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John Loudon McAdam - The History of Roads and Asphalt
By Mary Bellis

Return to the History of Roads and Asphalt

John Loudon McAdam (born 1756) designed roads using broken stones laid in symmetrical, tight patterns and covered with small stones to create a hard surface. McAdam discovered that the best stone or gravel for road surfacing had to be broken or crushed, and then graded to a constant size of chippings. John Loudon McAdam's design, called "macadam roads," provided the greatest advancement in road construction at the time.

The water bound Macadam roads were the forerunners of the bitumen-based binding that was to become tarmacadam. The word tarmacadam was shortened to the now familiar tarmac. The first tarmac road to be laid was in Paris in 1854.

The Colossus of Roads
Before John Loudon McAdam, road building was an expensive business.

John Loudon McAdam
Scottish inventor, John Loudon McAdam invented the macadam road surface.

Meet The Inventor - John Loudon McAdam
The form of pavement or road surface we now call "macadam" was invented about two hundred years ago by a Scot named John Loudon McAdam.

John Loudon McAdam
born Sept. 21, 1756 , Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland
died Nov. 26, 1836 , Moffat, Dumfriesshire

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