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Plank road

A plank road or puncheon is a dirt path or road covered with a series of planks, similar to the wooden sidewalks one would see in a Western movie. Plank roads were wildly popular in Ontario, the U.S. Northeast and U.S. Midwest in the first half of the 19th century. They were often built by turnpike companies.

Wood mat road in British Columbia, used for temporary access over soft ground

Contents

Plank road boom

In the late 1840s plank roads inspired an investment boom (and bust). The very first plank road was in North Syracuse, New York in order to transport salt and other goods.[1][2] The plank road boom was like many early technologies, in that promised to transform the way people lived and worked, permissive changes in legislation seeking to spur development, lots of investment by regular people, etc. Ultimately the technology failed to live up to its reputation and millions of dollars in investments evaporated almost overnight.

Three plank roads, the Hackensack, the Paterson and the Newark were major arteries in northern New Jersey, which connected the Hudson River waterfront to the cities after which they are named on the other side of the Hackensack Meadows.

The plank road on one of the Pribilof Islands, Alaska.

Plank roads in Australia

In Perth, Western Australia, plank roads were important in the early growth of the agricultural and outer urban areas, given the distances imposed by swamps and relatively infertile soil. As it cost UK£2,000 per kilometre to construct roads by conventional means, the local councils (known as road boards) were experimenting with cheaper approaches to road building. A method called Jandakot Corduroy had been developed at Jandakot south-east of Perth, where a jarrah tramway laid upon 2.3 m-long sleepers, bounded by two 70 cm-wide strips of jarrah planks for cart and carriage wheels. The 90 cm gap was filled with limestone rubble to be used by horses. This reduced the cost of road building by up to 85% after their widespread introduction in 1908.[3] However, increased traffic and suburban development rendered these routes unsatisfactory over time and by the 1950s they had been replaced with bitumen surfaced roads.

An isolated village in rural southwest Alaska.

See also

References

  1. ^ University of California Transportation Center. "The Plank Road Boom of Antebellum, New York". http://66.249.93.104/search?q=cache:5v0399IMvv0J:www.uctc.net/scripts/countdown.pl%3F267.pdf. Retrieved 2006-04-25.  
  2. ^ Klein & Majewski. "Turnpikes and Toll Roads in Nineteenth Century America". http://www.eh.net/encyclopedia/article/Klein.Majewski.Turnpikes. Retrieved 2006-04-25.  
  3. ^ Cooper, W.S.; G. McDonald (1999). Diversity's Challenge: A History of the City of Stirling. City of Stirling. pp. 169.  

External links

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