Daily mythology: Macadam

macadam

 Praised be the Scottish engineer Loudon McAdam, who invented that type of road and gave his name to it! Because our coach used to be stuck in the mud…In my driving life I think I knew more macadam-roads than tar- or concrete ones. Damn! I crossed the whole Balkans on macadam roads, I drove them in Greece, in Italy, in France, in England, in Switzerland and in Germany. Lanet olsun! They just made us a fine new road to Turgutreis, now it became macadam again, because the rain washed huge amounts of pebbles down from the mountainside. The car groans as I pass them. I watch the seagulls and the sea. Alas! If I was an Albatross! Water has no beams, we say, and for sure no macadam. And the birds are gliding the air without much effort.

But imagine the mud before…. Loudon invented a new process, “macadamisation”, for building roads with a smooth hard surface, using controlled materials of mixed particle size and predetermined structure that would be more durable and less muddy than soil-based tracks. Later, McAdams moved to Bristol (pleased to know that) and became surveyor of many turnpike roads (the toll roads of those times). In early Victorian times toll-roads were thought to be an obstacle to free trade and abolished. No we put toll on roads again.

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