The "Oldest Concrete Street in America" Still Going Strong 125 Years Later!

May 13, 2021 Karli Langner

George Bartholomew is celebrated as the man who brought “artificial stone” – cement and concrete – to the Midwest.

Back in the 19th century, concrete had not been used to pave streets just yet. Bartholomew had to convince the Bellefontaine City Council to try to use the mixture for paving on Court Avenue near the Logan County Courthouse. He posted a bond guaranteeing that the pavement would last for at least five years. In 1891, they began to lay down the foundation of the concrete road.

According to Historic Concrete Pavement Explorer, the pavement was 6 inches thick built in two lifts with hard aggregate so horseshoes wouldn’t wear the pavement. The 4 inch bottom section used 1 part cement to 5 parts gravel with a maximum aggregate size of 1 1/2 inches and a water to cement ratio of 0.60.

The top lift was a 2 inch section that combined 3 parts cement with 5 parts sand with a 1/2 inch maximum aggregate size and a water to cement ratio of 0.45. Additionally, quarter inch wide grooves that were a half inch deep were placed to help ensure horses wouldn’t slip. The pavement was also cured using a 2 inch layer of wet sand for a period of 2 weeks. The project cost $2.25 per square yard.

Now, 125 years later, the very first concrete pavement in the US is still in service – and Bartholomew’s claims that the pavement would last for at least 5 years have proven to be true 25 times over! Signs near the courthouse and along the street rave about the structure being the “Oldest Concrete Street in America.”

In 1991, a statue of George Bartholomew was erected in the center of the concrete street next to a plaque stating, “Here started the better roads movement.” Motor traffic was prohibited for a time so that the structure can last for centuries to come. However, few people used the street, and its impact on the downtown traffic flow led to its reopening several years later.

The monument to Bartholomew remains, but has been moved so that only the eastbound lane is usable. Today, the Logan County Historical Society and others hope to see the street restored to its car-free state.

Suzie Holycross, Business Development Manager, was raised in Bellefontaine, Ohio, so the “Oldest Concrete Street in America” has been a part of her life for many years. Growing up, Suzie would never have imagined that she would find herself working in the concrete industry, but a fond childhood memory has come full-circle for Suzie!

One has to wonder, if not for a pioneer like George Bartholomew, Command Alkon might not be who we are today either; providing solutions to ensure ready mix producers and those who place the materials are given the insight and visibility needed to build quality structures that will also last for centuries to come!

To learn more about Command Alkon’s production and quality control solutions, click here.

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