Public officials, industry representatives, local citizens, and special guests gathered in Bellefontaine, Ohio, for a ribbon-cutting to mark the completion of a replica of the test strip constructed prior to the construction of the first concrete street in America.
The replicated section is an 11-foot section of pavement, which features “dimples” to replicate the texture of the original test section built by George Wells Bartholomew Jr. While the original test strip was originally used as a horse hitching post, the replicated section is part of a project to revitalize the downtown area with a new outdoor patio expansion to a pizzeria.
“All concrete roads lead to Bellefontaine,” proclaimed Jerry Voigt, P.E., President and CEO of the American Concrete Pavement Association, as he spoke to a crowd gathered along the city’s Main Street for a special ceremony in mid-July.
Voigt thanked Bellefontaine Mayor Ben Stahler and the City of Bellefontaine for their commitment to preserving their heritage, which is also important to the concrete pavement industry’s heritage. The impressive concrete super-highways of this nation are descendants of the first concrete pavements in the nation, including Bellefontaine’s new replica of the original test section and Court Avenue, which was constructed in 1893.
“Thank you Mayor Stahler for not forgetting the historical significance of your concrete streets to the nation and to the industry born from the nation’s first concrete pavement,” he said. “The test strip first placed by George Bartholomew was the trial product,” Voigt said, reflecting on the risk taken by Bartholomew and the City of Bellefontaine more than 125 years ago. The original pavement holds the distinction of being the first two-lift concrete construction and the first warranted pavement. Bartholomew believed so strongly in the product that he posted a personal bond of $5,000 (the equivalent of more than $146,850 today).
In addition to the Mayor, the City of Bellefontaine, and the Bartholomew family, Voigt also thanked the sponsors who made both the replicated test strip and the event possible. Mayor Stahler presided over the ceremony, including a ribbon-cutting, and also thanked members of the Bartholomew family, public works officials, and representatives of the cement and concrete industries.
Kate Quickel, the great-great-granddaughter of George Bartholomew on behalf of other family members, including Nancy Bartholomew, wife of George Bartholomew’s late grandson; Susan Bartholomew Manecke (great-granddaughter); and Ellie Bartholomew Bates, the first member of the sixth generation of the family.
The test strip was an idea developed during the 125th anniversary celebration of the first concrete street in April 2016, according to Mark Pardi, Field Engineer/ACPA Ohio Concrete Chapter Representative.
“Every generation should be made aware of the importance of the first concrete street in Bellefontaine, Ohio, made possible by Mr. Bartholomew,” he said, adding, “Under the leadership of Mayor Stahler and his staff, the next page is written, and now this generation has a new reminder, a replica of the nation’s first concrete pavement.”
Pardi also said that the fundraising effort also allowed the development of a commemorative brass plaque, as well as a planned restoration of the original vellum/canvas plan that resides at the Bellefontaine City Office.
[1.] Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis: https://www.minneapolisfed.org/community/teaching-aids/cpi-calculator-information/consumer-price-index-1800.
[2.] Source: “Replica of 1891 concrete work dedicated in city,” by Reuben Mees, BELLEFONTAINE EXAMINER, July 13, 2017.
This project and this special event were made possible by the generous contributions of the following organizations and individuals:
- The American Concrete Pavement Association
- ACPA Chapter/State Paving Associations
- Great Lakes Cement Promotion Council**
- City of Bellefontaine, Ohio
- Ohio Ready Mix, Inc.
- Marys Cement, Inc.
- Yoder Concrete Construction, LLC
- Greg Colvin, Ohio Concrete Association
- Bill Davenport, ACPA
- Mark Pardi, Ohio Chapter-ACPA
- Larry Scofield, IGGA/ACPA
- Kurt Smith, Applied Pavement Technology
- Shiraz Tayabji, Applied Research Associates
** The Great Lake Cement Promotion Council, Inc. represents the following member companies: Buzzi Unicem Cement Company, Cemex, Continental Cement Company, Lehigh Hanson, and St. Marys Cement Company.