Corduroy road

Corduroy road

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A corduroy road or log road is a type of road
Road
A road is a thoroughfare, route, or way on land between two places, which typically has been paved or otherwise improved to allow travel by some conveyance, including a horse, cart, or motor vehicle. Roads consist of one, or sometimes two, roadways each with one or more lanes and also any...

 made by placing sand
Sand
Sand is a naturally occurring granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles.The composition of sand is highly variable, depending on the local rock sources and conditions, but the most common constituent of sand in inland continental settings and non-tropical coastal...

-covered logs perpendicular
Perpendicular
In geometry, two lines or planes are considered perpendicular to each other if they form congruent adjacent angles . The term may be used as a noun or adjective...

 to the direction of the road over a low or swamp
Swamp
A swamp is a wetland with some flooding of large areas of land by shallow bodies of water. A swamp generally has a large number of hammocks, or dry-land protrusions, covered by aquatic vegetation, or vegetation that tolerates periodical inundation. The two main types of swamp are "true" or swamp...

y area.

The result is an improvement over impassable mud or dirt roads, yet rough in the best of conditions and a hazard to horse
Horse
The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus, or the wild horse. It is a single-hooved mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today...

s due to shifting loose logs. This type of road was constructed in Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 times. It is known to have been used as early as 4000 BC with examples found in Glastonbury
Glastonbury
Glastonbury is a small town in Somerset, England, situated at a dry point on the low lying Somerset Levels, south of Bristol. The town, which is in the Mendip district, had a population of 8,784 in the 2001 census...

, England. Compare the puncheon or plank road
Plank road
A plank road or puncheon is a dirt path or road covered with a series of planks, similar to the wooden sidewalks one would see in a Western movie. Plank roads were very popular in Ontario, the U.S. Northeast and U.S. Midwest in the first half of the 19th century...

, which uses hewn boards instead of logs, resulting in a smoother and safer surface.


Corduroy roads can also be built as a foundation for other surfacing. If the logs are buried in wet, acid
Acid
An acid is a substance which reacts with a base. Commonly, acids can be identified as tasting sour, reacting with metals such as calcium, and bases like sodium carbonate. Aqueous acids have a pH of less than 7, where an acid of lower pH is typically stronger, and turn blue litmus paper red...

ic, anaerobic
Hypoxia (environmental)
Hypoxia, or oxygen depletion, is a phenomenon that occurs in aquatic environments as dissolved oxygen becomes reduced in concentration to a point where it becomes detrimental to aquatic organisms living in the system...

 soils such as peat
Peat
Peat is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation matter or histosol. Peat forms in wetland bogs, moors, muskegs, pocosins, mires, and peat swamp forests. Peat is harvested as an important source of fuel in certain parts of the world...

 or muskeg
Muskeg
Muskeg is an acidic soil type common in Arctic and boreal areas, although it is found in other northern climates as well. Muskeg is approximately synonymous with bogland but muskeg is the standard term in Western Canada and Alaska, while 'bog' is common elsewhere. The term is of Cree origin, maskek...

 they decay very slowly. A few corduroy road foundations that date back to the early 20th century still exist in the United States. One example is the Alaska Highway
Alaska Highway
The Alaska Highway was constructed during World War II for the purpose of connecting the contiguous U.S. to Alaska through Canada. It begins at the junction with several Canadian highways in Dawson Creek, British Columbia and runs to Delta Junction, Alaska, via Whitehorse, Yukon...

 between Burwash Landing and Koidern, Yukon
Yukon
Yukon is the westernmost and smallest of Canada's three federal territories. It was named after the Yukon River. The word Yukon means "Great River" in Gwich’in....

, which was rebuilt in 1943, less than a year after the original route was graded on thin soil and vegetation over permafrost
Permafrost
In geology, permafrost, cryotic soil or permafrost soil is soil at or below the freezing point of water for two or more years. Ice is not always present, as may be in the case of nonporous bedrock, but it frequently occurs and it may be in amounts exceeding the potential hydraulic saturation of...

, by using corduroy, then building gravel road on top. During the 1980s, the gravel was covered with a chip-seal
Chipseal
Chip seal is a pavement surface treatment that combines a layer of asphalt with a layer of fine aggregate. In the United States, chip seals are typically used on rural roads carrying lower traffic volumes, and the process is often referred to as "asphaltic surface treatment"...

. The late 1990s saw replacement of this road with modern road construction, including rerouting of the entire highway.
In a slang
Slang
Slang is the use of informal words and expressions that are not considered standard in the speaker's language or dialect but are considered more acceptable when used socially. Slang is often to be found in areas of the lexicon that refer to things considered taboo...

 application, corduroy road can also apply to a road in ill repair, having many pothole
Pothole
A pothole is a type of disruption in the surface of a roadway where a portion of the road material has broken away, leaving a hole.- Formation :...

s, ruts, or surface swellings. This should not be confused with a washboard road.

Historical uses


Corduroy roads were used extensively in the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 in Sherman's March
Sherman's March
Sherman's March: A Meditation on the Possibility of Romantic Love In the South During an Era of Nuclear Weapons Proliferation is a 1986 documentary film written and directed by Ross McElwee. It was awarded the Grand Jury prize at the 1987 Sundance Film Festival. and in 2000, was selected for...

 through the Carolinas and in WWII by German and Soviet forces on the Eastern Front
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

.

In the Pacific Northwest corduroy roads built of huge logs without the sand covering were the mainstay of local logging
Logging
Logging is the cutting, skidding, on-site processing, and loading of trees or logs onto trucks.In forestry, the term logging is sometimes used in a narrow sense concerning the logistics of moving wood from the stump to somewhere outside the forest, usually a sawmill or a lumber yard...

 practices and were called skid
Skidder
A skidder is any type of heavy vehicle used in a logging operation for pulling cut trees out of a forest in a process called "skidding", in which the logs are transported from the cutting site to a landing. Here they are loaded onto trucks , and sent to the mill...

 roads. Two of these, respectively on the outskirts of the milltowns of Seattle and Vancouver
Vancouver
Vancouver is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. It is the hub of Greater Vancouver, which, with over 2.3 million residents, is the third most populous metropolitan area in the country,...

, which had become concentrations of bars and working man's slum, were the origin of the more widespread meaning of "skid road" and its derivative skid row
Skid row
A skid row or skid road is a run-down or dilapidated urban area with a large, impoverished population. The term originally referred literally to a path along which working men skidded logs. Its current sense appears to have originated in the Pacific Northwest...

, referring to a poor area.

Origin


The name "corduroy road" refers to the similar appearance of the corduroy
Corduroy
Corduroy is a textile composed of twisted fibers that, when woven, lie parallel to one another to form the cloth's distinct pattern, a "cord." Modern corduroy is most commonly composed of tufted cords, sometimes exhibiting a channel between the tufts...

fabric.