The Story of the Lane Cones

Nancy Hill By Nancy Hill, 1st May 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Humour>Funny Stories

The story of the answer to problem of traffic control & safety in road construction zones.

Before Cars & Trucks

Way back in time before there were the great big construction machines, people mostly traveled by horse. Horses could walk over almost any type of ground & even right through streams & rivers if they weren't too deep. Then cars & trucks were invented & people started to ride in those instead of on horses.

It wasn't very long until those people noticed that cars & trucks didn't go across bumpy, rocky ground or through water like a horse could. Cars & trucks needed smoother roads & bridges than what was around for horses pulling wagons & buggies. But the drivers of those cars & trucks couldn't keep getting out of them to move all the rocks & fill in the dips. Someone needed to do that work before the cars & trucks arrived.

The towns decided they would hire some men to take their picks & shovels to the paths outside of town & make smooth, flat roads. It was hard, slow work because they didn't have big machines like there are now, so all the road work was done by people. They had to break the rocks that were too big to move & then move all the pieces as well as the small rocks. They had to fill in all the holes in the path with part of the little rock & some dirt. Most of the time they even had to make the path wider so two cars or trucks could pass going in opposite directions. All the time they were working, they had to watch out for those cars & trucks they were fixing the road for.

Quiet Before Noise

In those days there was plenty of warning that a car or truck was coming in your direction. Horses, & horses pulling wagons, were quiet except for the clip-clop of the horse's feet & the creaking of the wagon. Those new machines were not at all quiet with their rattle of metal & bang of the exhaust from the motor. So the workmen could get out of the way of traffic just by moving when they heard the noise. They didn't usually need to move really fast because those cars & trucks didn't go much faster than 20 miles an hour at first.

Then the cars & trucks got bigger & faster & a little bit quieter & there were a whole lot more of them on the roads. Before too long the workmen knew they needed some protection while they worked, especially if there was a corner nearby. Drivers couldn't see around the corner & didn't know to be careful for the workmen. Something needed to be done fast.

Safety First

They started with lookouts to warn cars & trucks to slow down but there was still the problem of where people should drive around the workmen. They needed something the men could move around wherever they need them. Big rocks were too much trouble & sometimes logs aren't available & they need at least two men to move & stack. Everyone wondered what to do.

One day, on his way to his roadwork job, a man discovered some of those big orange barrels sitting just off a roadside. Around the barrels were some tall, skinny cones & some short, round cones. It looked like they were growing there. He picked up some of the cones but discovered the barrels were heavy on the bottom. Even so, he picked most of the patch of barrels & cones & took them with him to work. Maybe these would keep cars & trucks out of the work area. It was certain that everyone could see that bright orange color.

Today you see a lot of those barrels & cones wherever men are working on moving rocks, filling holes, & making the roads wider. Maybe you have also seen patches of those barrels & cones growing alongside the road. Do you ever wonder how they get there? Let me tell what I think.

Traffic Cone Origins

I think the seed that starts those patches falls off those big orange trucks that travel all over the country. The seed is the same color as the trailer of those trucks so nobody sees it on there. When it is ready, it falls off the truck as it travels down the road. The seeds blow over to the side of the road & find a place to stay. This part happens in the late summer & the fall each year.

In the spring when the flowers & grass starts to grow the orange seed sprouts & starts to grow, too. The first sprouts grow into the barrels. The next sprouts grow into the tall, skinny cones. The last sprouts only get to be the small, round cones before the workmen go out to harvest them. The barrels are the seed that has grown as much as it can, the tall, skinny cones are like teenagers, & the small, round cones are like little kids. They all work together to keep the road workmen safe by showing the cars & trucks where to drive.

So the next time you are traveling, keep a watch for those big trucks with the orange trailers. Maybe you'll see something that looks like a puff of dust fly off the side of the trailer. If you do, you'll be one of the few people who ever see the seed for the orange barrels & cones before they sprout & grow.


Bang, Barrels, Bridges, Cars, Cones, Construction, Drivers, Dust, Fall, Horse, Kids, Machines, Motor, Orange, Protection, Rattle, Roads, Rocks, Safety, Seed, Sprout, Summer, Towns, Trailer, Trucks, Wagons, Workmen

Meet the author

author avatar Nancy Hill
I am already retired & live in a rural area of Washington State with my husband of 43 years, 2 dogs, 1 cat, & some fish. Our 3 grown children & 2 of our grandchildren live nearby. The oldest 2 grandchildren live with their mother in Florida. I kno...(more)

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