Greene History Notes: Road building in Lexington

Contributed photoThis week features a postcard image of a road crew working in Lexington, probably circa 1905-1910. I’m not sure exactly where in Lexington this was — a more astute eye than mine might be able to place the location exactly using the house and landscape in the background for reference. This road building crew is hard at work using a rock crusher to pulverize stone piled up at the left. The pulverized stone would then be carted off by wheelbarrow for use nearby on a new roadbed. The stationary steam engine powering the operation at the right is surrounded by rough cut logs used for fuel. Of note is the large spark arrestor attached to the smokestack of the engine — perhaps this was added out of concern because of dry spring or summer conditions? A clue like this certainly calls to mind what must have been a hot sunny day. Winter in the mountains, harsh by all accounts, is particularly cruel to roads. Scenes like this must have been common across the mountain top in the spring and summer months as crews worked by hand to repair seasonal damage where swollen streams, landslides, and thaw had destroyed or upended the roadbed. That the scene was relatively common makes this postcard image more special, as it is most often the routine surroundings of our lives that we fail to document for posterity.

Questions and comments can be directed to Jon Palmer, Greene County Historian, via archivist gchistory.org.

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