Our Experience in Road Drainage

Date Published: 
September, 1895
Original Author: 
J. C. Cline
Original Publication: 
AACS Proceedings of the 9th Annual Convention

When notified last winter by our worthy Secretary that I was on the list to prepare a paper for our next annual meeting at Richmond, VA, my first impulse was to decline for the reason that nearly, if not all questions pertaining to cemeteries and their improvements have been fully dealt with at previous meetings by papers from our ablest and best qualified members.

After some reflection, I came to the conclusion that perhaps a recital of some successful work done in Woodland might be the means of bringing out criticisms that would lead to suggestions for still better improvements for road drainage.

Good road drainage is one of the most important factors in a well-kept cemetery therefore we will give our experience in that line.

Woodland is a rolling and hilly piece of land and as most of the roads are built in the ravines and lowest parts, necessarily the surface drainage is altogether toward the roadways.

One avenue, the main one, traverses a deep valley, the hills on either side of which rise to the height of from 50 to 150 feet, with a drainage surface of about 35 acres.

Previous to 1889 all the avenues were protected with cobble-stone gutters on each side. These gutters gave us a great deal of trouble and annoyance, for during every heavy rain storm they got choked up with brush and leaves, (Woodland being natural woods) causing them to overflow and tearing them into ruts and gullies.

In looking tor a remedy for this trouble, we found it in Spring Grove, where the first underground road sewers for cemeteries were made.

Our main sewers are 15 inches in diameter, built on each side of the roadway, passing directly through the catch basins which are from 40 to 60 feet apart.

No silt or other obstruction has a chance to stop or choke up these basins.

These sewers unite, passing out of the grounds at our main entrance and are there connected with the City sewers.

Our sewers have a fall of from one to six feet in one-hundred feet on our main avenue.

The rest of our sewers have 8 inch mains on each side of roadways connected with 6 inch laterals from catch basins. These laterals are from one to four feet in length and we have endeavored to give them not less than four inches fall to the main pipe.

Our sewers are laid in trenches three feet deep, and where we encountered clay, we filled in with gravel so the trench acts as underground drainage at the same time.

The catch basins are built along the edge of the roads at intervals of from 40 to 60 feet, depending upon the natural drainage of the soil and the amount of surface drained. They are of brick laid in cement with sand stone tops and mouth pieces, 22 inches square inside and 6 inches deeper than the bottom of the discharge pipe leading into the main.

The openings into them are oblong, 6 inches wide and 20 inches long. They are easily gotten at to clean in case the catch basin becomes filled with sand or other obstructions.

The fronts or mouths of the basins are even with the edge of the grass margin of the roadways. Some object to this manner, believing that they are too conspicuous, which is a mistake as they are seen only when opposite to them on the road.

The pipes used for drains here are the best quality, vitrified, fire-clay pipe. In laying them, great care has been taken to make the joints perfectly tight by cementing them.

Our experience has taught us that with loose joints on steep grades the water soon forms a channel on the outside of the pipe, causing no end of trouble, by eventually allowing the joints to become misplaced.

We have tried the grate openings but they are very unsatisfactory, as we have so many leaves to contend with, which choke the gutters at every rain.

During the past summer we have put in nearly a mile of sewer, taking up gutters along some of the old roadways.

These gutters were very deep, causing the crown of the roads to be high and narrow, so that in winter when the roads were icy, it was very difficult and dangerous for vehicles to pass each other.

Since sewering them, we have a flat, broad roadway which greatly improves the appearance of our grounds and makes the roads more easily kept in repair.

So successful has the sewerage proved with us, that our management will not build any roads without them and will abolish all the gutters already made as quickly as possible.

From the publication:
AACS - Proceedings of the 9th Annual Convention
Richmond, VA
September 18, 19 and 20, 1895