There are more than two million miles of road in the U.S. that are paved with asphalt, but do you know what asphalt really is? Or where it came from? Our asphalt patching repair company is here to enlighten you:
Asphalt is a sticky, black, viscous liquid that can be found naturally in a concentrated form. It most popularly occurs in lakes; when the remains of ancient, microscopic algae mix with the mud at the bottom of a lake, the pressure transforms them into asphalt. This material can be used naturally or can be refined.
Asphalt has been around since before the U.S. was the U.S. The first recorded use was in 625 B.C., when the Greeks used asphalt as a road-building material. They called the material “asphaltos,” which means “to make firm” or “to secure.” Since then, it was a versatile product used to caulk, to waterproof, and even to embalm.
It took a long time before asphalt was considered for road building. It wasn’t until the early 1800s that it was combined with small stones to produce pavement. While stone roadways were popular in the later 1700s, the stones were usually combined with dirt and water and then layered. As time went on, dust would constantly kick up and the roads would shift and dislodge. After the start of the 1800s, road builders decided that tar could be added on top of the road to bind the stones better and make the road more durable. This process became known as tar-macadam, commonly known as tarmac.
In the later 1800s, engineers in the U.S. began using asphalt for roadways and walkways. In 1970, a Belgian chemist named Edmund J. DeSmedt was the first person to lay a true asphalt road in Newark, New Jersey. He also paved Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. using asphalt from Trinidad Lake.
When automobiles gained popularity in the early 1900s, the production of refined asphalt overtook the use of natural asphalt and more and more roads were built. Once the U.S. energy crisis occurred in the 1970s, companies found ways to recycle asphalt, which has made the material the most recycled product in the country today.