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More stories about Backfill

  • Gentlemen, Start Your Trowels!

    With those words, the competitors in the fifth annual Bricklayer 500 were off and laying brick at a pace never seen on job sites.

  • Hammer Museum

    Most carpenters still carry a hammer on their toolbelt. But even those who pound a nail the old way once in a while would probably admit, if pressed, that hammers are beginning to seem sort of, well, last century.

  • On Assignment in Iraq

    Contractor Rob O'Brien is an active-duty Marine. In August 2005, when he learned he was to be deployed to Iraq, he fully expected to participate in some of the riskier support operations his unit would be performing from its base in Al Anbar Province.

  • The Truth About Thomas Crapper

    It sounds like a straightforward trivia question: Was the flush toilet invented by a Victorian Englishman named Thomas Crapper, and is his name the source of the slang expression for that invention?

  • Ghosts of the Gold Rush

    Tell Charley Spiller that his roofs look like they've been cobbled together from tin cans, and he'll thank you for the compliment. Spiller, a maintenance mechanic for California's Bodie State Historic Park, works in the ghost town of Bodie, Calif., on buildings that haven't been inhabited for a...

  • Straw-Bale Vault

    It's not every day that a world-famous artist asks you to design and build a retreat honoring the work of Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy — in highly seismic Joshua Tree, Calif., to boot.

  • Breakneck Backhoe

    With a top speed of 20 mph, most backhoe loaders are unlikely candidates for the passing lane. The HMEE (high-mobility engineer excavator) is different.

  • Men of Oak

    Most small businesses don't stick around for 50 years, so when Williams Hardwood Flooring made it to that important milestone, company president Jim Leslie decided to do something special: He commissioned chain-saw carver Michael Blaine of Winchester, N.H., to make a life-size sculpture of two...

  • The Biggest Thing to Hit Town in 74 Million Years

    About 80 miles northwest of Des Moines, Iowa, lies the small town of Manson. Nothing much has ever happened there, unless you count the time 74 million years ago when a giant meteor crashed nearby. Actually, calling it "giant" doesn't do it justice: The meteor was 1 1/2 miles across, weighed 10...

  • Backfill: Sign Language From the Streets of New Orleans

    Sign language in New Orleans