Friday, May 13, 2016

Paving Paradise

In the summer of 1926, Coffeyville, Kansas was supplying massive quantities of its vitrified brick to Florida cities. Getting the pavers to Tampa was no easy feat due to a railroad embargo:

"Coffeyville bricks were shipped by the train-loads to Florida, to be used in paving the streets that are enjoying a rapid growth. The bricks, 3,250 tons, or 811,500, were manufactured in the plant of the Coffeyville Vitrified Brick and Tile Company here, [and] left Coffeyville by two trains, bound for Texas City, Texas, where the material was transferred to a boat leased by the Company, and was transported by water to Tampa, Florida. The first train contained twenty-nine cars; and were routed over the Missouri Pacific."(1)

Vitrified bricks were touted by their manufacturers as being impervious to freeze-thaw cycles, heat and humidity, excessive weight and tire chains. Beginning in 1927, the National Paving Brick Manufacturers' Association in Chicago advertised heavily in regional newspapers (below) and published The A.B.C.s of Good Paving in order to promote the product's assets. Frugal municipalities envisioned the cost savings.

Hattiesburg and Wiggins, Mississippi implemented vitrified brick pavers on their streets. Brownwood, Texas paved some 42 miles with it in 1928.(2)

The Florida Land Boom brought large quantities of the product into the state. In 1924, Kansas State Agricultural College landscape gardening professor William S. Wiedorn relocated to St. Petersburg, Florida. The street where he lived is still paved in vitrified brick.

(1)"From the Sunflower State." Anita Record 1 July 1926.

(2)"Hitting a New Peak." Brownwood Bulletin 5 October 1928.

Images above:  Ebay; Advertisement. New Castle News 16 November 1927; Advertisement The Charleston Gazette 11 April 1928.

2 comments:

Thomas Rosell said...

Great post! The brick in Wiggins and Hattiesburg came from Coffeeville? I know Biloxi had some vitrified brick paved streets. Cannot recall where they came from off the top of my head. You can see the brick pavers in this 1963(?) image of Dr. Gilbert Mason's arrest after the last wade-in.

http://thumbs.media.smithsonianmag.com//filer/Dr-Gilbert-Mason-police-escort-Biloxi-Mississippi-court-2.jpg__600x0_q85_upscale.jpg

Keli Rylance said...

I am not sure where the Wiggins and Hattiesburg vitrified brick came from -- I noticed some announcements in newspapers and trade mags where clients specify "Coffeyville" bricks "or other suitable" sort of thing. We'd have to see them.

That is a great photo! They look like they are different than the V.B. & T. ones -- but would have to see a high res image or a sample of the brick to be sure.