Street Sweeping: Part of Terre Haute’s Glorious Past

Major Ralph Tucker, wearing his familiar white hat, accepted this street equipment in 1950. Major Ralph Tucker, wearing his familiar white hat, accepted this street equipment in 1950. In this first four days of operation, the sweeper cleaned 148 blocks of paved streets. Formerly sixteen men using eight trucks could clean only six blocks a day. Tucker served five terms, longer that any other major in the city's history. source: "On the Banks of the Wabash: A Photograph Album of Greater Terre Haute, 1900-1950".

Say what you want about former Terre Haute Mayor Ralph Tucker – looks like he kept the streets clean (and probably made sure the interurban ran on time).

These days, Terre Haute streets could use a good sweeping. What we’ve got a level above the asphalt is a lot of messy and potentially dangerous debris.

The city’s bike trail, touted by elected officials and other local boosters as an amenity that could help attract new business by showing our great quality of life, is flecked with wide patches of sand from last winter along its entire Ohio Boulevard stretch. Some are now layered with leaves, sticks and acorns. You might as well ride on the sidewalk.

On the new improved 13th Street, turn lanes onto both Davis and Springhill – main arteries to the south side retail corridor– have been strewn with white rock for months. Recently, these rocks also began to sprawl across the busy intersection of Brown and Wabash. Brown Avenue north of Wabash was carefully engineered to curve past the ISU stadium and slow traffic. The rocks and the large square hole that was carelessly filled with them are a more haphazard impediment.

Street cleaners are the city's unsung heroes. These two were at work one night in September 1946. Street cleaners are the city's unsung heroes. These two were at work one night in September 1946. Source: "On the Banks of the Wabash: A Photograph Album of Greater Terre Haute, 1900-1950".

Many other intersections on Wabash are in a similar state after a crew working out of a Joink truck laid cable for several blocks on the east side, probably to facilitate increased telecommunications traffic.

Automobile traffic is pretty old school, but it still has its purpose. Maybe the street department could step back even further in time: a push broom is technology Terre Haute can surely afford, and some of the city workers we see around town look as if they could use the exercise.

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