Past Treasure of the Month – January 2018

Historic Wood Paver from
Galveston’s Market Street
Wooden blocks like this one were used for paving Galveston’s Market Street in 1875. Wood was preferable to brick or cobblestone pavement in some areas because it was gentler for horses and wagons and produced less noise (gift of Kathleen Bracken).Wooden blocks like this one were used for paving Galveston’s Market Street in 1875.
Wood was preferable to brick or cobblestone pavement in some areas because
it was gentler for horses and wagons and produced less noise (gift of Kathleen Bracken).

During the month of January, Rosenberg Library exhibited an original wooden block used for paving Galveston’s Market Street during the 1870s. The block was a gift of Kathleen Bracken.

Paving Market Street

In 1874, Galveston’s Board of Aldermen began accepting bids for the paving of Market Street (Avenue D), one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares. One of the bids came from R.W. Trundy, owner of Galveston Creosoting Works, a manufacturer of railroad ties. He proposed using yellow-pine pavers treated with creosote for the project.

Creosote is a substance derived from the distillation of coal and wood tar. It functioned as a preservative to make lumber more resistant to pressure and water and was most commonly used for railroad and marine applications.

Several Alderman had reservations about whether the newly patented process was effective and if would be adequate for heavy traffic. Although creosoted wood paving was common in the northern United States at the time, it was not widely used in the South. In the end, the Board voted to approve the use of creosoted wood pavement. These pavers lasted until the early 1900s when Market Street was re-paved. This time, brick was the pavement of choice throughout the city, and the creosoted wooden blocks were removed. One of the blocks was salvaged and marked with an identifying plaque in 1909. It is now preserved in the museum collection at the Rosenberg Library.