Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Corduroy Road

Man building raised bed

corduroy road noun
1995 Weber Rugged Hills 83 When the ground was flat, it was hard for the team to pull the logs. So we made what we called a corduroy road. We cut a bunch of short, small logs about 6 to 8 inches in diameter and laid them on the ground about 2 foot apart. They acted like rollers.

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English

The Deer Hunter used a similar method to move the logs he cut for our raised beds. Neither I nor the girls were strong enough to help him carry them, but we could manage pushing them across smaller tree lengths to get them closer to where we needed them.

Tipper

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Larry Blanchard
    May 6, 2020 at 1:20 pm

    When I was living outside of Manassas, I found an old corduroy road in the woods. It was logs laid crosswise right up next to each other. Went on for at least 100 yards, although the logs were quite rotten and degraded. I’d never heard of what you describe being called corduroy. I suspect it’s an expansion of the meaning of the word.
    P.S. One of the local historians told me the remnants that I’d found were from the Revolutionary War – built by Washington’s troops!

  • Reply
    Quinn
    April 21, 2020 at 3:10 pm

    I’m familiar with the term “corduroy” from trail-making in the woods and on wildlife sanctuaries. I used to lay logs crossways on a trail through a wet area. It was a short-term solution for getting through a frequently-traveled muddy section and a long-term way to slowly fill in the low spots so they’d be less mucky in the future.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 16, 2020 at 8:01 pm

    I just now realized what you are talking about. You used short pieces of smaller logs to roll larger logs across. We used to do that all the time when we cut firewood, etc. One of us would put a pull rope around the log and pull while another person would keep putting “rollers” in front and picking them up as the log cleared them. Two people can move some pretty big timber this way. We even did that when we had a draft horse if a log was in a hard place to get it out, like when they rolled down over the road bank.
    When we were through the rollers were firewood too.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    April 16, 2020 at 6:05 pm

    Like John T. I’ve seen Corduroy Roads where the logs were lain against each other to cross areas where the ground was to soft or wet to pack down into a usable road . Sometimes a section would have a shorter log with logs pegged down by driving sections of even shorter sections driven into the ground at each end of these logs basically locking the sections together. I’ve seen Corduroy Roads used on old logging roads while I hunted in areas which were logged decades ago.

  • Reply
    harry adams
    April 16, 2020 at 4:12 pm

    My 4 or 5th grade primer was “Singing Wheels” It was set in pioneer days and one section talked about the stage coach travelling over a corduroy road – logs placed next to each other and dirt filled in between. The dirt would wash out and make the road rough. When I read the title I thought of the book. I think this school book is why I like old tools and such.

  • Reply
    Gina Smith
    April 16, 2020 at 2:01 pm

    If you were laying yourself or the camera on the road to get that shot I’d say you were risking more than the girls. Hahaha

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 16, 2020 at 11:44 am

    I’ve never heard of a corduroy road before. It sounds like a pretty smart ( and inexpensive) solution. I have heard that necessity is the mother of invention all my life but didn’t realize they were talking about our families that were here before us.
    They didn’t have much money but they sure were resourceful with what was available to them and they were a lot smarter than they were given credit for.

  • Reply
    Melissa P. (Misplaced Southerner)
    April 16, 2020 at 11:26 am

    This practice is as old as prehistoric times. I was lucky enough to go to Florida State University’s London program. I was always fascinated by Stonehenge. While I was in England, I was able to do quite a bit of study on-site and with anthropology professors. The ancients used log rollers to get those giant stones all the way from the seashore to their final location in the middle of Salisbury Plain. I also read that they moved the stones for the pyramids in the same fashion. We humans can be ingenious when we really want to do something.

  • Reply
    john t
    April 16, 2020 at 11:07 am

    Up here in my neck of the woods, roads constructed years ago in soft spots or thru bogs had corduroy logs pushed down in to the road bed for stability. Sometimes the spring frost would push the corduroy wood up, even through the black top. I am a retired Highway Superintendent and back in the day was a motor grader operator and while blading the “washboards” off the gravel roads I would occasionally hook in to the corduroy if the frost pushed them up or the gravel base was thin.

  • Reply
    Gigi
    April 16, 2020 at 10:56 am

    I didn’t know what this was, now i do. My dad had done this along parts of our road. I guess to help from getting washed away. When it rain, there would be gullie washers and wash parts of the roads out. This help some but not always. God Bless Tipper

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 16, 2020 at 10:11 am

    When I was growing up most of the roads in our part of the county were gravel. On hills graveled roads have a tendency to develop little grooves across them. The steeper the grade the deeper the grooves. Whenever they appeared, folks would dodge to one side or the other to avoid them until the whole road was like that. Then if you wanted to get through in either direction you had to cross these earth shaking, eye opening, teeth rattling monsters. Once, and if we were lucky twice, a year the county grader would come and scrape up then smooth down the gravel. That lead to smooth sailing for a week or two then the road demons would start to raise their little heads again.
    Corduroy cloth have little ridges like that on it so we called the bigger version a corduroy road. I don’t know who came up with it but it stuck in my mind to this day. When I read the title of today’s blog I was sure that was what you would be talking about. Wrong!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    April 16, 2020 at 8:31 am

    I found one of these, or rather the remnants of one, in the north Georgia mountains about 30 years ago. I got to noticing the creek banks were rather square and straight and the creek bed was rather wide for the water volume. At first I just though it was odd but then I noticed remains of wooden poles laid crossways of the channel and I realized I was looking at a corduroy road.

    Until this post, however, I had always considered a corduroy road to be continuously covered with wood. I had not thought of the cross members being widely spaced but that was actually what I saw. It makes a lot more sense that way. Thanks.

    I think the Deer Hunter is inventive. He will figure out a solution to a problem using available natural materials and tools, power and technology on hand. That is just what those farmers, loggers, miners, teamsters, etc did back in the day. And they were not at all intimidated by hard physical work. They did not discount human power.

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      April 16, 2020 at 10:59 am

      I would call what you found a pole bridge. They are good way cross a creek that borders a pasture without a gate. Cows will not cross them.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    April 16, 2020 at 8:05 am

    I didn’t know what a corduory road was but I have made one or two in my life. Now I know what to call them.
    Back several years ago when I cut a lot of firewood, I took with me a cant hook to move logs around. You can move large logs with a cant hook, cant dog.

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