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The Basics of Asphalt: History II

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Last Updated on February 28, 2024

Today we’re continuing a series that started with an article posted a few weeks ago based on The Basics of Asphalt. We have been covering different aspects and properties of asphalt, from its economic factors to its engineering components. Today we’ll continue discussing some historical facts concerning the emergence of asphalt. Last week we overviewed asphalt’s ancient history from Babylon to New World Explorers and will now move on to consider the development of early roads so we can see how asphalt was eventually integrated into road and pavement design.

Early Roads

The Basics of Asphalt: History II
John Metcalf was the first professional road builder.

Before asphalt was used in paving roads, good methods of road building needed to be developed. One such contributor was Englishman John Metcalf, the first professional road builder to manifest during the Industrial Revolution, who in the early 1700s built 180 miles of Yorkshire road. Metcalf understood the importance of good drainage and used a foundation of large stones, then to raise the roadbed covered it with excavated road material. Lastly, his roads were finished with a layer of gravel.

Thomas Telford made substantial contributions to road building as a civil engineer and between 1803-1821 built over 900 miles of road in Scotland. He perfected the method of using broken stones for roads and using systems to account for the weight and traffic they would need to support.

The Basics of Asphalt: History II
John McAdams developed tarmac.

John Loudon McAdam was Telford contemporary and the Scottish engineer’s most significant contribution was introducing the use of hot tar to bind road’s large surface stones. This was done originally to reduce dust and maintenance and earned the name “tarmacadam” pavements.  His name is still partially used when we describe tarmac. He also invented a new process for building roads with smooth hard surfaces that led to better durability and less muddiness.  He did this using controlled materials of mixed particle size and a predetermined structure.

It would take only a few more decades for asphalt to be integrated into early road design.  Next week we’ll continue this mini-history series and discuss how bituminous mixtures began to be used for sidewalks, crosswalks, and even roads beginning in the late 1860s as well as changing techniques in production and construction.

Improvements in Asphalt Today

We hope you’ve learned something new regarding the history of early roads. History showcases how things are constantly improved and advanced. We do our best to continue that legacy and strive to perfect the use of asphalt, especially when it comes to serving you and your project needs. We are always working to create a better and more cost-effective option for you and are here for ANY and ALL of your asphalt or pavement questions and needs.

Call us today or Click Here for a Free Quote on your asphalt paving needs.

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Mike Phillips
Mike Phillips
January 17, 2023.
Great company to work with. We contacted Top Job to repair a county road that we dug across for an irrigation line. They were very professional yet friendly. Our job was completed quickly. We recommend this company.
Sam Rowley
Sam Rowley
December 8, 2022.
I’m not sure how the service actually is, but some old guy in a Top Job Toyota was riding my butt today and flipped me off, or it was maybe an aggressive wave at the red light near the Logan library. Hope his day gets better. 12/8 at 230
Kim Rappleye
Kim Rappleye
December 7, 2022.
Very professional and personalized service. Highly recommended!
Mark Malmstrom
Mark Malmstrom
November 22, 2022.
They were easy to get a hold of and showed up when they were scheduled. Good communication and good work.
David Bunnell
David Bunnell
November 4, 2022.
I appreciated the pleasant attitude when talking w/the estimator as well as the scheduler. The work crew did a great job! I highly recommend Top Job Asphalt!
Steven Jacobsen
Steven Jacobsen
October 30, 2022.
Top job Asphalt did an amazing job on my project very professional, I would definitely use them again when I have the need.
Chris Salvesen
Chris Salvesen
October 28, 2022.
Did a great job on the 3" overlay for my very old and deteriorated half circle driveway. Looks brand new. All the transitions to concrete are near perfectly matched when I wasn't sure they could do it. It's almost weird now not feeling the bump driving out of the garage or over our bridge.
Matt Welch
Matt Welch
October 27, 2022.
Top Job paved our asphalt driveways and we couldn't be happier. The service, quality and price were the best I could find and I looked everywhere! Great job guys! I'll be calling back when I start my next project.
Todd Wardrop
Todd Wardrop
October 26, 2022.
I'm so impressed!!😀 Top Job has done such excellent work on my neighbor's driveway ... I'm so jealous. It's absolutely beautiful, and I can't believe how smooth it turned out. It's just perfect. What a great company!

What Our Customers Are Saying

Very impressed with the quality of their work and the organization of the company. The project estimator was spot on as to when the bid would be received and the work was professional  from start to finish. I appreciated the opportunity for a walkthrough inspection after the crack filling was completed as I had some very large cracks in the asphalt. I give this company a ten out of ten (which I really do) and highly recommend them.

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