Bar ditch

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10 comments on this post.
  1. John:

    As a native of North Mississippi, I grew up with the term “borrow pit,” and I was born quite a bit later than 1893. After moving away years ago, I realized that my home state was often last to accept new trends. I look forward to the arrival of “bar ditch” somewhere around mid-century.

  2. Scott F:

    I grew up in Kansas – they just called them ditches. Lived in OK for 2 years and all they talked about were bar ditches. When I naively asked how that was different from a regular ditch, they all looked at me like I was crazy. No one could ever explain this, so I read this with great enjoyment and some nostalgia

  3. Bud Short:

    I am a civil engineer and have been designing and building roads for more than 35 years. The article is correct. The ditches are cut and the spoil dirt is mounded up between the ditches to raise the road grade. The dirt is “borrowed” from the ditches to create the road crown therefore “borrow ditch” shortened in the south the way they do in the south is now “bar ditch”.

  4. David A.:

    Well, Bud is on the right track in explaining what the term is. The term is spelled “borrow ditch” when committed to writing but when using the unique oral skills of a true Southerner it is phonetically pronounced as illustrated above “Bar-aahd ditch”. Unfortunately those who are not used to hearing such dialect think they are hearing “bar ditch”. Thus the confusion.

  5. Starla Medlin:

    we here in texas believed it was called this because that is where you usually ended up after a night at the bars drinking and partying.

  6. terri@texascuisine.com:

    It must be true they had it on the internet…

  7. Russ:

    I grew up in Missouri and we learned about bar ditches as barrow ditch from the digging of a parallel ditch to a wayward river or waterway to form a levee to contain the water in times of flood. My Grandparents hab a farm and the bar ditch seperated their farm to protect it from winter floods of the river a mile or so from the house.

  8. John W. Bales:

    When I was a child growing up in Texas in the 1950s, I asked my grandmother Olivia Bozeman Adams, who was born in Texas in 1891, why the ditches beside a road were called bar ditches. She explained immediately that when communities built a road they dug two ditches using dredges and mules and piled the removed soil in the middle, trampelled it down and added gravel if available. She recalled that they were originally called ‘borry’ ditches by the people making the roads in her community when she was a child. Many Texas still pronounce the word ‘borrow’ as ‘borry.’

  9. Sharon R. Flores:

    hahaha, don’t know why I woke up at 3:00 this AM and remembered my dad calling it a bar ditch (as in, We found you in a bar ditch; that’s why you’re our daughter). Yep, I’m from Texas. Thanks for the memories!

  10. Tom Sylvester:

    I also am an engineer. I have heard the old horse drawn skips or skids were also called “barrows” similar to wheelbarrows. The skid could be lowered (or the wheel raised) to pick up a load. When full, the wheel was than lowered and the horses could haul it to the to the mound between the ditches for the roadway. Barrow ditches thence were the places that the barrows gathered their material.

    So I guess you can say that the barrow borrowed the dirt from the barrow (borrow) ditch to make the barrow (mound) for the road.

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