University students dig into history and significance of red brick road

PULLMAN, WA - A group of Washington State University students spent their spring semester investigating the history of Pullman's red brick roads.

The brick-paved roads extending from the corner of Palouse and Maple street in Pullman may be a bumpy inconvenience for cars. But these roads led a group of Washington State University students on a journey through Pullman's history.

"100 years ago, this was the main route to get up to campus," said WSU student Robert Franklin.

"Also, it was essential in the growth and development of the city of Pullman and the college," said Eystad.

The bricks replaced a dirt road that led to a hospital, churches, and the university. Brick was a more attractive, and safer option.

"Red brick was used on the sections that had a high slope to gain traction for horses," said Franklin.

This road was paved in July of 1913, and the students say there's a reason why it's lasted for almost a century.

"These bricks are a type of brick called vitrified brick, which is actually resistant to weather and chemical corrosion," said Eystad.

"In my research, I looked at a lot of stuff from brick manufacturers, and a lot of these things are advertising, 'Chose brick, it lasts a lifetime,' said Franklin. "You know, a lot like you'd see advertisements today."

At one point, the city made an unsuccessful attempt to cover the bricks.

"The asphalt that the city put down in the sixties had to be removed by the eighties, and those bricks are still there," said Franklin.

The students hope the roads are preserved so future generations can learn about their significance.

"All of the buildings here are red brick," said Franklin. "Red brick is a symbol of Pullman and so I think that draws a fascinating link from the roads to the school and the larger community."

"It's a cool portion of Pullman's history, and a really good peek into the past," said Eystad.

The College Hill Association has named the roads "The Historic Star Route," and the students' research will help the organization put the route on the Pullman register for historic places.