TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Next week, Terre Haute City Engineers will gear up for phase two of their Wabash Avenue Project, where they'll be resurfacing the street.
What you may not know is, many of Terre Haute's street and new building projects uncover parts of the city's past, revealing the layers of history that city engineers benefit from today.
From the late 1800's to the turn of the century, the city of Terre Haute grew quickly.
Like most developing cities at the time, dirt streets seemed a more mundane, slower path to travel on.
So local officials looked for an answer to raise Terre Haute to the standards of larger cities, and they found it: brick.
"They used it just like a pavement. It was predominately what Europeans used; It was cobblestone or brick pavement (and it was used) predominately on most of (our) roads," Larry Robbins from the City Engineer's office said.
For years after, the streets were lined with brick and concrete. Even trolley tracks were built around the brick pavement.
But right around the Great Depression, a new type of street replaced the cobblestone roadways of the Wabash Valley.
"From the roads we've done and re-done it seems like 70-80 years ago. (That's) when (it seems like) there was kind of a big push for asphalt," Robbins said.
In 1940, the Work Progress Administration paved 13 miles of street in Terre Haute with asphalt.
That Christmas, the city showed off its new streets, but never pulled the old brick streets out.
It's something you can still see today.
Whether you hear the rumble of cars driving down Washington Avenue, or see the bricks bracing the current street under 9th and Ohio, that brick from the turn of the century continues to have a place in town.
"In a situation where the older parts of town were predominantly brick streets," Robbins explained, "instead of tearing that up, they just paved over those, because they didn't see a lot of problems with the brick. There weren't any failures, there weren't cracks, and there weren't heaves."
They were bricks that provided a great foundation for Terre Haute's roads in the past, and they continue to support our roads in the present and the future.
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