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Ancient Roman Roads

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It is claimed that the Incas of Peru vere the greatest road makers thfi world 'has ever known. Montaigne tells of a road from Quite Cuzco, 300 leagues long and twenty-líve paces broad, made of stonea ten feet square, with a running stream and a row of trees on each side, and there is so little reason to doubt this statement that it can be accepted as Iiteraüy true. Prescott, in his "History of Peru," in speaking of this road saya that "it was conducted over pathlaes sierras covered with snow; galleries were cut through the living rock; rivers were crossed by means of bridges that swung suspended in the air; precipices were scaled by stairways hewn out of the native bed, and ravines of hideous depth were filled up with solid masonry." The Incas of Peru are doubtless entitled to the palm for road making, but nevertheless in the popular mind the ancient Romans will probably always be regarded as pre-eminent in building permanent means of comniunication from one part of the empire to another. The history of ancient Peru strikes the average mind as about as real as the tales of the '-Arabian Nights," but there is a verity about Roman history, due to the fact that in all schools it has been conned over and over, until even the man of the dullest imaginatiou kas lived in the great deeds of the fotmders, idled with the sybarites of its too ripe days and suffered with those who vainly attempted to check its decadence and prevent the overthrow of its glory. Therefore I tMnk that in this era of road improvement agitation there will be more interest to learn how the Romans worked than that of any other people. It is said that they learned theirmethod from the Carthagenians, but wherever they learned it they carried it out with no regard whatever to the cost entailed. In Italy only the old Romans built 14,000 miles of road, and manj of their roads remain today either as the surface or the foundation of modern roads. The antiquaries have divided the roads leading from the gates of ancient Rome into several systems. Directly to the sea the Romans traveled by the Ostian road; along the sea shore to the uortiiwest by the Aurelian, and to the southeast by the Appian. Next the Aurelian in the other direction was the Flaminian, then the Salarian, the Noïnentarian, the Tiburtine, the Praenestine. the Lavican and the Latín. Of these roads the Appian is the most ancient and the most famous. lts first stretch, from the Colosseum to Capua, was bnilt by Appins Claudius in the 442d year of the city. This was a distance of 142 Roman miles. Julius Caesar extended this highway from Capna to Brundusdum. We are indebted to Horace for a very minute description of a journey to Brandnsium. Sir William Geil, too, in this centnry, in a book called "The Topography of Rome and lts Vicinity," has traced out the road as it originally was, and located many of the monuments and sites of ancient villas along either side of this noble highway. In laying out a highway the old Roman engineers seemed to practice a plan which would seem very strange to us. Whether or not they made a preliminary survey for the purpose of observing the topographical features of the country the records do not speak, but it is manifest to niy mind that they did not. They knew whither they wished to go. Standing at the starting point, some landmark in the proper direction would be selected, and the road located on an absolutely straight line to that point. Then a trench was dug the entire length until some kind of solid foundation was f ound. When a foundation of solid rock was f ound the lowest course of masonry was omitted. This masonry consisted of three courses, each about 12 inches thick. The lowest course was of large flat stones, put in with reference to bearing, the interstices filled with spawls and the whole grouted with cement. The second course was of concrete - that is, email stones mixed with cement mortar, and the surface of this was smoothed very carefuLly. On top of this the third eourse was laid, and this consisted of polygonal blocks fitted with the utmost nicety. These roadways were from 16 to 26 feet wide from curb to curb, and beyond the curbing on each side of the road was a foot pavement 2 feet wide. The stone of which these roads were bnilt was usually of volcanic origin and very hard and black in color. Notwithstanding the substantial character of these roads, the utmost weight which each class of vehicle was permitted to carry was regnlated by law, and these laws were strictly enforced. The conseqnence of this careful building is that, though there were periods centuries ago when Italy was sunk into almost universal barbarism, and that it is now taxed almost to death to maintain a navy and anny, the roads compare favorably with the best in Enrope. This is not the case wbere one wanders off from the main highways, which are still maintained by the government. In Italy as in America, where the maintenance of the country roads is left to local care, the roads are bad. Those in Italy are practicallyinipatBable. Bat in this country we don't need to hnild such roada as the Komans built. In the first place we can exercise more ingenuity than they dïd, and lay out our roads wrtb. some reference to heavy work and to easy grades. And then in the second place we have no need f or snch solid masonry as they saw fit to use. Teiford and MacAdam have tanght us how we can build roads as sohdly as roads need 'to be bralt if we will oniy ottend to one cardinal principie in ing and to another in maintenance. We cannot bnild a solid roadbed unles3 we have perfect drainage. No foundation, however carefnlly laid, will resist the loads on the pavemente müess the earth beneath is dry and the metal covering impervions to water. The Romans may not have drained perfectly at all times, but I am persnaded that they undsrstood it in theory. Onr telford and macadam payements will answer out ptrrposes quite as well as any roads the Ctesara evor planned, or, for that matter, be for practical uso as snbstantial as the ten reet sanare blocks of the Incas of Peru.