Fortunately, we are not the pothole capital of the state but with the heavy amount of truck traffic we see in Black Diamond, we do have our challenges. Fortunately, we live in a region with generally mild weather, without extreme temperatures and limited freeze/thaw problems. Making the switch, however, from dirt roads geared to horse drawn wagons and bikes, to roads capable of handling autos and trucks has not always been a smooth one (no pun intended). Earlier, I posted a photo of the concrete road built to provide access to Mt. Rainier National Park (see Roads - Then & Now). Concrete clearly had it's problems but so to did the alternatives, including the modified "bitulithic" material known as Warrenite.
The following photos taken in 1912 show reconstruction of the Bothell Road. Billed as the "second coming" in road construction material technology, Warrenite turned into to one of those "oops" moments. Following is a photo of the road just a few months following completion of initial construction.
Photo courtesy of University of Washington Libraries, IND0590, Webster & Stevens photographers, circa 1912
The photo shows where practically the entire surface had clung to passing autos and wagon wheels, leaving a disintegrated mass of stones strewn to the side of the road. The piles of sand were on hand to spread across the surface and hopefully extend the surface life, what little of it there was left. And that was not all.
Photo courtesy University of Washington Libraries, IND0588, Webster & Stevens photographers, circa 1912
On a modestly warm day, walking across the road was impossible as the gentleman in the picture above can attest while he attempts to remove all the sticky goo that clung to his shoes. The equipment used to make Warrenite looked first class for the time.
Photo courtesy University of Washington Libraries, IND0402, Webster & Stevens photographer, circa 1912
The above contraption is identified as being the "portable" model for making Warrenite. It even had it's own donkey engine to provide power and heating, and a team of horses to spread the goo on the roads surface. Needless to say, the surface had to be completely replaced which meant digging up the whole road including foundation and reapplying it all at a cost of $17,000 per mile. Pretty steep price at the time for a road that didn't last long even after the second application.
Photo courtesy University of Washington Libraries, IND0587, Webster & Stevens photographers, circa 1912
Now is the season of road construction in Washington. I sure hope that we are getting our money's worth.