Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 90.djvu/132

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A Wooden Boulevard Over the Desert

Building a board road across the shifting sands of a west- em desert to provide a thoroughfare for the automobile

��WHATEVER may be the mystical charm of a desert, with its great golden stretches, its silences and mir- ages, it certainly is not conducive to "big business" except to writers of romance and to camel-breeders. In the United States a desert is simply a bad place on the route that must be traversed, and as such places mean inconvenience and delay, they would have to be covered with something having a more valuable glitter than sand to have any hold on popular regard.

Between the imperial irrigation dis- trict and Yuma, Arizona, the sand is so fine and dry that when a handful is

���Above: The kind of truck used to haul the track sections from the lumber yards to their destination

��picked up, it trickles out of the closed fist like the grains in an hour glass. Imagine, then, the difhculty of traveling over this country in a heavy vehicle, and especially in an automobile. But the signifi- cant fact is that the state high- way runs through fifty miles of such sand.

Until the California Highway Commission found a way to com- bat the sand, it was risky for an automobile to travel over this dan- gerous route. Six miles of portable

���plank roadway have now been constructed through the worst sections of this desert. This roadway, eight feet wide, with double- width turnouts every one thousand feet, consists of four-inch planks solidly spiked to stringers underneath, steel strips one and one-half inches wide by one-fourth inch thick, one-half inch carriage bolts, and nuts and washers to unite the stringers.

An overhead tramway was utilized to handle the lumber to build the roadway. Several hundred feet of trolley with triplex chain blocks were provided to pick up the completed units, built on three construc- tion tables in the lumber yard, and later

to load them on the wagons for hauling to the work. Ten-horse teams were often used. Each load contained nine units, and the average haul was seven miles.

The venture has proved a complete success.

��A light plank road was previously used, but as the sand was constantly shifting such a road was al- most as dangerous as none at all. It was soon seen that if automobiles were to be used the roadway must be stabilized

���The venture has turned out successfully. Heavy loads drawn by any number of teams, as well as automo- biles may now cross the desert with comparative ease


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