Did you know that John Loudon McAdam was born today in 1756? He was a Scottish civil engineer. At the time, roads were either dirt and mud paths or made with very large and very expensive stone slabs; both kinds of roads easily broke and fell apart. McAdam developed a way to build roads out of rocks and crushed gravel that was inexpensive to build and maintain, and more durable as well. His method worked so well, it quickly spread throughout the world.
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Traditionally John Loudon McAdam’s family name was actually McGregor, but it was changed during the 1600’s.
John Loudon McAdam wrote two books on road building: Remarks on the Present System of Road-Making and Practical Essay on the Scientific Repair and Preservation of Roads.
The process John Loudoun McAdam created for constructing roads is known as macadamisation. The raised and slightly convex shape of the road allowed for good drainage and the materials needed greatly simplified the process of building and maintaining the road. His process led to the modernization of road building and has been called one of the greatest advancements since Roman technology was introduced.
The word ‘tarmac’ is short for tarmacadam, a macadamized road bound together with tar.