Paved Roads Come to Heilwood

Road crew working in The Barn area (circa 1929)

Paving the road in The Barn area-1929. The Barn is on the far right with the Coal Tipple and Sunnyside in the background.

Osgood steam shovel (from Marion, Ohio) used during early road paving work in Heilwood.

Osgood steam shovel (from Marion, Ohio) used during early road paving work in Heilwood.

Form-riding concrete finisher

Form-riding concrete finisher

Dry-batch paving machine

Dry-batch paving machine

Being a very rural area, Heilwood wasn’t linked to any surrounding towns via paved roads until well into the 1920s. The first two known paving contracts are from that era.

The first contract was a section of Route 480 completed by the Blue Ridge Construction Company of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, linking Heilwood with Penn Run. It was on this newly completed road that the Reverend Father Charles F. Black of the Catholic Church in Heilwood was killed on August 10, 1930. He was riding in an automobile driven by Joseph Best, Superintendent of the Blue Ridge Construction Company, when their car left the road surface while rounding a curve and overturned. The roadway had been open for just two weeks to traffic, and ‘shoulder’ work was yet to be completed. According to a published report, this may have contributed to the accident.

The second contract involved a stretch of road approximately five miles in length, extending from the railroad crossing south of Heilwood to near the Grisemore-Pineton intersection north of Mentcle. Russel Brothers of Youngstown, Ohio began the preliminary grading work on the 16,000 foot project on July 19, 1928. With 100 days allowed to complete the project, Russel Brothers actually worked 142 1/2 days. The roadway was opened to traffic on August 12, 1929, with the final inspection of the project on September 19, 1929 (see photos).

The bottom two photos show how the roadway was made, and detailed descriptions of these machines were provided by the Historical Construction Equipment Association of Bowling Green, Ohio:

The first photo shows a form-riding concrete finisher. The sides of the slab are shaped by steel forms; you can see one form on the side facing the camera, along with the pins that are driven into the ground to hold them in place. The finisher travels on top of the form in a way similar to a railraod car on steel rails, except the flanges that keep it on the forms are on the outside instead of the inside of the wheels. The finisher puts the final surface on the slab; a spreader moving ahead of it strikes off piles of concrete placed on the roadbed by the paver. After the conrete had set, the forms were removed.

This technology has been obsolete since the early 1960s; since that time, concrete pavement is laid mostly by slipforming, a technology by which the spreading and finishing functions are combined in one machine that travels on the ground and pulls the form along with it, and by which the concrete is of a stiffer composition than before so that it does not require forms to contain it as it sets.

The next photo shows the kind of paver mentioned above. Pre-proportioned batches of aggregates and cement were dumped by trucks into the skip at right. The skip was raised to discharge the dry materials into the mxiing drum, which is directly above and behind the man in the photo. After the concrete was mixed, it was discharged out the opposite end into a bucket that traveled on a swinging boom. The bucket and the base of the boom are visible in the photo; the man appears to be studying it. The operator directed the bucket to where the concrete was to be dumped, and opened the bucket by pulling on a rope. The bottom of the bucket opened, the concrete fell out, and the operator returned the bucket along the boom to receive another batch of concrete, which if all went well on the larger pavers would be ready to discharge into it. The dry batch paver was invented in 1919, and remained in use until the early 1960s as well; it was replaced by central mix batch plants that mix the conrete away from the worksite; trucks deliver the mixed concrete to the site.