Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with James H. Havens, April 28, 2010

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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MILLER: This is Mardi Miller, M-a-r-d-i, Miller, M-i-l-l-e-r.

WHAYNE: And this is Laura Whayne, L-a-u-r-a W-h-a-y-n-e.

MILLER: And, uh, we are here today interviewing--

HAVENS: James H. Havens, J-a-m-e-s H. H-a-v-e-n-s.

MILLER: And we are in Lexington, Kentucky, at, uh, the Haven home on Sweetwater Court. Um, today is, um, April 28, um, and this is part of the UK Kentucky Transportation Center Oral History Project. Um, Mr. Havens, what is, um, your most recent position, um, that you held in 00:01:00transportation and the organization's name?

HAVENS: I can't remember whether it was, uh, assistant director or, or associate director--assistant or associate director. Anyway, uh, in the transition from the highway department to UK, uh, I did not have an advanced degree, and they resisted, uh, my continuing as the head of the thing--Bob Deen was chosen. He had a Ph.D. from, uh, Purdue and a very, uh, competent fellow.

MILLER: What was the name of the organization at that time then?

HAVENS: Uh, specifically--I'm sorry?


MILLER: It's okay.

WHAYNE: This is the University of Kentucky? Was it at the University of Kentucky?

HAVENS: Oh, yes. Transportation Research Program.

MILLER: Okay. Thank you. And, um, it was located on the University of Kentucky campus at that time when you were--

HAVENS: Well, it was across the Limestone Street. What is it?

MILLER: Whalen or--

WHAYNE: Yeah. It's now the Whalen Building.

HAVENS: Yes. But it was then 137 South Limestone Street.

WHAYNE: Something like that.

HAVENS: 40515--40505?

WHAYNE: Yeah. (laughs)

MILLER: And, um, you're retired now. Is that correct? And what year did you retire?

HAVENS: I believe it was 1987.

MILLER: And what year did you first become involved in transportation in Kentucky?

HAVENS: That would be 1946.


MILLER: Can you tell us about, uh, what--where you started and some of the things you did at that time?

HAVENS: Yes, I can. Um, I was released from the service in, uh, November 1945. I went to the university and enrolled in the graduate school as, uh, in the chemistry department. [bells chiming] And I stayed in the dormitory at UK and I had a roommate then who was, um, a student also, but he was working part-time in what was called the Highway Laboratory on Graham Avenue. The, uh, person in charge there 00:04:00was, uh, Lowell Gregg who died within the past year. Um, he was, uh, in business for himself in Lexington for many years, and, uh, he, uh, well, he decided to leave, uh, state employment there. We were employed by the state highway department, and, uh, D.V. Terrell, Dean D.V. Terrell was, uh, was actually the chief, uh, uh, in charge of the Highway Laboratory which is on--did I say 132 Graham Avenue? Um, I 00:05:00really admired D.V. Terrell. He was a very down-to-earth person. He had a way with young men, uh, really. I shared on office there with him after he retired as Dean of the College of Engineering.

MILLER: So while you were a student there at UK, you worked over in the lab then also?

HAVENS: Yes, and, uh, one of the, one of the first things that I did was analyze Limestone, Limestone, uh, and I--there was a fellow over in, uh, the mines and minerals--no, no. I'm telling you wrong. It's 00:06:00not--but, uh, metallurgy, and he had a, had a, um, laboratory in, uh, a little square building there outside the quadrangle, um, up on the second floor. I don't, I don't think that building is there now. I went, I took my samples and went and worked with him for, uh, quite a long time while I was still going to school to--anyway, um, what I did was I thought it was very practical and proved to be very helpful later because we developed, uh, procedures for evaluating the quality of--and 00:07:00durability of concrete, uh, by freeze and thaw and by outside exposure. Now that's a whole story all by itself because that was the beginning of, of work later where we sampled all the quarries in the state that were furnishing limestone aggregate to the state, and, uh, that, uh, it--that eventually proved quite thoroughly that, uh, the insoluble residue of most limestones, if it was over two or three percent, it 00:08:00was an indication of a rather, uh, absorptive, uh, aggregate which meant that the concrete, if it was exposed to freezing weather--(clears throat)--got saturated and froze then it ruptured. We developed a procedure also for, uh, measuring the modulus of elasticity by flexure. Well, let's go on then.

MILLER: Um, I was just curious. The samples that you analyzed, did you go out in the field and across the state at that time or were those things just brought in for you to analyze?

HAVENS: Well, we had geologists working in the laboratory. They went 00:09:00and got them. I went with some of them and got some of it and, uh, with them because I, I wasn't, uh, competent in geology in any way then, but they were great.

WHAYNE: Do you remember the name of the person, um, in the metallurgy section that you worked with?

HAVENS: Yes. Now let me think. Um, Tommy Kendall.

MILLER: Um, and I suppose that that--those experiences in the metallurgy lab and the work you did, uh, and then of course your studies probably led you into other opportunities, uh, and other research for transportation in Kentucky. Do you remember, do you recall some of 00:10:00those other projects that you worked on?

HAVENS: Yes. Uh, we, uh, sampled the red Mississippian soils in southern Kentucky and in Tennessee and Georgia and so forth and, uh, other--(clears throat)--like clay minerals in Eastern Kentucky mostly in sandstones. Those proved to be illite, i-l-l-i-t-e. Uh, the red soils, uh, I seem to remember were, uh, turned out to be montmorillinites. Um, I forget the name of the other clay minerals. Anyway, uh, we did those by x-ray defraction.


MILLER: And after you graduated, um, then what was, what position did you--did you continue on with the metallurgy lab then after graduating?

HAVENS: No. Now I did not graduate.

MILLER: Oh. Okay.

HAVENS: I, uh, got so involved in the, in the highway, uh, research that, that I just went full-time there and stayed.

MILLER: Uh-huh.

HAVENS: Others went away, but, uh, in nineteen and, uh, in 1957 or something like that, Lowell Gregg left the Highway Laboratory then and, uh, W.B. Drake was appointed in charge of the lab, but D.V. Terrell 00:12:00was still the director and Dean Terrell was then retired, too. Um, subsequently, Bill Drake was offered a job as assistant state highway engineer in Frankfort, and I became the director of research. I think that's right.

WHAYNE: Was the Highway Materials Lab--

HAVENS: That's it.

WHAYNE: Okay. Was that part of the University of Kentucky or was that part of the department of highways?


HAVENS: Let me tell you.

WHAYNE: How did that--

HAVENS: That started, um, before World War II, and, uh, the, the highway department had the buildings for construction and this was D.V. Terrell principally. Uh, and, uh, the building was, uh, during the war it sat kind of idle and then after, after V.J. Day, I guess it was, uh, Dean Terrell attempted to revive it and, uh, and got Lowell Gregg from Purdue to come and be the--in charge of the work. Um, let 00:14:00me see. He brought a, uh, Lowell Gregg hired a fellow from, uh, um, Ohio State University, Robert F. Baker, I believe. Robert, Robert F. Baker, um, who was mostly a soils engineer, and, uh, they did what they called a pumping study. That was when the problem was concrete pavements, jointed concrete pavements, and the corners would, uh, sink down when a load went over them and it would squirt water out the 00:15:00edge. That made a cavity under the, um, under the pavement. Well, there was, the idea was that there were certain soils that were more amenable to pumping than others, and Robert F. Baker and, uh, Lowell Gregg, well, they worked together on that. And that went on for two or three years. That was, uh, was a study, uh, supported largely by the Federal Highway Administration, which was not the Federal Highway Administration then. It was the Bureau of Public Roads. I didn't know 00:16:00I could remember all of that. (Miller laughs) Wow.

WHAYNE: You said you became the director of the laboratory. Do you remember what year that was? Is that right?

HAVENS: Fifty--1957 comes to my mind.

WHAYNE: All right.

MILLER: Do you recall who was governor at that time? That Bill Drake was appointed state highway engineer and--?

HAVENS: No. I can't. You can check that, though, but, uh, I was trying to remember the, who was governor when I started--got employed there in 1946. And he was from Ashland. He was a Republican, but his name won't come to mind.

WHAYNE: We can look it up.


HAVENS: Uh, now this is an endless story actually, and, uh, well, let me jump ahead then. The commissioner of highways, sometime in the sixties--oh, we managed the road school.

WHAYNE: Can you describe what that was exactly?

HAVENS: Well, it was--I believe it's still going but I'm not sure--you know, county road people were invited. They had speakers from numerous 00:18:00educational, um--oh. Henry, uh--who was highway commissioner?

WHAYNE: Was that Henry Ward?

HAVENS: Henry Ward, sometime around 1968--(clears throat)--whenever he came in, he had in mind a program that he was going to properly house the highway department in the state of Kentucky and did. [bells chiming] And he decided that, uh, if we were going to have an office in, on the university campus, uh, that we couldn't be dep-, independent of it, of the university. So he decided to build a new laboratory, and 00:19:00that was across the street. What--you called the name of the building a while ago. I forget what it is.

MILLER: Whalen?

WHAYNE: I think it's the Whalen Building now.

HAVENS: Whalen Building? Anyway, we moved into that in 1969, and an interesting thing about it was it was a slum and, uh, but he bought all of the property across, between the two streets back so far except on the corner of Limestone and, uh--you'll have to name the street. Uh, anyway, there was a Texaco service station there, and I told Mr. Ward, "If you don't buy that building, it's going to look like they're 00:20:00occupying our premises." So he didn't talk to me about it at all. He just said, you know, "It's done." So he was a good man to have on your side back then. So we moved in in January of--or not January. Whew-- 1969, and it was about that time that our, our budget reached a million dollars. And we employed, like, thirty-five people, more or less, for the next eleven years.

MILLER: Do you recall, um, some of the people you worked with at that 00:21:00time? Names of people who were there?

HAVENS: I can name a lot of them.

MILLER: Uh-huh.

HAVENS: I was telling you about Robert F. Baker. He, um, went back to--no--he went to West Virginia and went there with the idea of, of, uh, being in a university and teaching, uh, soil mechanics and, uh, and worked for the highway department. He went on from there to be the Director of Research for the then Bureau of Public Roads. He did a marvelous job at that, and he was in Washington then. I was trying to 00:22:00think of some other interesting people, and I'll think of them tonight while I'm--

MILLER: (laughs) Do you recall, maybe, people who were in--was there a Kentucky division office as opposed to the Bureau of Public Roads? Do you recall some of the people that were in the Kentucky office at that time?

HAVENS: Yes. The one fellow that impressed me most I can't--if you'd name them, do the names, I could tell you, but no. I can't call it to mind.

MILLER: That's fine.

HAVENS: Uh, we worked very close with the Bureau of Public Roads then 00:23:00and, of course, they had final approval of our annual work program and of course we had two, uh, we had separate, um, programs: the, what we called a participating program and the non-participating program. The non-participating program in some cases, uh, gave me and the people on my staff an opportunity to do investigative work, uh, for, um, the highway department offices in the highway department that didn't have the expertise to do that, and we even had a part of the work 00:24:00program which said, you know, This is to take care of emergencies, contingencies, I guess. I got to the point there where I could receive a call in my office that a bridge burned down in, um, Paintsville this afternoon, we need a report on it before morning. I would get a report by nine o' clock the next morning, um, and they did a lot of that just to be helpful. (laughs) And, you know, the people in Frankfort were so, um--well, I don't know how to describe it--they began to respect 00:25:00us and, and things that we could do. Um, it was, it was very, uh, satisfying to me to, uh, to be able to do the things that, that nobody else could do.

MILLER: Uh-huh.

HAVENS: You know.

MILLER: Can you give us, uh, any other examples or participating programs or non-participating?

HAVENS: Well, Bob Deen was, uh--after we moved across Limestone Street there we had several landslides, property landslides, and, uh, we, uh, 00:26:00felt like that we could, uh, develop a, uh, an engineering, uh, approach to stability of earth embankments, which we did on a computer. It's, it was sort of a trial and error thing. I would put in solutions, and it would tell you what the results were. Well, we put in enough solutions that we could graph the output of the thing, and it would tell us what the stability of that particular structure was. Now, Bob Deen was, by and large, the--and speaking of Bob Dean, while we were still on Graham Avenue, Bob Deen decided to go to Purdue and, uh, get 00:27:00his doctor's degree. He had a master's degree, I believe. Well, I encouraged him to go and, uh, which he did. It took him a couple of years, and I told him, I assured him, at least, that he would have a job when he got back. Anyway, he and Herb Southgate, um--well, Herb, Herb did all of the computer work, I think, but it was a tremendous amount of work actually. Back then we had, uh, in order to do computer 00:28:00programming you had to have a, um--what do you call them? The card system? And, uh, we had to take the cards to Frankfort and get the cards printed, punched in Frankfort, bring them back to the university and run them through their computer. (laughs) So we had an account with the, uh, um, computer people at UK, and of course they charged us for it at Frankfort, too, but we felt secure in asking them to do the key punch. Well, we solved a lot of landslide problems. I don't know whether it is, what the status of that science is now, um, but a lot 00:29:00of times we would do, do work even like that and when we reported it to the Federal Highway Administration, uh, sometimes they would supersede it because they had somebody else working on it, too. Uh, and I don't know how all of that materialized, but, um, they, they would support research, uh, I think to, uh, um, and then select the best solution that they thought. Anyway, um, let me tell you about something while we were still on Graham Avenue, Lowell Gregg was there. The division 00:30:00of design in Frankfort, uh, asked us to, um, help them with rainfall intensity data. We got data, years of data from the weather bureau. We analyzed, uh, all of the data and produced a manual to help the engineers, um, determine the proper size of culverts, um, bridges. Um, 00:31:00it was a system known as the intensity duration, intensity-duration approach. It was--the theory was that if there was a drainage area here and the culvert is--well, let me put the culvert down here. The drainage area spreads out and this is the top and the most remote point. In the, the time that it takes a drop of water falling from the most remote point in the drainage basin to get to the culvert is, 00:32:00uh, related to the intensity and duration of the water falling on the, uh, on the area. So you're thinking, uh, like the maximum amount of intensity-duration for Fayette County was six inches of rainfall in six minutes. That's, that was a hundred-year storm. Now we did that for the state of Kentucky, and the manual then, the drain-, the Total Drainage Manual was, uh--grew out of that and we printed it up and 00:33:00stacked it up and carried it to practice. I didn't have much to do with that. There was an engineer. His name was--well, we called him "Tiny" Sammons, S-a-m-m-o-n-s. I can't think of his given name right now--and Eugene West [bells chiming] were principal workers on that, and that was a big thing. Well, uh--well, let's go on from when we 00:34:00moved into the--no. Excuse me. Oh, after the, uh, landslide, um, project was--excuse me. I'm trying to remember, um, what was going on, you know, while that, uh, uh, project on landslides was going on.

MILLER: Uh-huh.

HAVENS: Hmm. Prompt me.

MILLER: Well, can you recall, like, during the time they were developing the interstate highway system maybe how you were involved or your 00:35:00research was used for those?

HAVENS: Well, we weren't involved in any way in the, um, idea of, of the interstate. That was President Eisenhower's, uh, idea, and he justified it on the, on the possibility that if--in time of war, if necessary, we'll use them for airplane landing and, uh, and something else. But, uh, I--oh, during, uh, what was called the gasoline shortage, fuel shortage--I, uh, lost my train of thought. I was 00:36:00looking at a goose out there in the field. (laughs)

MILLER: Uh, you were mentioning the fuel shortage and had just talked about the, um, the development of the interstate highway system.


MILLER: Or we can move on. It's okay.

WHAYNE: Yeah. What about the, did it have anything to do with the development of the Kentucky parkway system? Was there any research associated with the parkways?

HAVENS: There were, there were, uh--the parkway thing was a, was set apart and, and--done mostly by consultants. Um, it's, it's hard to, 00:37:00uh--officially we had nothing to do with the, with the, uh, interstate program and the parkway program, but when the, a problem occurred, we were called in. But, um--

MILLER: What, uh, what are some of the biggest changes that you've seen, I guess maybe from a researcher's standpoint then, um, some of the biggest changes you've seen in transportation over the years from the time you began to retirement?

HAVENS: Well, I can't be very objective in that because I still get a, a, uh, flier from the Federal Highway Administration on what--on 00:38:00their research program, and, uh, yes, I'm interested enough to read it. Um, I don't understand some of the things that they're talking about. I'd have to be more practical than they are, so it's, I think there's applied research and then there's, um, academic research.

MILLER: Uh-huh.

HAVENS: But that gets, gets in controversy. But, uh, I remember one time I was, uh, at a convention of, uh--I don't remember what kind of a convention it was. Traditionally, amongst the states university 00:39:00research was the, the way to handle federal aid. The Kentucky Highway Department didn't agree with that, and I wouldn't agree with it today because, uh, uh, well, that's a whole story--a book. I could write a book. But at this meeting, a man who was in charge of research in Illinois was telling us, saying about a--what a nice research facility he had, and, uh, and so he turned. I was sitting beside him and he 00:40:00turned to me and he said, "How do you feel about that?" I said, "Well, there are people in Kentucky don't, uh, don't agree that the best yield is from university research." Boy, I could have hit him in the head with a sledgehammer. Anyway, he was very upset. He didn't like me after, after that. (Miller laughs) By the way, John Hutchinson is a good friend of mine. He asked me, uh, once to give him, do a lecture at his, uh, night class on traffic something. I sat down and wrote 00:41:00out a, um, few notes on, uh, it had to do with skid resistance and yes, that's something I can talk about for a long time. Roland Rizenbergs was in charge of their, uh, skid testing, and, but I, I wanted to go back. I lost my train of thought.

WHAYNE: Were you talking about John Hutchinson's class?

HAVENS: Oh, yes. I was, it was about Newton's laws of motion and I took Newton's laws of motions and put them on, on the board, and for an hour and a half I showed, um, applications like, uh, V squared 00:42:00is equal to 2GH. That's a rocket, uh, formula, but it's also the formula for establishing the skid resistance of the pavement. Well, it fascinated John. He thought I was the smartest--he said, "There are three engineers in the university. You and me and"--he's retired now. Taught structures. Taught, uh, mechanics. Oh, shoot.

WHAYNE: Maybe we can look it up.


HAVENS: Okay. I wanted to mention that other fellow.

MILLER: If you think of it later we could, um, add it as a note maybe to it.

HAVENS: Okay. Where do we go from here?

MILLER: Um, can you describe then your experience, I guess, as the day--you saw the day was coming--where it would become, the research, applicable research that you were doing would, um, sort of turn into what we now have as the Kentucky Transportation Center. And I was just wondering if you had any thoughts then, I guess, over that transformation and creation of KTC.

HAVENS: Well, I was not in favor of transferring it to UK. I had a friend who, uh, was in the research program at Tennessee. His name was 00:44:00William A. Goodman. He came up and was, was invited to talk to, talk to the, um, one of the faculty meetings one evening or something. Anyway, he was talking in favor of university research. Um, the prime mover on that, while it was never sure, some thought it was Calvin Grayson, um, but those were bad days for the highway department. There was a fellow from Louisville who was, um, head of the highway department. Um, I 00:45:00thought I'd never forget his name. You want to help me?

WHAYNE: I'm not sure who that is so maybe we can--


WHAYNE: I'm not sure who that is.

HAVENS: It was John Young Brown's administration.

WHAYNE: Oh, okay. Was it the transportation secretary?


WHAYNE: Okay. We can look that up.

MILLER: And he came and spoke or what were you going to say about him?

HAVENS: That's a whole big story by itself. Uh, well, uh, I'm not going 00:46:00to be able to put that in, in good perspective I don't believe, but, uh--

MILLER: We can go back out to something more general if you'd like.


MILLER: We can refocus out more generally if you'd like.


MILLER: Um, this is just a broad sort of experience question for you, I guess. What are some of the events and changes in transportation in Kentucky that you've been a part of or witnessed over the years, um, that made an impression on you?

HAVENS: Well, you wouldn't think that, uh, highway striping or lane 00:47:00delineation was--would be something. Originally, we were a materials lab. We got out of that, uh, and got into even finance and, uh, a lot of things that, uh, too numerous to speak of almost. But, uh, we, uh, we were quite, uh, involved in the development of, uh, reflective highway science--(clears throat)--even--the idea back then was that, uh, the whole idea of reflective--reflection was built on, uh, glass beads the size of, uh, uh, what comes out of a salt shaker. 00:48:00And--(clears throat)--they were even talking about--and I believe some actually did it, but we didn't--put it in a, in a liquid of some kind and spray it onto the vegetation alongside the, the roadway; even, uh, on the, on the pavement or bridge developments. Uh, you could, uh, there would be enough light from headlights to--it would look like daylight almost. Uh, it never--the idea never did catch on very well, but the, the highway science that you see today are a marvelous invention and, uh, every sign is a little, in the coating has, uh, 00:49:00these micro beads, glass beads in them that, uh, uh--I remember the, if it's a glass ball, um, I could use a pill to show you. If you shine a light into a marble, for instance, a clear marble then the, all of the light focuses at the rear surface of the bead if the refractive index is two. The Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, they got to the point where they could make, um, beads with a refractive index of 00:50:001.96. Uh, of course, they, they had the patent coverage on everything, but it was worth the money for everybody. It was a marvelous thing and, of course, the glass beads got into traffic paints. That's where they originated, and, uh, I remember one of my early investigations-- (clears throat)--up in Covington in--(clears throat)--when the old US 25 route was the way you got into Cincinnati, they put down some linoleum blocks for crosswalks which were, um, they were reflectorized. They 00:51:00had glass beads in them, but very quickly they went black, dark. They wouldn't function anymore. I went up there and I took some chips up and looked at them under the microscope, and the top half of the glass bead was gone so it had worn away that fast. So--(laughs)--they, uh, just so much use, too much traffic for it. They shifted the emphasis to edge lines, but edge lines came about primarily for interstate but they had just been, uh, started in use, uh, on existing facilities and 00:52:00so forth. But I, uh--hmm. Where do I go from here?

MILLER: Are there additional projects that you, um, could, um, mention for us that you're particularly proud of, uh, or enjoyed working on over the years?

HAVENS: Oh, I enjoyed all of them I think, but, uh, there was a project I didn't finish. Oh, let me tell you about a project that I thought I was--it was good. (clears throat) It had to do with the durability 00:53:00of concrete. I had a system where it worked out where I could, uh, check the, uh, durability of concrete to withstand, uh, freeze/thaw, and--(clears throat)--I related the--I checked the weather records and determined that, uh, there were approximately thirty damaging 00:54:00freeze cycles per winter in this area. And then I took the, uh--I can't remember exactly how, the details on it--anyway, checking the, uh, durability of concrete by our freeze and thaw cycles in the lab, I was projecting how if we limited the quality of limestone to a certain percent absorption, um, we could construct concrete pavements that would last a hundred years. That's a wild idea, but it would work. 00:55:00Not very practical in that sense. Otherwise, well, there's--I could talk about the, uh--oh--about the durability of concrete and, um, from now on. But one project that I was, uh, interested in had to do with the lives of, uh, culverts. A culvert, uh, metal culverts--was a road, US 60 up around Ashland, was not, had been reconstructed a 00:56:00few years, four or five, and had, uh, metal culverts and the bottoms was gone. The acid--water flowing through it was acid water from mine drainage, and, uh, as a result of my reporting of those instances, I did a study statewide. I went through box culverts and, and, uh, I had a man once who could, who could go headfirst through an eighteen inch culvert--and, uh, but I read about a fellow who was doing that sort 00:57:00of investigation in West Virginia. Um, in order for him to go through a box, through a small culvert, well, any culvert for that matter, he had a little Terrier dog with him, and he'd tie a rope on that little dog and run it through the culvert to clear it of snakes before he went through. Um, anyway, I, I surveyed the entire state, the road between, um, the Kentucky River and, uh, um, and, uh, Harrodsburg. It goes up to Pleasant Run there. That road was built in 1928 and 00:58:00this was 1951 or two when I was doing that survey, and I was amazed all the culverts were, they were metal culverts, uh, and all shiny. Of course, that's on a ridge all the way, but what was happening was rabbits and wildlife was using those culverts and underpasses to get over on the other side of the road and they kept them clean and nice. Those culverts are over there today. But, uh, I, I delineated the state according to mine drainage from abandoned mines, uh, highway 00:59:00cuts, uh, anything. There was a program back then, I remember, they thought they were going to help the situation by sealing all, uh, drift mine tunnels, and, uh, there was a, there was a federal program set up to pay for some of that, uh, kind of work. Some of them were closed just by them building a masonry wall. Anyway, uh, there, there never did develop a real policy for judiciously, uh, selecting culvert 01:00:00paths (??). Uh, I'm sorry that they never did, but, uh, I, uh--after we transferred to the university, I did a project for the, uh, Federal Highway Administration--no. Yes. I believe it was the Federal Highway Administration. It's, it's too vague for me. I'm sorry.

MILLER: That's okay.

HAVENS: There's a report in my file. (Miller laughs) I'm sorry. I got 01:01:00lost on tangents there.

WHAYNE: Yeah. That's fine. It's fine. It's interesting.

MILLER: How do you feel your work and, uh, the work of your fellow researchers at that time have impacted, um, the citizens of Kentucky?

HAVENS: It, it's really impossible to count that, but, uh, I think a lot of claims are being made like, uh, the Federal Highway Administration is guilty of the same. They overvalue the results of their research, 01:02:00and that's, that's bad. So, uh, I remember two or three things that we--(clears throat)--tried to evaluate that way. Um, but, you know- -(clears throat)--there's an interesting thing about doing this sort of research. It's, a lot of it is just for the time being because- -(clears throat)--uh, later it comes out a little different, and the, and the trouble is avoided. Um, well, but I happen to think now of an interesting, uh, project. There's a, the bridge in Cincinnati, I 01:03:00believe it's called the C & O Bridge, a railroad bridge and a highway bridge, US 25 bridge then and now, uh, were built on the same, uh, foundation. Well, the highway bridge got so--was condemned. The engineers condemned it, so they blasted it down into the water. The question I got involved in is could they build a new bridge on the old foundation. Now, the problem was that the foundation consisted of, 01:04:00like, building a wooden ship. In the--excavating it down, uh, during the low water. Back then when that was built, the water level was farther down than--anyway, it was wooden and then with cross-bracing. And concrete was poured in to fill all that, uh, cason they called it. (clears throat) Well, the, um, the problem was that the wood--the question was, has the wood decayed too much? Well, um, Calvin Grayson 01:05:00was, uh, running the highway department then--or no. I don't remember. Anyway, he asked me to find out, uh, if, if they could put a new bridge structure on that foundation, those foundations. Anyway, he hired a, uh, firm in Cincinnati, consulting firm, and they drilled down through the, uh, concrete pier into the wood foundation cason and they took wood samples. And, uh, Grayson said, "Here are the samples. You tell us whether it's strong enough to hold the bridge up." Well, we, 01:06:00we took those samples and, uh, had a fellow who was very precise, and he made little cues about the size of a good-sized dice and we tested the strength of them. And, uh, a little studying went along with that. The, it turned out that the cason was constructed with white oak, and the white oak built in, uh--grew in a high and when that bridge was constructed, and, uh, new, fresh white oak, if you lay them side-by-side 01:07:00the, the rings, which is--or the hard part of the wood--um, were closer spaced. And the old, uh, wood out of the cason than was newly grown white oak. It was stronger than new wood, and it was fascinating that it had not decayed. There was no indication that decay had weakened, uh, the bridge. They built a new bridge on it; it's still standing. That was at least twenty-five or thirty years ago, so, but, you know, 01:08:00every time I go by it, I say, "Well, I didn't make a mistake."

MILLER: Is it still also a railroad bridge?

HAVENS: It's a highway bridge.

MILLER: It's a highway bridge now?

HAVENS: They're talking about building new bridges there and in Louisville, too, but, um, it's not subject to condemnation. If they tear it down, it'll be because it's not functional, uh, enough.

MILLER: Uh-huh.

HAVENS: I liked that project, but a fellow I knew in the state of Washington, uh, had the problem of determining the age of, uh--the condition of piles which, they're a waterfront and you use a lot of 01:09:00them, so it was important to them what we decided here and it helped Grayson in his capacity to do, uh, what we did.

MILLER: I'm just curious. Was that white oak from that area or had it been brought in?

HAVENS: Yes. It was from that area. That was, uh--I'm trying to remember the date. Uh, it couldn't have been 1927. I can't remember. I don't believe that's the right date. I believe it was before that. Anyway, I think there's a report somewhere.


MILLER: You had mentioned, um, in a couple of the earlier projects about using weather data in your research.

HAVENS: Uh-huh.

MILLER: Um, I was just also curious, um, who you may have worked with to collect that data or was there an agency at that time--do you recall the name of it--that--

HAVENS: You mean, the National Weather, uh--what do you call it?

MILLER: Was it the National Weather Service as we know it now or--

HAVENS: I think pretty much.


HAVENS: But, uh, a lot of the help that we got from them was published data as I remember. Well, I was thinking of something else a minute 01:11:00ago. Oh. One day, the people in Frankfort called me up and said, We want to put a gold paint on this bridge, the upper bridge at Cincinnati, and they said, "What, what do we have to specify?" Anyway, we had trouble deciding whether--how, how close does it have to look like gold to satisfy the, the people who thought they, uh, owned the 01:12:00bridge. Um, it was something, uh, missing. Frank Kemper was state highway engineer. Hmm. I just thought of it. One, one day I was--had a, some of my people with me working on the bridge west of Frankfort, and I had, had a great big, uh, newspaper camera--I don't remember what 01:13:00I was doing--taking pictures. Anyway, the work crew from Frankfort that was doing the labor on it, about four o' clock, they left. About five o' clock, I received a phone call from, uh, someone in, uh, the garage in Frankfort that said, uh, "You left your camera sitting on the guardrail of a bridge where you were working on it." I said, "You stay right there. I'll be there as fast as I can get there." (laughs)


MILLER: Did the end well, then, I guess?

HAVENS: Well, I got it back.


HAVENS: I still have it.

MILLER: Do you? Do you recall what make camera it is or--?

HAVENS: Do you want to see it?

MILLER: I would. After the interview, that would be wonderful.

HAVENS: It's buried in the closet.

MILLER: Uh-huh.

HAVENS: Um, while you were talking this idea came to mind. I did a lot of, uh, microscopic, uh, photography, uh, and I, in the earliest days 01:15:00like 1950 and '51, we had a fellow, uh, over on Graham Avenue. We had a darkroom--we made it a darkroom. It was a transformer room which we converted to a darkroom. Uh, his name was Allie Peed, A-l-l-i-e P-e- e-d. He taught me a lot about photography, and, uh, he, he had, uh--as he was growing up in high school, he had done a lot of photography by himself. He knew a lot about it. I--it amazed me, um, but, uh, he got me started. Um, but he and I went to a photographers' convention in 01:16:00Detroit one--oh, in 1951 or two, something like that. It was amazing, uh, the number of people that were interested in it. Back at that time you could walk in the streets in Detroit without any worry. As safe as it could be. You go to Detroit now, you don't dare walk alone. Anyway, while we were there he, uh, was talking with this fellow from, with Kodak Company. Well, the next thing I knew, when we got back he 01:17:00had accepted a job with Kodak Company, and, uh, hmm.

MILLER: You said you did a lot of microscopic photography.

HAVENS: Oh, yeah.

MILLER: Go ahead.

HAVENS: I think I started off with, uh, looking at, uh, asphalt. One thing I left out was the Kentucky rock asphalt. Do you know about it?

MILLER: Yes, sir. Just a little. I've been, uh, reading about it.

HAVENS: Well, we did a project one summer. Jerry, Jerry Rose was interested in, um, Kentucky rock asphalt also, and, uh, Kentucky 01:18:00rock asphalt at one time was the paving material on the Indianapolis Speedway. But the problem with it was that under the microscope when that stuff, uh, was quarried, run through a crusher, that the sand particles would have little drops of, of bits of other asphalt sticking to them, and when you, when it was, uh, heated hot enough, the asphalt 01:19:00would spread out and cover the whole particle. And that made it, uh, it made a beautiful riding surface. It was porous enough--which was the feature of the sand--porous enough that as a tire went over the surface in the rain, it just pushed the water down in the, uh, surface and it squirted out through the side; skid resistant without any doubt. It's a shame that we lost a whole industry because it was fickle enough to--that coating would, under the traffic, would, uh, 01:20:00come off, and, uh, the asphalt, uh, we just couldn't hold it together. Well, I was going to tell you something else. Oh, yeah. That got me interested in, uh, in sand asphalts for surfacing. There was a problem with the Frankfort, the highway going down into Frankfort from Lexington before it was rebuilt. It was called--they were calling it "death hill," which later applied to the interstate going down into 01:21:00Covington. Well, they had a congressional hearing over that, and I was interrogated by these congressmen. And, uh, the state highway engineer and, uh, two or three assistants--I don't remember who all it was--they said they had been called to, uh, testify, so they, they each had their say and tried to answer questions from the congressmen. And, uh, things weren't going very well, so the, the--fortunately, they asked me to go along, but I wasn't supposed to testify. So finally they said, 01:22:00"We better get Jim Havens up here." So I went up there, and this, this, uh, congressman in--from West Virginia--he's still living--he asked me questions just like that (snaps). He said, "Do you know?" I said, "Yes, sir. I know." "Do you know?" I said, "Yes, sir. I know." So he kept going on and on and on and finally he said, "Well, I'm satisfied." You know, he was finished, but, uh, what happened was that was a witch hunt. The Congressional Committee was going to condemn somebody for 01:23:00the accidents on the Covington hill. We did them another project on the Kentu-, on the hill. It was sliding down the hill--the road was. That's all Herb Southgate's and Bob Dean, sort of pulled that one out of the hat. We, uh, we stabilized it. What we did was drain it, but they were afraid it was going to slide into Covington and it could have. The drainage up on the, uh, in Covington, uh--no, not Covington- 01:24:00-um, what's the town up on top of the hill?

WHAYNE: Fort Thomas or Fort Mitchell or--

HAVENS: Well, this would be before Fort Mitchell and--

WHAYNE: I don't know that area very well.

MILLER: It's Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties, right?

HAVENS: I can visualize it, but I can't recall the name. What's the last overpass by--as you go up the hill? I mean, the first overpass going up the hill--

MILLER: I'm not sure. I think it's past Turkeyfoot, isn't it? It's probably past--

HAVENS: Oh, that's north of Turkeyfoot. Anyway, that road has been rebuilt completely since then. I mean, it sort of, for a little bit 01:25:00was--but they had houses up there that, uh, were going to slide over onto the highway and, uh, of course, houses down below that were in imperiled, but they had some, uh, ponds above the road. They got drained, and, uh, uh, we, we installed some drains in specific places. But, uh, that was good. I, I wanted to go back to the business about, uh, this Kentucky rock asphalt and the, and the--I had, we had done 01:26:00some work in the lab and, uh, on sand--the stability and strength of sand/asphalt mixes--and I've decided to--the people in Frankfort, the engineers, that is, are saying, What can we do to help the problem on, uh, on the Frankfort hill? I was able to persuade them to try the, to make a sand asphalt using Kentucky River sand. It worked beautifully, and, uh, it was expensive but it--there were no more skidding accidents. The whole idea of sand asphalt died. It just, 01:27:00the city, uh, of Washington D.C. for years has been paved with sand asphalt. A lot of cities like it because it's, uh, it's easy to work with. They can spread it and roll it and pack it and, um, make patches and, um, it's skid-resistant unless, unless the sand is too polished or too round, not sharp enough, in other words. Um, the whole, there's a whole history of sand asphalt, uh, there about Washington D.C. and 01:28:00some others that, uh, should be resurrected. And, uh, but limestone is what we have in abundance, but it takes work to find sands, uh, that, you know, could do the whole job. But I spent a lot of time on that, but I'm done right now. Ask me a question.

MILLER: I think we've covered a lot of things on our list, but, uh, we want you to have the opportunity if there's anything else that you want 01:29:00to make sure to have included or to, to recall. But, uh, otherwise we'll thank you for your time.

HAVENS: Okay. Do you want me to quit?

MILLER: No. No, no, no. But I think we've covered what's on our list, um, uh, but we welcome you if you've got, uh, other things that are coming to mind.


HAVENS: I'm lost.

MILLER: Um, one thing that I did think of earlier was, um, maybe some of your memories of working with any local governments in Kentucky. Um, I know you were doing asphalt for the state, but just, I guess, maybe when you were on location in, um, some of the rural areas in the state do you have any fond memories or stories to tell about those experiences?

HAVENS: Well, uh, uh, I, I'm mixing up what I've already talked about with what I'm thinking about, but, uh, I, I didn't, didn't, uh, I didn't do much work for the cities or counties either. But, uh, but I, I think I had a good group of, uh, people working when I was there. Uh, some were, uh, sort of cantankerous, but, uh, if you go about the, 01:31:00the, thing, things right, it all goes right and, with honest effort, yields something for everybody. I always believed that. There was a lot more of the work that could have been done, but the problem is, you have to have the confidence of the people you're working for who are in Frankfort or you strike out and it won't do you any good if you have 01:32:00answer their problems. They'll say, "No thanks." Hmm?

MILLER: I thought of another question for you. Um, were there any other surprises that, uh, I guess your research yielded to you over the years? I enjoyed your story there about the culvert and, uh, where it was still shiny.

HAVENS: Uh-huh.

MILLER: Uh, were there, were there other surprises like that? Maybe things you didn't even expect to, that you discovered?

HAVENS: Yeah. Yes. Um, I, I'd better not talk anymore.

MILLER: Okay. Well, thank you--


HAVENS: I'd be talking about people if I'm not careful.

MILLER: That's fine. Well, thank you so much for your time, and, uh, we can always do a follow-up interview as well if you, um, if something else comes to mind that we didn't cover today. So--

HAVENS: Well, uh, like I said, you're welcome to those files, and, uh, I wanted to ask you--we did reports on almost everything, and, and we were--they were accumulating in the engineering library. I don't know whether they have them or not. I don't know whether everything got there or if it is still there.

WHAYNE: They have some copies. The Transportation Library has copies of all the research reports.

HAVENS: Do they really?

WHAYNE: Yes. Yes, we do. We have bound copies up until the, just the 01:34:00most recent years, and then we have individual copies. There may be a few missing, but we've tried to collect the whole--

HAVENS: Oh, that's great.

WHAYNE: --whole range and I know the Engineering Library has a good number.

HAVENS: Well, do they have a, a, uh--what do you call it, a--?

MILLER: Catalogue?

HAVENS: Catalogue. Yeah.

WHAYNE: Yeah. We've got it on computer, and we could generate a list of what we have.

HAVENS: Well, that's interesting.

WHAYNE: Uh-huh.

HAVENS: I wanted to, uh, ask you what, what you think about the history of transportation in Kentucky.

WHAYNE: Are you talking about the little booklet?

HAVENS: Not a little book. I meant to make it a volume of, uh--


WHAYNE: I think it's something that would be very useful and very good to have, so if you've done some work on it, that would be great.

HAVENS: Well, uh, yeah. I'd like to see somebody do it--a history of transportation manuals. Of course, this is--are you going to do this?

MILLER: Um, we're working with the Louis B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the university, and they're going to actually transcribe the audio, um, into text but it's also going to be posted online, um, the recordings for people to be able to listen to.

HAVENS: Oh, really? Okay. Well, I could help somebody a little bit 01:36:00with, uh, the history of transportation.

MILLER: That would be great. I think we sh-, we can take a look at it and see what we have and where we could go with it.

HAVENS: I have a--have files. When I was doing, starting that history, I had people who would mail information to me. Some of it would say, "Please return when you've finished." I didn't finish. I still have it somewhere, and I mean, papers were keepsakes for them and I've felt bad about that.

WHAYNE: Well, maybe that's something we can look into.

MILLER: It would be great to archive some of those things. --------- 01:37:00-(??)

WHAYNE: ----------(??)-----------

MILLER: Uh-huh.

[End of interview.]