Topeka, Kansas in approx. 1894-6
If you thought Asphalt was a new industry, think again. The following article from the National Asphalt Pavement Association is not only informative but is interesting as well.
History of Asphalt
Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the beloved Little House on the Prairie, tells of her first encounter with an asphalt pavement. She was on a wagon journey with her parents in 1894 that took them through Topeka.
"In the very midst of the city, the ground was covered by some dark stuff that silenced all the wheels and muffled the sound of hoofs. It was like tar, but Papa was sure it was not tar, and it was something like rubber, but it could not be rubber because rubber cost too much. We saw ladies all in silks and carrying ruffled parasols, walking with their escorts across the street. Their heels dented the street, and while we watched, these dents slowly filled up and smoothed themselves out. It was as if that stuff were alive. It was like magic."
Today, this dark, resilient material covers more than 94 percent of the paved roads in the United States; it’s the popular choice for driveways, parking lots, airport runways, racetracks, tennis courts, and other applications where a smooth, durable driving surface is required. Called at various times asphalt pavement, blacktop, tarmac, macadam, plant mix, asphalt concrete, or bituminous concrete, asphalt pavements have played an important role in changing the landscape and the history of the U.S. since the late 19th century. But the story of asphalt begins thousands of years before the founding of the United States. Asphalt occurs naturally in both asphalt lakes and in rock asphalt (a mixture of sand, limestone, and asphalt).
The first recorded use of asphalt as a road building material was in Babylon around 615 BCE, in the reign of King Nabopolassar.
To read more of this article from the National Asphalt Pavement Association about the history of asphalt, click on the link below.