Photo Archivist's Selection of the Month: September 2002
Public Works Department 1914
Building Roads with the Rock Crusher
A recent unrelated
search through the “Stamford Government” section
of the photo collection revealed interesting photos of the famous rock crusher,
which the town purchased in 1909 to build roads. These photos were obviously
made between 1909 and 1914, though we don't have the exact dates. These photos were referenced to a The
Guide to Nature magazine article of August 1914, the text of which is
Names below have been highlighted by the editor of the article. Some of the images
below were also part of that article, but we choose to use our actual photos.
Stone Walls into Roads.
go from the city into the wild nature of the suburbs and surrounding
country the first essential is a good road. Stamford is solving the problem
of making good roads economically by grinding up the stone walls. It
not be known to all residents of Stamford just how extensively and economically
this work is being carried on, and certainly it will be of interest to
readers in other places to learn of the successful experiment of turning
stone walls into roads.
Everywhere in New England there
are plenty of stone walls but in many places there are not good
roads. So, as the old-fashioned saying goes, why not
let one hand wash the other; that is grind up a few of the stone
improve some of the roads? Far be it from us to advocate banishing
all the picturesque stone walls, but there is no danger of doing
stone walls go a long way in making enduring roads.
is proud of its roads, but, of course that does not mean that all roads have
put in the most desirable condition. The work progresses
every year and in the light of what has already been done the outlook
the future is favorable. The credit for this is in large part due to Selectman
William R. Michaels for his untiring efforts in application
of his knowledge of making an enduring road at least cost.
In the fall
of 1909, on the recommendation of the Board of Selectmen composed
of J. G. Houghton, William R. Michaels and J. J. Looney,
the town, represented by Mr. Michaels, purchased a portable stone
crusher from the Climax Road Machine Company,
for $2,011. I t is less than five years since the crusher was started
on the Emmet L. Weed property in Springdale, Mr.
Weed being the first townsman to donate stone for road construction.
During these five
years eight miles of durable stone roads have been built under Mr. Michael's
supervision. Less than $500 have been paid for re pairs on these
and most of this expense was incurred on Hope Street in the necessary
repairs after the laying of gas and water pipes. Hope Street, from
to the Glenbrook trolley junction, and Crescent Street and Courtland
Avenue, Glenbrook, Newfield Avenue, Belltown Road and Oaklawn Road
are among the
Stamford roads constructed of native stone. Among those who have donated
stone for these permanent roads are Messrs. Weed, Mathews, Toms, Raymond, Rothchild, Coe, Kerr and Robbins and Dr. Barnes,
the latter being the largest contributor so far having to his credit
many thousand tons from stone fences on his
property. continued below
Note: Most if not all images in this column
are taken at Poor Farm on Scofieldtown Road
below—and two details of it—shows the laying of rocks and is also
labelled to have been taken at Poor
Farm on Scofieldtown Road, but this may not be correct.
The Oaklawn Road, the cross road not long since completed near the city
limits, connects Newfield Avenue with North Stamford state road and is about
one mile long. It is built with a traveled path sixteen feet in width and
the ground stone was spread from twelve to eighteen inches in depth. All
the stone from the Dr. Barnes property, together with tons blasted in the
fields near the stone crusher, has been utilized in making this one of the
most durable stone roads in the town of Stamford, so good a one in fact
that the present Board of Selectmen are much pleased with the success in
making Oaklawn a permanent road. With the completion of this and Belltown
Road, Hope Street, Glenbrook, is now connected with practically a continuous
crossroad near the city line that can be used with safety the year around
whereas during the winter and spring before any work was done on this road
as many as seventeen auto trucks were mired.
The Belltown Road has a traveled path twenty feet in width, with an average
depth of ground stone of sixteen inches, and it is safe to say that for
durability it will favorably compare with any macadam road in the town of
Stamford. The length of this road is about two-thirds of a mile, and to
put it in its present good condition required nearly three thousand tons
of stone all of which was taken from the Barnes tract. So appreciative of
this road are the residents of Belltown that after its completion they built
at their own expense a waiting station near the trolley track.
Waiting Station at Toms Road & Hope Street
The Newfield Road, much used
by automobiles, was a problem on account of its wet condition. More than
one mile was dug up in order to provide sufficient
depth for an underdrainage of stone on which ground stone more than one
foot in depth was spread in order to prevent heaving or buckling. Good
is an important factor in the construction of a. road and if in the rebuilding
of the Newfield Road such provision had not been made it would have heaved
and rutted badly. Newfield Avenue is noted for its fine view of Long
Sound while riding over it in a southerly direction.
| Belltown Road
|| Newfield Avenue
Notwithstanding the fact that the town has not a full equipment of road
building machinery, the eight miles of native stone roads have been constructed
at an average cost of $4,200 per mile, this amount including the price of
the stone crusher Since the annual town meeting of the year 1910, $5,000
have been appropriated for permanent stone roads and from $2,000, to $2,500
annually for the maintenance of the stone crusher. The 'above price per
mile also includes the installing of drain pipe, the widening and rebuilding
of stone bridges and the blasting of unsightly stone near the gutter line.
Mr. Michaels is a man familiar
with the road conditions at all seasons of the year, and thereby eminently
fitted for his task. He has made it a
rule to engage stone in advance from property owners nearest the section
of road needing improvement, thereby saving expense of hauling from
After the Selectmen approve the Michaelizing [sic] of the road,
work starts in proper season under Foreman Samuel Ferris,
a thoroughly reliable and practical man and a road builder from boyhood.
The engineer and other employees are worthy of commendation. That the town
of Stamford can boast of its durable roads built of native stone at a
cost is due to the cooperation of property owners with this force of practical
Editor's Note: It did not always work perfectly of course. There were
drawbacks. The images below were taken after a washout on Farms Road. William R. Michaels (to the left) and John Moore, brother of Mayor Charles E. Moore, 1938-40, viewing a washout on Farms Road.
Photos © Stamford Historical Society
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