Tag Archives: Bellefontaine

Event Commemorates 1891 Pavement Test Strip

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).[1]  

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.[2]

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.


* Sponsors

This project and this special event were made possible by the generous contributions of the following organizations and individuals:

Corporate Sponsors

  • The American Concrete Pavement Association
  • ACPA Chapter/State Paving Associations
  • Great Lakes Cement Promotion Council**
  • LafargeHolcim

In-Kind Contributors

  • City of Bellefontaine, Ohio
  • Ohio Ready Mix, Inc.
  • Marys Cement, Inc.
  • Yoder Concrete Construction, LLC                 

Individual Contributors

  • 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.


Event to Celebrate First Concrete Pavement

ACPA Members, Chapter/State affiliates, technology partners, and others are invited to a ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate the construction of a replica of the test strip that was placed by George Bartholomew in 1891 prior to the construction of America’s first concrete street.

The replica was designed as part of a project to revitalize the downtown area with a new outdoor patio expansion to the popular brick oven pizzeria, “Six Hundred Downtown.”  The event will begin at 11:30 a.m. (Eastern) on July 12, and will be held in the 100 block of Main Street in downtown Bellefontaine.  The unveiling of a commemorative plaque also will be part of the celebration.

The event will include remarks by Bellefontaine’s Mayor, the Hon. R. Benjamin Stahler, ACPA President and CEO Jerry Voigt, Great Lakes Cement Promotion Council Executive Director Ray McVeigh, and Ohio Concrete Association Executive Director Greg Colvin.  Also invited are local officials from Bellefontaine and family members of the Bartholomew family.   For additional details about the event, please click here to download an event flyer.

The event was organized by the Task Force for the Preservation of Historic Concrete Pavement Artifacts, and was made possible because of the contributions of corporate sponsors, in-kind contributors, and individual contributors.  For a list of the contributors, please see the event flyer.

In April 2016, the task force organized a celebration of the 125th Anniversary celebration of the placement of the first concrete pavement, and that event prompted the concept of replicating the original test strip.  Participation in the event is free of charge, but interested parties are asked to register with Amy Fimple of the Ohio Chapter, ACPA at  614.891.0210 or amy@ohioconcrete.org.

Fundraising Effort Will Help Replicate First Concrete Test Strip

With an eye on preserving the history of concrete paving, the City of Bellefontaine, Ohio; the Ohio Chapter–ACPA; and the Task Force on Preservation of Artifacts from Historical Concrete Pavements* are asking for voluntary contributions to help preserve a vital piece of concrete pavement history.

The group is advancing a plan
to place an 11-foot section to replicate the first concrete pavement constructed in America.

Expected to be  completed later this year, the new section will incorporate the surface features of the original 7 ft-wide concrete pavement. 

The fundraising effort is underway with the aim of offsetting construction costs for the project and commemorating the new section. This latest effort follows the success of the 125th anniversary celebration of the original concrete pavement in
Bellefontaine, Ohio, in April.

“We are now working to preserve, in concrete, one of the key components of this historic site,” says Shiraz Tayabji, Ph.D., P.E., of Advanced Concrete Pavement Consultancy. Working with a small group of volunteers and public officials in Bellefontaine, we are working to re-create the original test strip that will provide service for another 100+ years, linking the past, present, and future of the concrete pavement industry.”

The City of Bellefontaine is planning to generously support the re-creation effort by removing the asphalt pavement and providing maintenance of traffic and safety devices, Tayabji says. 

Please visit the Ohio Concrete association’s fundraising website today,  http://www.ohioconcrete.org/product/the-future-is-in-your-hands/.

* The task force is represented by Shiraz Tayabji, Ph.D., P.E., Advanced Concrete Pavement Consultancy, LLC; Kurt Smith, ARA; Larry Scofield, P.E., IGGA/ACPA; Mark Pardi, P.E., ACPA Ohio Chapter; and Bill Davenport, American Concrete Pavement Association.

Group Aims to Replicate First Concrete Test Strip

Aerial view shows the site of the proposed replicated test strip at far left.   (Photo:  Task Force for the Preservation of Historical Concrete Pavement Artifacts.)

Aerial view shows the site of the proposed replicated test strip at far left. (Photo: Task Force for the Preservation of Artifacts from Historical Concrete Pavements.)

The City of Bellefontaine, Ohio, the Ohio Chapter-ACPA, and the Task Force on Preservation of Artifacts from Historical Concrete Pavements* have developed a plan to place an 11-foot section to replicate the first concrete pavement constructed in America.

The new section will incorporate the surface features of the original 7 foot wide concrete pavement.

A fundraising effort is underway with the aim of offsetting construction costs for the project and commemorating the new section. 

This latest effort follows the success of the 125th anniversary celebration of the original concrete pavement in Bellefontaine, Ohio, in April.

“We are now working to preserve, in concrete, one of the key components of this historic site,” says Shiraz Tayabji, Ph.D., P.E., of Advanced Concrete Pavement Consultancy.  Working with a small group of volunteers and public officials in Bellefontaine, we are working to re-create the original test strip that will provide service for another 100+ years,  linking the past, present, and future of the concrete pavement industry.”

The City of Bellefontaine is generously supporting the re-creation effort by removing the asphalt pavement and providing MOT and safety devices.   To make the vision a reality, the group is asking for sponsorship gifts that will bring this project to life and preserve the historic site in concrete. 

Please visit the Ohio Concrete association’s fundraising website or complete the attached mail-in pledge form today.

* The task force is represented by Shiraz Tayabji, Ph.D., P.E., Advanced Concrete Pavement Consultancy, LLC; Kurt Smith, ARA; Larry Scofield, P.E., IGGA/ACPA; Mark Pardi, P.E., ACPA Ohio Chapter; and Bill Davenport, American Concrete Pavement Association. 



First Concrete Pavement Marks 125 Years

The 125th anniversary of the placement of the first concrete pavement in the United States provided the perfect opportunity to see the earliest concrete pavement still in service, but the event was much more.

Approximately 125 people participated in the two-part event held in on April 25th in Columbus (ahead of the National Concrete Consortium meeting), as well as Bellefontaine, Ohio, the site of the historic concrete pavement.   Officials from the public and private sector delivered interesting and informative presentations and remarks, which underscored the past, present, and future of concrete pavements.

 “Concrete pavement technology has changed significantly in the past 125 years, but many changes are needed in the future,” said Mike Darter, Ph.D., P.E., Emeritus Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Principal Engineer, ‎Applied Research Associates, Inc.

Presenters also reminded attendees of the passion and commitment of the people, not only the early pavement pioneers, but those who are currently responsible for the nation’s surface transportation infrastructure.

“A lot of things have changed in 125 years, but the people have not. They’re the same now as they were then,” said David Howard, P.E., President and CEO of Koss Construction, one of almost a dozen presenters and speakers at the two-part event.   

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About the first concrete pavements

According to an event flyer prepared by the Task Force on the Preservation of Artifacts from Historical Concrete Pavements*, the journey that led to the placement of the first concrete pavement started when George Bartholomew, founder of Buckeye Portland Cement, settled in Bellefontaine in 1886.  Bartholomew established a laboratory in the rear of Butler’s Drug Store, where he experimented with limestone and clay from local sources.  (Bartholomew previously worked for the San Antonio Cement Company, site of another historic concrete pavement, Belknap Place.)

Several years of lobbying the city to approve the use of “artificial stone” ensued, according to the Task Force.   Finally, city officials accepted his proposal to construct a short, experimental section, provided that he submit a $5,000 bond and that he warrant it for five years.  Bartholomew, along with J.C. Wonders, Bellefontaine City Engineer, and W.T.G. Snyder, a principal road builder in Bellefontaine, “opened the doors to a new product and a new era of paved surfaces,” according to the task force flyer.

After success with the original test section of Main Street, the city paved all four streets surrounding the Logan County Courthouse between 1893 and 1894.   The approximately 7,700 SY of pavement attracted a lot of positive publicity, as well as attention from engineers throughout the United States. 

A slab from the 1891 concrete section was exhibited at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair (officially, the World’s Columbian Exposition), where it was awarded first place for Engineering Technology Advancement in Paving Materials.

In Bellefontaine, where the commemoration continued later in the day,  Mayor Ben Stahler spoke before a crowd of about 125 people on Court Street, according to Peak of Ohio.**  City Engineer Tim Notestine and his father, former Bellefontaine Mayor Robert Notestine spoke about the significance of the historic street. Former Mayor Notestine shared from the past when he was a councilman that they wanted to blacktop the concrete street, adding that he was against it because people from all over the world would come see the 1st concrete street, according to Peak of Ohio.

ACPA has been given concrete samples from the historic project.  Volunteers from member testing firms will analyze samples and provide a petrographic account of the 125-year-old concrete.  ACPA will report these results in future issues of ACPA Today.  Once the testing is complete, the samples will go on display at the ACPA Headquarters office.   

Paving the way to the future

The commemorative event was the perfect opportunity for ACPA to unveil its new Historic Concrete Pavement Explorer.   The explorer is a web-based resource that will chronicle concrete pavements that have been in place 75 years or more, as well as those that represent “firsts” in type of facility, use of new technologies, etc. 

The common thread that connects the Bellefontaine pavement with the other concrete pavements both old and new is that these and other pavements represent the bold spirit of innovation and commitment to quality that is prevalent among the dedicated contractors, materials and equipment suppliers, consultants, and of course, the agencies/owners.

These pavements are also much more than highways, airports, streets, roads, or industrial facilities – they are the links to business and commerce, personal mobility, and the quality of life so many people enjoy.   From the humble beginnings in Bellefontaine, the original test strip launched an industry; a national trade association that is today singularly focused on concrete pavements; and many technological improvements that have followed over the years. 

The Bellefontaine pavement and those projects to be featured in the ACPA Historic Concrete Pavement Explorer are not just reminders of our past—they also serve as a guidepost to the quality, technological advancements, and excellence that can be found in concrete pavements now and in the years ahead.



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What’s next for the Bellefontaine pavements?

Following the event, the Task Force sent a letter to Bellefontaine Mayor Ben Stahler, along with a $2,000 contribution toward the future upkeep of the 1893 section of the street that still remains exposed.   The Task Force also contributed $500 to the Logan County Historical Society that houses the Transportation Museum with an exhibit on the first concrete street.

Also, the Task Force and Ohio Concrete are continuing discussions with the City of Bellefontaine to re-create the 1891 street section at the original location. The City has expressed a willingness to pursue this.

For anyone interested in contributing to this effort in terms of material and labor (preferably local Ohio sponsors) or financially, please contact Shiraz Tayabji at stayabji@gmail.com. We expect the cost to be about $8,000 to $10,000 (including materials and labor). Our hope is that the replicate section will have the same surface features and layout (possibly a bit shorter) as the original 1891 street, but will be constructed using modern concrete with an expectation of more than 100 years of service life.



* Grateful acknowledgement goes to Task Force Members: Shiraz Tayabji, Advance Concrete Pavement Consultancy, LLC; Larry Scofield, International Grooving & Grinding Association; Kurt Smith, Applied Pavement Technology, and Mark Pardi, Ohio Chapter-ACPA/Ohio Concrete.   The author of this article (Bill Davenport, ACPA) also serves as a Task Force member.


** Peak of Ohio is WBLL AM 1390/WPKO 98.3.  


Photo credits:  Photos from Columbus and Bellefontaine by ACPA.   Special thanks to Robert Rodden, Lead Engineer, PNA Construction Technologies, Inc., for some of the photos from the Logan country Transportation Museum, Logan County History Center, as well as in Bellefontaine, Ohio. 


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