adopted by Tresaguet, until 1820, when Thomas Telford, an emi-
nent Scotch engineer, introduced a new system, since called the
Telford method, from the name of its inventor. The Telford
plan of construction, * as previously stated, difltered but slightly
from the Tresaguet method, both being a modified plan of the
Roman system. A short time prior to the above named date,

^ See fifiT. 3.

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John London Macadam, also a Scotch engineer, introduced the
present system of macadamized roads. Macadam's plan of road-
building* differed so widely from all known methods of highway
construction, that it was looked upon by the English engineers
with general disfavor, until its merits were practically demon-
strated in France by the construction of a number of important
highways, modeled after that plan. Macadam considered the
heavy stone foundation, used by Tresaguet and Telford, not only
a useless expenditure of money, but also really harmful to a first-
class roadway. His roadbeds -were accordingly made entirely of
small broken stones, none of which were over two inches in

Fig. 4

Cross-section of a Macadam Road (after Byrne) .

France, Switzerland, Germany, Italy and other European coun-
tries have each, in the last century, made remarkable improve-
ments in their highways. The imperfectly kept dirt roads have
been transformed, by means of liberal governmental or municipal
aid, into magnificently paved ways, the envy and delight of all
American travellers.

The improvement of highways in the United States dates
from the Colonial times. The advancement, however, dur-
ing this period, made but little progress. This was due, in
a great measure, to two causes, first, the demoralizing effect
of the wretched condition of the roads in the mother country ;
and second, the location of the settlements along the coast,

' See fifiT. 4.

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where transportation could be carried on more advaatageously by
means of boats. As the settlements extended into the interior,
roadways were opened up, connecting them with the coast. Many
of these ways were first laid out for military purposes ; but after-
wards they became highways of travel and traffic. They were
maintained and kept up, by exacting of the male inhabitants so
many days' labor each year, and occasionally, by hired labor, paid
for by special taxes collected for that purpose. No paved high-
ways were constructed in the United States, until several years
after the close of the Revolutionary War. Washington is said to
have been a strong advocate of the improvement of highways ;
and, during his public life, a number of measures were discussed
in Congress, with a view to furnishing federal aid, for the purpose
of building government roads. One of the most important out-
comes of these several discussions was the passage of an act in
1806 appropriating money to build a national road from the At-
lantic seaboard to the interior. This road, after much delay, was
ultimately completed from Cumberland, Maryland, westward,
through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Indiana, into
Illinois, at a total cost of many hundred thousand dollars. It
was four rods wide, thirty feet of which, in Maryland, Pennsyl-
vania and West Virginia, was macadamized with broken stone.
The road was kept up for some years by the general government ;
but it was finally turned over to the States, through which it

Ten years previous to the passage of the act mentioned above,
the first company in the United States was organized in Pennsyl-
vania, for the purpose of building a turnpike. The road con-
structed by this company extended from PhiFadelphia to Lan-
caster, a distance of seventy miles. The toll-road system, thus
introduced, became quite common in the New England, the
Middle and a few of the Southern States, in the early part of the
present century. A half dozen turnpikes are said, at one time,
to have radiated from Boston. They were numerous in New
York and Pennsylvania; and, at a later date, they were con-

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structed in portions of Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina and
Georgia. These roads were not always models of highway en-
gineering. Nevertheless, they were a great improvement over the
common roads, and served an excellent purpose in impressing upon
the people the value of good roadways.

Since the late war between the States, the turnpikes have gen-
erally passed into disfavor, and their charters have been revoked.
Special taxes are now raised, in the majority of the States, for
road purposes ; and many influences are being brought to bear,
for the improvement of public roads. Probably the greatest
stimulant in recent years, in the good-road movement, has been
the introduction of the bicycle.

The commencement of road-building in Georgia began with its
early colonization. The first roads in the State were laid out in
the vicinity of Savannah, under the direction of Oglethorpe.
These roadways were afterwards continued through the pine
forest to Ebenezer and Fort Argyle ; and, later, they were ex-
tended along the old Indian trails to the settlements further
southward. Probably the oldest road in Georgia, of any im-
portance or extent, is that from Savannah to Darien. This road
was surveyed in 1736 by Hugh Mackay, assisted by Augustine
and Tolme, and a number of Indian guides furnished by Chief

As far as the writer has been able to ascertain, no laws were en-
acted by the colonists, for laying out and maintaining highways,
until 1755. During this year, the General Assembly, in session
at Savannah, passed an act, the object of which is set forth in the
following preamble : — '

*' Whereas, it is absolutely necessary, that the Public Roads
should be made thro' the Province of Georgia for a speedy com-
munication to the most distant parts of it, and for the ease and
convenience of its inhabitants. We, therefore, humbly pray your
most Sacred Majesty, that it may be Enacted, and be it Enacted by
the Governor, Council and Assembly of the Province of Georgia,

Colonial Acta of Georgia, 1755-1774, p. 63,

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and by the Authority of the same, That the surveyors hereinafter
named and appointed shall be, and they are hereby impowered, to
layout such High Roads, Private Paths, Bridges, Creeks, Cause-
ways and Water Passages in this Province, and to establish such
ferrys, as they shall think proper, for the more direct and better
convenience of the Inhabitants of this Province''.

According to the act, the province was divided into nine dis-
tricts, in each of which were appointed six surveyors, whose duty

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Online LibrarySamuel Washington McCallieA preliminary report on the roads and road-building materials of Georgia → online text (page 1 of 22)