Look down – the Manhole Covers are Amazing!

I was in Bristol, Virginia, when I really stopped and looked at a manhole cover for the first time. Of course, I had seen them my entire life, but it was the unique manhole cover in Bristol that made me pause in the middle of the street to see a manhole cover as a work of art. The manhole covers in the middle of the road on Main Street are the dividing line between Virginia and Tennessee. The manhole cover reflected the different states with images of a guitar and a fiddle. This art rendered in iron began my love affair with manhole covers.

(I pause here to say, please be careful. Stopping in the middle of the street or on a busy sidewalk to look at manhole covers and take photos can be dangerous. My family and friends can attest to this.)

Here is a bit of history…

Manhole covers started as slabs of stone or pieces of wood, allowing access to covered trenches that carried sewage. This basic design was in use from 3500 BC through the 1750s-1850s AD. In the nineteenth century, modern maintenance holes and the modern manhole cover were developed. For the last 200+ years, ironworks in countries around the world have made cast-iron manhole covers, some weighing as much as 300 lbs. each. (from Sewer History)

The diversity of designs…

Once you start looking at manhole covers, you will see numerous differences and amazing designs. You will see the diversity of sizes, with some as small as a few inches to massive covers. Cities have their names emblazed on them, and many times the function of the cover is described in steel.

Here are some photos I have taken in cities and towns around the world during my travels. With my passion for the art underfoot, friends also send me photos, which I adore.