DeKALB – The DeKalb County Highway Department’s newest machine is not all that new.
County Engineer Nathan Schwartz unveiled a roughly 100-year-old road grader Wednesday that will be displayed outside his office along Barber Greene Road. The refurbished machine was donated to the county by Mayfield Township, which had the outdated grader in its inventory.
Schwartz called the antique machine a neat piece of history that illustrates how far road improvement technology has come over the years. The grader on display shaped gravel roads during a time when speed limits were between 15 and 30 mph. With only about an 8-foot blade, the grader would have been twice as slow and far less efficient than modern graders, Schwartz said.
“This was the workhorse back then,” he said. “Grading a road with this equipment is much different than today.”
Graders, which help shape and smooth road surfaces, are now motorized and feature 12- to 14-foot blades, which make the work much faster, Schwartz said. The graders of a century ago often had to be pulled by tractors or horses.
Even though the grader is outdated, Paul Mollet, Mayfield Township highway commissioner, said some of the farmers would still use it from time to time. But after having it stored away the past few years, Mollet said he wanted to preserve it rather than trash it.
“It’s a part of our history,” he said. “I think it’s important.”
Schwartz said his staff did all of the refurbishing, including the green-and-red paint job. He said he hopes it can be on display for county residents for the next 100 years.
“I see this being here long term,” he said. “We’re proud of it.”