Durable and Artistic Walks and Drives

Date Published: 
September, 1919
Original Author: 
John Stanley Crandell
Original Publication: 
AACS Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Convention

Very few people realize the problems of road building and maintenance that the cemetery superintendent is called upon to solve. Traffic in a cemetery is different from that in any other location. It is usually thought that such traffic is light. It is not. It is infrequent, in that sense of light, but the loads that pass over the roads are heavy loads, monuments, shafts, and other materials of construction that tax the strength of the strongest road binders, and this traffic is certainly not light. Such a condition obtains nowhere else. And these roads that must sustain concentrated loads carried on steel tires must also be suited to the artistic surroundings of a cemetery. In addition the question of cost enters into the problem, more today than ever before, and the drives must be of such character that they can be economically built, and easily and cheaply maintained.

So, the question is, what kind of road is artistic, low in both first cost and in maintenance, and capable of carrying all the year round not only the usual funeral cortege, but also the extremely heavy trucks and their burdens of stone?

The war taught one thing in regard to highway construction that the world was glad to hear and that was that a well built macadam road will carry any load that can be hauled; that a well-built macadam will last if it is surface-treated with refined tar; and t ha t a tar bound macadam is a road capable of bearing any load, and at the same time dustless and mudless and enduring.

But not all cemeteries are wealthy enough to have tar-bound macadam, or, in fact, plain water-bound macadam. They may have gravel roads that are serving their purpose fairly well except for the fact that they wear excessively and are dusty. What can be done with these? Later on we shall see.

It goes without saying that drives paved with brick, stone block, sheet asphalt, asphalt block, wood block, or concrete would be incongruous in a cemetery. A visitor expects to see a road that resembles macadam, and the picture is spoiled if any other kind meets his eye. And although he wants macadam he does not want the dust and dirt that is ordinarily associated with a water-bound broken stone road. Like every other form of building, a road must be constructed of first class materials in a first class manner if first class results are expected. I will briefly set forth here the basic principles of road construction where tar macadam is the road to be built.

First of all be sure the location is right. Then see to it that the subsoil is well drained. Lead subsurface water away from the location and by means of suitable pipes ditches, or other means keep the water away from the road. Faulty drainage is responsible for more failures than any other cause. Next, select with care the stone that is to be used. Poor stone is poor economy; 90 percent of the road is stone, therefore choose wisely. A soft stone may be used for the base, but a medium to hard stone is essential for a good wearing course. A good grade of slag is an excellent road making material, but no vitrified slag should be allowed, as it cuts rubber tires badly, and never binds into the road.

While the binder that is incorporated into the road is only 10 percent or so of the wearing course, it is most important that only the best quality of refined tar be used, and that it be of the right consistency for the work. Only refined tar from a reliable manufacturer should be bought.

The sub-grade, that is, the ground on which the road is to be built, must be shaped to the same cross section as the finished road. A thorough rolling with a roller ten or more tons in weight is then given the sub grade, and on it the foundation course of stone is spread four or more inches deep. The stone in the base course is fairly large; if it is a broken stone base a 3½ inch stone is used and even larger if the stone is soft. Soft stone breaks up under the roller.

The base is filled with sand so that every nook and corner is full. Rolling is carried on while the filling is being done, and more sand is added from time to time as it finds its way into the voids between the stones. There must be no movement under the roller as it passes over the base. Rolling must be continued until this is accomplished.

Then 2 inch stone is spread to a depth of 3 inches and rolled. Always see that the roller man rolls from the sides toward the center, so as not to flatten out the crown. When the rolled stone is firm and does not move under the roller refined tar binder is applied at the rate of about 1½ gallons to the square yard. One of the large tar manufacturers sends the tar hot to the job in motor trucks if the cemetery is located near one of its many branches. From the motor truck it is distributed evenly on the stones.

Stone chips, about ¾ inch size, are spread over the freshly tarred surface and the road is rolled again. The excess chips are swept off, and the road is then ready for a seal coat of hot tar. After this is applied at the rate of ½ gallon to the square yard, the surface is covered with sand or chips or gravel, and rolled again to a finish.

Sixty days later a seal coat of tar should be applied, using a cold application material. It is the final cover of chips or gravel that determines the appearance of the pavement. A red granite chip cover gives a very attractive warm tone to the drive, while a blue stone or a white limestone cover may be applied so as to look like a newly made water bound macadam. A pea gravel cover gives a pretty effect such as is obtained with no other material. For those who prefer a smooth finish, a sand cover is applied.

So much for the building of a new drive. But what is to become of existing macadam roads that are rapidly going to pieces? These may be saved, if they are in fair condition, by surface treating with refined tar of proper consistency. All holes must first be patched and the surface made as smooth as possible. If necessary, where the road is badly rutted or filled with pot holes, the surface must be scarified, rolled, and then treated. But in many cases a surface treatment is all that is required. The tar is applied at the rate of ½ gallon to the square yard on the well swept road. Then a suitable cover of stone chips is strewn over the treatment, and the road is ready for use.
Some old macadams are worn so thin that new stone must be added to make it worth the expense of surface treating. It is always best to secure the advice of someone who is an expert in such work. Responsible materials companies are always glad to furnish advice free on such matters.

But there are many cemeteries that have no broken stone roads, although they may have many yards of gravel roads and walks that used to give good service. They can still be made to stand up, even under modern traffic if they are treated with refined tar. It must be ever kept in mind, however, that all gravels are not adapted to treatment. The advice of a road builder who has had experience in treating and maintaining gravel roads should be sought before attempting to apply tar to gravel. Walks built of gravel often may be successfully surface treated so as to make them dustless and attractive, at little expense. These tar surface treatments preserve walks and drives from erosion and wear, and actually reduce the cost of maintenance.

Tar will not stick to mud, dirt, greasy surfaces, or wet stone or gravel. In treating an old road great care must be taken to thoroughly clean the surface so that all dust and dirt are removed, exposing the clean stone to the tar spray. If caked mud or other material is left on the road the tar that is sprayed over this area will peel off, leaving an unprotected surface that will develop into a hole. A little elbow grease will accomplish wonders.

Where new walks are to be built it will be found cheaper to build them like the New England tar walks than to construct them of cement concrete. Tar walks are attractive to the eye and easy on the feet. The method of construction is simple, and there is no expensive plant to be bought and maintained.

Tar bound drives and walks are durable and artistic. In addition they are inexpensive in first cost, and are maintained economically. Their use in so many cemeteries throughout the country is proof of their suitability.

A Member-What do you mean by "clean"?

Mr. John S. Crandell-So that the mosaic on the stone shows out; so that there is no loose dirt, dust, mud, or caked dirt, get that all off. Frequently, you will find that there has been dirt caked on there since the time of Adam; you have got to get that off. When you get your road thoroughly clean, then put on your tar and it will stay until it is worn out. Don't try to put on too heavy a coat of tar, either; that's just like painting a house; don't try to do it all in one coat, put on two or three, rather two thin coats than one thick one, and you will get better results, As I say, the maintenance cost will be very slight. For the patching, you can use this tarvia K. P. method. And I would advise you men who are using tarvia now, when you want to put on a paint coat after you get in your patches, that you get a big white wash brush and let your men use that to actually paint that surface, so that you get a thin coat and then put your screenings and sand on top. If a man goes out with a coal scuttle and tries to apply it out of that so as to make it thin he is not going to get a good piece of work, or a patch that is any good. Then don’t try to heat tarvia K. P. because that is not a safe process to heat tarvia K. P. in an open kettle; it has a solvent in it that generates a gas when it is being heated. It is made for cold work only; use it cold. Now, the service that can be given you by responsible companies should be taken advantage of. The company that I represent will send a man almost to the ends of the earth to advise with people who want to use the material. I was called from Chicago down to Montgomery, Alabama, two years ago about treating the camp roads down there, and it involved about 100,000 gallons of material-a very nice order. The roads were of gravel, well they weren’t really gravel, they called them gravel but it was really dirt and stone mixed up, and so I turned the order down. So, if your roads are not capable of treatment, the Barrett Company doesn't want to treat them and won’t sell you the material, but if they are capable of treatment, we are only too glad to advise you about them. Then, too, the truck distributors operate from many of your large cities, and they will give you excellent service. Now, as to prices, I can't give you at the present moment any cost price of the actual construction of a road. Any of the local men can give you costs of surface treating, but with the condition of the labor market the way it is, it is absolutely impossible now to say what any given road will cost. If there are any questions, I will be very glad to answer them.

A Member - Will a gravel road have to be scarified before being treated?

Mr. John S. Crandell-That all depends on the condition of the road. If the road is well shaped up, the gravel is firm and not dirty; it doesn’t need to be scarified. If there are holes in it, sometimes those, holes can be individually patched, first with a mixture of gravel and tarvia K. P. and then the surface, allowing time for those patched holes to dry up and putting the tarvia over the top; if not, you are going to have a soft patch which will take a long time to set up. But if the gravel is clean, well shaped, free from holes, don't scarify, because you will do more harm by scarifying such a road than good. Unless your surface is uneven, then, of course, by all means scarify, but be sure it is well rolled.

A Member - What are your present prices per gallon?

Mr. John S. Crandell-The present base price runs around ten cents a gallon I can't give you exact prices because they vary different territories with freight rates and distribution service. That rate I gave you there is in tank cars, f. o. b. factory. In barrels, it costs a good deal more because of the cost of the barrels, as you know. A second-hand barrel at the present time costs us at the plant on an average throughout the country from $1.40 to $1.50, say $1.50. Now, a barrel holds fifty gallons that's three cents a gallon we have to pay for the barrel. If you have a big enough job, it is much cheaper in tank cars, or if you have distributors within reaching distance of your cemeteries, you can have it put on by auto truck. Woodlawn Cemetery, in New York, has a number of tarvia roads, and they were put on by distributors. Are there any other questions?

A Member - Would you advise trees alongside of a road, like you showed in the picture-poplar trees?

Mr. John S. Crandell-I would not, but this man was in a hurry to move into his house and have it look like an old place, and so they planted poplar trees. Probably by the time they are full grown, the man would have moved out, decided he didn't want to live there any longer. I don't believe in planting trees as close as that to a road, anyway; there’s great danger of those trees gathering up moisture underneath that road, especially in New England and Wisconsin and Michigan, where you have heavy frosts, you are apt to have trouble from that source.

A Member - What effect would freezing have?

Mr. John S. Crandell-The freezing of any road is due to the fact that you haven't led the moisture away from the base. Sometimes it is impossible to lead the moisture away, but assuming that the base is frozen, the result will be that your road will heave. Up in Maine, they get a frost of five feet sometimes. Now, in probably 95 percent of the cases, that road will go back into place. Sometimes in the Spring you may have a crack or a break right in the middle. I saw a road like that up in Michigan two years ago, and I saw it again two months later; the frost had gone out of the ground and that road was back and there was nothing but a crack. I would clean out that crack so as to get it good and clean through there, and then pour it full of tar, hot tar, if possible. A concrete road will often heave and the heaves will not go back, they have to be chiseled.

A Member - How thick do you consider it necessary to make roads in a cold climate? We have miles of roads put down, and very often we have to do them over about every ten years at tremendous expense.

Mr. John S. Crandell-Under most circumstances we advocate a 4 inch crushed stone base and a 2½ inch wearing course making 6½ altogether.

A Member - In our climate, it won't stand it at all.

Mr. John S. Crandell-Well, I should say you need 16 inches of base, and a 2 inch top. I don't know whether you men know it, but the Pennsylvania Railroad some years ago conducted a series of experiments to find out how thick they ought to lay the ballast of the road. Probably you know that at the present time most railroad men consider 18 or 20 inches of ballast sufficient. The Pennsylvania found in order to avoid freezing and to get the best results, they ought to have 7 feet of ballast; of course, that's an economic impossibility. Sometimes what you ought to have as a base for your roads, you can't have for that reason, but I have an idea that for the average climate that's high enough. Of course, in a very severe climate, you have got to increase the depth and drain the sub-soil very well. Any other questions?

A Member - How will that truck work on a fifteen foot road?

Mr. John S. Crandell-Of course, it depends upon the truck; we have different trucks, but generally I would say, you would have to do that going one way, that is, up one side and back the other.

A Member - Won't you go over the center twice?

Mr. John C. Crandell-No the man stands on the back and he has a lever there, and he can control and shift his distributors so that he will not lap over; we have it so that they control it and it will not lap over once in a mile; we are getting good results with that.

A Member - Does the gravel have to be thoroughly dry?

Mr. John S. Crandell-No; it may be damp; in fact, some of the best treatments we have ever given have been over damp gravel, but it must not be wet. It may be damp. But that's a dangerous statement to make, too, because your foreman or the men who are going to do the work, perhaps what you would consider wet, he may consider damp. You had better go out yourself and see to it that it is really only damp.

A Member - We have some water-bound macadam spiked together, in good condition, no bad ruts or dust, and we want to change that into tarvia. Would you suggest this method?

Mr. John S. Crandell-Yes, I would say in that case, without seeing the road, of course. Are there any holes in it?

A Member-No, it is in good condition.

Mr. John S. Crandell-I would put, I think, half a gallon of tarvia B to the square yard, and then let that sink in, say, twenty-four hours before I covered it, and then, what sort of a surface do you want on the top?

A Member - We want to get away from the tar effect.

Mr. John S. Crandell-Well, then you can get ¾ inch slag chips and then I would cover it with that, and then the next year, come along with about ⅛ of a gallon or ¼ of a gallon, and give it one more treatment; that will probably put it in fine condition. Another gentleman wants to know if any crown can be given to the road. We have figured that out too, somewhat. If your road is going to be rough or a rough surface you can use a bigger crown than you do when it is smooth, but you want a very slight crown if it is smooth because some of you will not have money enough to treat your roads year after year, and they will wear smooth to some extent, anyhow. Then, too, if you get horses on any road that is highly crowned, they will slip much more readily. Just the amount of crown in any given case, I would not be prepared to say without knowing all the conditions, but generally speaking make a very slight crown. Are there any other questions? If not, I thank you very much.

From the publication:
“AACS - Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Convention held at Cincinnati, OH"
September 24, 25 and 26, 1919