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Macadamized Roads

Macadam is an angular aggregate of stone used for paving without any binding medium to hold the stones together.  The macadamized road consisted of multiple layers of crushed stone: the largest stones at the bottom, then another layer of fist-sized stones, with a top layer of small stones. The job of breaking the stones was often given to prisoners.  The process was named for its inventor John Loudon McAdam, sometimes spelled MacAdam.  Between 1889 and 1900, five million copies of a booklet entitled “The Gospel of Good Roads: A Letter to the American Farmer” were distributed.  A macadamized road drained well and never turned to mud.  The top layer of small stones were compacted into a hard even surface by the steel wagon-wheel rims and steel shoes of the horses. A macadamized road incorporating a binder of tar was originally marketed as tar-macadam, but became known as Tarmac. The macadamized roads became popular with the farmer since it increased productivity and cut transportation costs. 

Pictured on the road is Buerbaum’s son Francis, (Fritz).  He often used his children in his photos.  This photo is undated, but was most likely taken around 1905. 

No. A2102 Published by Theodore Buerbaum Salisbury, N.C. Germany.


Roads, Highways and Ecosystems, John Stilgoe, Harvard University.

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