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Road Mending In France

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. . Jubeph PenncH glves the followlnfc i:iti r .1 in ,; account tn Harper's Weekly of ruad mendfcig n France; Afi.T tlie road has been constructed conies the important part - the aiétiding of f,. As lías been stfid, tibit is most S.) inarvelously is it dune in Franc-3 tbat I can scarcely expect any one In believe the statements I am about to make. The great military roads of France, Les Routes Nationales, radíate [rom the large citi.'s like the spokes of a whet'l. Tl ii _v nre all niarked wlth kilometer stones, a kilómetro being about flveeighths of n inile. Tlie stones are about two feet and a holt higfa, a foot and a hall broad, and a foot thick. As you approac'h the flrst stone you will notice on the side nearest you the name of the nexl important town, with its distance ie kilometers and meters. On its face, following the lines of its semicircular top. you will read grande route number so and so, and bëlow tho e of the great city froin wnich it sfarts and the great city to which it goes, say Paris and Marseilles, and the actual distance to eacb by this road. On the other side is the distance from the largo town from which you siarted. Every hundred meters you will Beo a neat little white stone with the numbi.T inscribed on it. As there are a thoutsarul meters in i kilometer, there are ten of these Btone8, and when you come to each I you can lell exaetly the distanco you have made. Thefiftli stone, which mdrks the half way distamo belween the two kilometer stones, is usually a little larger than the others. As you pass from one of the eighty-six departments of Frame into another you will see a larger stom; marking tlie boundáry line and recording the distance to many important points. It' the gradiënt becotues at all Bteep, the factwill be annóunced somowhat as ie is at tlie side of a railway, and there are several other marks used by the engtneéra which I donot undersland. On the fust house in eácli village approachmg from either end you will lind the name of tliat villago clearly writtén ia white letters-tín a blue groubd ota a metal píate, the name of the village you have just left, with the distance. au airow pointing in iis direction,-the name of the one you are coming to and the names of the nearest large cities both ways. At all cross roads you will lind the same infoimation. Tlie kilometer stoned themselvesare paifited white, and the numbërs anii Üames are cu't into the stone to protect them from the rain, and pajnted black. The roaaway is wide cnough for two or three teams to pass. Bevond is a sweep of beáútifully fcept grass, and beyond aain two great deep glitters, outside of which is a bank of carth higher than the licltls wliicli it bimnds, Uéèpmg all tlie water, if there shoúld be any, back in the fiélds and olí the roads. Every hundred feet or so. cut in the grass by taking the turf out, is i small gutter. throügu which any water which may l'all in the road is dniined into the deeper gutter. As you ride along you will see that the road is diviiiccl by movablo tin sijiiis with cantonniers on them. Near these síjjhs, which are usually about a mile or two apart, you will lind a man breaklng Btonetf email enottghto go through a two and a half inch ring, piling tho broken stone up in a symmetrical niass like a house roof, which must exactly fit into a skeleton frame the cantonnier places over it. These stone breakers aio at work spring, sunimer and autumn. Other men will bc pieking up the droppings on tho road, putting them in a wheelbarrow, in another part of which is fresh sand to sprinkle over the place, and they carry rakeé and brooms to touch up any imperfections on the surface, for such a thing as a loóse stone or a lump of dirt is alinost unlcnown. HaWng gathered anything which may have fallen from passing carts or wagons - for the horses' hoofs do not kick up the surface of the road, nor do the wheels grind into it - each goes over the whole of his allotted space with a brootn about ten feet long, s weeping of' the sand, which is taken away and stored for future use or sold. This is kept up daily from April till October, and so tlioroughly that, though I have traveled over the roads of France in both the wettest and driest summers and autumns, I have never found halfan inch of dust or mud on the Grandes Iioutes. The cantonniers, when any distance from villages or towns, havehouses in which they live, and they go to their work morning and evening between the magnificent avenues of poplara in the north, of cypresses in the south, of sycamores, which line so many roads of the Midi. It is absurd to say the roads are like those of a park, for in no park out of FranCe are they equaled.


Old News
Ann Arbor Courier