Corduroy road

Corduroy road

A Corduroy road or log road is a type of road made by placing sand-covered logs perpendicular to the direction of the road over a low or swampy area. The result is an improvement over impassable mud or dirt roads, yet is a bumpy ride in the best of conditions and a hazard to horses due to loose logs that can roll and shift. This type of road was already constructed in Roman times. It is known to have been used as early as 4,000 BC with examples found in Glastonbury, England . Compare the puncheon or plank road, 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, acidic, anaerobic soils such as peat or muskeg 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 between Burwash Landing and Koidern, Yukon, which was rebuilt in 1943, less than a year after the original route was graded on thin soil and vegetation over permafrost, by using corduroy, then building gravel road over top. During the 1980s, the gravel was itself covered with a chip-seal. During the late 1990s, this corduroy-underlain road began to be replaced with modern road construction, including rerouting of the entire highway.

In a slang application, "Corduroy Road" can also apply to a road in ill repair, having many holes, discernible ruts, or surface swellings and one on which travel is unpleasant, or capable of harming the vehicles travelling on it.

Corduroy roads were used extensively in the American Civil War in Sherman's March through the Carolinas and in World War II by both German and Soviet forces on the Eastern Front. In the Pacific Northwest corduroy roads built of huge logs and without the sand covering were the mainstay of local logging practices and were known as skid roads. Two of these, respectively on the outskirts of the milltowns of Seattle and Vancouver, 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, referring to a poor area.

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