UPDATED: 5-27-2010



This article appeared in the magazine The American City (Vol. XXV, No. 6) in 1921.

The photo was taken at the corner of Fifth and Market Streets, looking northward, in 1920, during the weeks when Parkersburg paved its downtown streets. John R. Kennedy’s Kennedy Construction Company, located at 215 Fourth Street, led the project. The city had built the iron “WELCOME” arch, wired with hundreds of lights, a dozen years earlier, in 1908, to welcome the Grand Council of the United Commercial Travelers, which held its convention in Parkersburg that year. The city removed the arch in 1927.

Paving Street Railway Areas and Heavy-Traffic Streets

Parkersburg, W.Va., Seeks Cooperation of Public Utilities in Reducing Pavement Openings

By William Kennedy, Executive Secretary, The Parkersburg Board of Commerce, located in the City Building at Fifth and Market

The city of Parkersburg, W.Va., has been going ahead vigorously with street paving improvements. Market Street, the main thoroughfare of the city, runs north and south. The Baltimore and Ohio Railway main line from St. Louis to New York is carried over the street by an overhead bridge.

Hitherto Market Street has carried a single track for street railway transportation with a half-block of double track for switching purposes opposite the City Hall. The new improvement, just finished, gives the street a double track from Third to Seventh Street. The car track area embraces, besides the space between the rails, a strip of 2 feet on the outside of either rail and is paved with 4-inch vitrified brick on a 9-inch concrete base with a 1-inch sand-cement cushion intervening. On either side of the street railway area, the street is finished with sheet asphalt on a concrete base. There are five blocks or squares in the improvement on Market Street with a width of 38 feet between curbs.

The grading, curbing, concrete base, brick surface and construction of storm water sewers and inlets were done by Kennedy Construction Company of Parkesburg, while the sheet asphalt was laid by the Federal Asphalt Paving Company, of Hamilton, Ohio. The entire improvement was completed in six weeks. About one month before paving started, all public utilities and plumbers began to renew their water, gas and sewer lines. To facilitate this work, one block was closed at a time and all interested parties were notified to make their renewals and installations of lines at one operation. After the first block was completed, another was opened, and so on, until the entire portion of the street to be improved was gone over carefully.

Koehring concrete mixers of the latest type were used. The brick was furnished by the Hocking Valley Brick Company, of Logan, Ohio. Atlas cement, Trinidad asphalt, Carey expansion joints, Ohio River sand and gravel, and asphalt sand from Sandusky, Ohio, were the materials used in the construction of the pavement. Steel rail was furnished by the Lorain Steel Company, and switches and other special track work by the Bethlehem Steel Company. Twin steel railway ties were used. The cost of the improvement, borne by the street railway company, the property owners and the city, is slightly over $45,000.

Single-track construction, identical with the foregoing, has recently been completed on Juliana Street and Seventh Street for a total distance of ten blocks. In connection with the improvement of these two streets the sides are to be resurfaced with two-and-a-half inches of sheet asphalt, using the present old brick paving as a foundation. This plan has been given a thorough test on other streets carrying heavy traffic—Fourth, Fifth, Avery Streets and others—and has given general satisfaction. The estimated cost of the paving on Juliana and Seventh Streets is about $56,000.

Plans and specifications for this work were drawn up by City Engineer Leland G. Merrill and carried out under his supervision.


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