May 09

Milestones in Concrete Construction

We thought we would take a trip into the past to find out some of the major milestones in the history of concrete construction. After all, how can we appreciate the technologies we have today, without knowing the work that countless individuals have contributed to this industry by giving their lives, passion and vision to better our world. The timeline below is by no mean everything but covers some of the most important milestones.

12,000,000 BC – It turns out that cement compounds can be found as a result of a natural process where limestone came in contact with oil shale in a process of spontaneous combustion. It was discovered in Israel.

5600 BC – First form of concrete discovered in Europe in the region of the Danube River in Yugoslavia. It was used to make floors in stone age huts providing a major upgrade in the quality of life for hunters and gatherers.

3000 BC – First known use of concrete-like material in China with the building of the Great Wall. Made from a mix of sand, pottery shards, bones and water, this cement was greenish-black.

Egyptian pyramid

2500 BC – The practice of binding bricks using mud mixed with straw appears. The addition of lime and gypsum mortar to the process can be seen in the Pyramids in Egypt.

800 BC – The first use of bitumen (a.k.a. asphalt), a semi-solid form of petroleum that can bind stones with bricks is credited to the Babylonians and Assyrians.

600 BC – Use of the first concrete that can harden under water and in the air was made by the Greeks, thanks to the discovery of pozzuolana (a.k.a. pozzolan or calcined lime) on the Island of Santorini.

Roman Colosseum

82 AD – The Colosseum in Rome is completed using tons of Roman concrete which bears no resemblance whatsoever to Portland cement, since it is never in a plastic state and is more like cemented rubble made by manually packing mortar around stones of various sizes.

AFTER 400 AD – With the fall of the Roman Empire, the art of concrete is lost for almost 1300 years, reverting to lime based mortars and concrete.

1756-1796 – Multiple patents are filed in England for hydraulic cement (stucco), hydraulic lime etc.

1825 – Creation of the Erie Canal launching the need for cement in the United States using hydraulic lime.

1828 – First application of Portland cement used to seal breaches in the Thames Tunnel.

1850s – Building of the first concrete roads in Austria, England, other European countries and the US.

1850-1880 – French builder, Francois Coignet popularizes the use of concrete in construction.

1856 – First patent filed for the use of reinforcement in concrete using iron bars and wire mesh in small rowboats by French gentleman farmer named Jean-Louis Lambot.

1891 – First concrete streets built in the US, in Ohio.

1904 – First concrete skyscraper is built in Cincinnati, Ohio.

1905 – The National Association of Cement users is created, which will later become the American Concrete Institute.

1911 – Shotcrete is invented, allowing for the first time placement of concrete on vertical or horizontal planes.

1913 – The first concrete pump patent is filed.

1936 –  The Hoover Dam and the Grand Coulee Dam, are the first concrete dams built.

1970s – The first fiber reinforced concrete appears on the market.

1983 –  Invention of Syndecrete™, a light weight concrete that combined cement with recycled materials such as coal fly ash (a byproduct of coal plants) with polypropolene fiber to provide reinforcement (from carpet manufacturers). The finished product is used in kitchen countertops, tile flooring and more.

1985 – Introduction of silica fumes or micro silica into cement to produce the strongest concrete with very low permeability.

1995 –  Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) are being introduced to build homes and to hold concrete, providing greater insulation (temperature and sound) than common stud walls.

Concrete pumping has grown to become a vast industry that keeps expanding its boundaries, and possibilities. Looking back over the timeline, it is interesting to see that French and British have contributed a great deal to the progress of concrete in construction and Ohio leads the way in the US! So, it isn’t surprising that the American Concrete Pumping Association is based in Ohio!

Stay tuned for a future article on newer developments in the world of concrete and what the future of concrete holds. Until then, if you are looking for a great deal on a concrete pump for your next job, why don’t you give us a call at (503)283-2105. With over 40 years of experience in the industry, we can help you solve challenges and work within your budget. We always love to hear from you.

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