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The Flattenator: 1925

Washington, D.C., circa 1925. "Crawford Paving Co." Steamroller made by Barber Asphalt Paving of Buffalo, N.Y. National Photo glass negative. View full size.

Washington, D.C., circa 1925. "Crawford Paving Co." Steamroller made by Barber Asphalt Paving of Buffalo, N.Y. National Photo glass negative. View full size.


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Terra Cotta Pipe Sections

The ones divided into six sections, known as a "six-way clay conduit," are used for running telephone & telegraph wires underground. I happen to live in the house of a man who made a good living in the manufacture of them. One of his largest customers was Western Electric. These conduits are responsible for helping clean up the tangle of overhead wires - seen in many of Shorpy's early street views - by taking them below ground and out of sight. As a side note, his factory would sell the second quality conduits to many of the farmers and residents around town who would use them to build garages & outbuildings, many of which still stand today.

Re: Where in D.C.?

From another Crawford Paving photo, here's that siloish building seen above. With ROSSLYN spelled out across the top. Click to enlarge. Maybe near the White Dome shortening plant.

Where in D.C.?

Anybody have any ideas where this is? The building in the distance with the semicircular roofline is a real curiosity -- looks a bit like a grain elevator. Also suggestive of an observatory of some type. Very strange to see an arched metal roof in the pre-Quonset hut era. There is also a "jog" in the street in the distance suggesting a public square or bridge.

[There is one last photo on this series that may contain a clue. I'll post it later tonight. - Dave]

Dave, your tease! I'm tingling with excitement in anticipation.

Alias M.I.L.

Also known as "the mother-in-law."


Looks a bit like Betsy in Disney's "Cars" to me. No power steering in those days, just muscle and then some. There's a thriving steam scene over here in Britain where all sorts of people restore and show these sort of machines. Quite a sight when there are hundreds all together!

Their good luck fell out!

Didn't Barber know that you're supposed the put the horseshoe with the open end up, to keep the good luck from spilling out?

Also note the terra cotta pipe sections on the left. Standard plumbing fare in the 1920s.

[They look like chimney liners. - Dave]

23-Point Turns

I've used the term "steam roller" my whole life to describe modern road flattening machines, but this is the first time I've actually seen one powered by steam. I love how the crankshaft is right out there in the open, ready to mangle an arm or two. Does that chain connected to the steering wheel provide some sort of power assist? With that screw gear steering system, it was probably quite a job to change direction even while moving.

External Drive

Interesting that the drive train, including the cylinders, is external to the body. And with direct gear drive to the wheel! Sorta kinda similar to a Shay locomotive.

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