Monday, March 26, 2018

Lake Asphalt of Trinidad, the other La Brea tarpit (yep, both have the same name) that didn't have a Los Angeles tourism board, and jillions of sabertooth and sloth fossils to lure in tourists (I've been to that one in LA, it's worth it)

Way back in 1851 the tenth Earl of Dundonald took out a patent for the use of asphalt from the Lake at La Brea on the island of Trinidad in the West Indies, though he had not learned yet that it was the largest natural tar lake in the world.

He knew from ancient history that walls were mortared with it, ships caulked, and water tanks were sealed with it back in Mesopotamia. Even roads had joints sealed with it like the Sumerians did with the Processional Road at Babylon, and the floor of King Nebuchadnezzar's Temple.

And from more recent uses in France, after the 1830 revolution, when asphalt became widely used for pavements, flat roofs, and the lining of cisterns, which was "a sudden phenomenon", after natural deposits were found in France. One of the earliest uses in France was the laying of about 24,000 square yards of Seyssel asphalt at the Place de la Concorde in 1835

In 1859 they started paving in London, and by 1909 automobiles had become numerous enough to cause city and county road management to have to plan on upgrading, as this was when a lot of trucks still had solid rubber tires.

In the USA it was used on such famous landmarks at Pennsylvania Avenue by the White House and the Lincoln Tunnel in NYC

Of the five natural asphalt lake areas in the world, Lake Guanoco in Venezuela, Pitch Lake in Trinidad and Tobago, the only commercial viable source of natural asphalt in the world, and the 3 in California: La Brea Tar Pits (Los Angeles), McKittrick Tar Pits (McKittrick) and Carpinteria Tar Pits (Carpinteria)


  1. And the biggest tar lake is not far, lago guanoco, east of venezuela.