Note: This entry was previously barrow pit.
borrow pit n Also barrow pit, burrow ~; rarely barrow, borrow [Because, esp in sense 1 below, the excavated material is regarded as “borrowed” for use elsewhere. The variant barrow pit is probably due to association with (wheel)barrow (often pronounced with the same vowel as borrow; see wheelbarrow n 1) and burrow pit to association with burrow to dig a tunnel.] Cf borrow ditch n, bar ditch n, bar pit n
1 An excavation from which fill has been taken for use elsewhere.
1849 NH Genl. Court Jrl. House 488, Statement of money drawn from the Treasury of the Manchester and Lawrence Railroad by the Superintendent. . . [Apr] 13, [John L. Kendall] Land borrow pit, 50 00. 1855 Pub. Ledger (Philadelphia PA) 3 Nov /6, [Advt:] For Embankment from Borrow Pits, under 500 feet hauling distance, per cubic yard. 1874 Cincinnati Daily Gaz. (OH) 30 Oct 3/4, Paid sundry persons for land for spoil banks and barrow pits—664 47. 1896 NY Tribune (NY) 17 Oct 11/5, [Advt:] The location and extent of all borrow pits and spoil banks . . must be determined by the Superintendent of Public Works. 1912 Ft. Wayne News (IN) 11 Oct 8/4, Engineer J. H. LaRowe, of steam shovel 257, working in the west burrow pit of Gatun dam, excavated during the month of August a total of 85,844 cubic yards of earth and rock. 1927 Ruppenthal Coll. KS, Often along the railroad right of way we see hollows where earth was dug up . . to raise the grade or level of tracks. . . These are “barrows” in railroad parlance. c1940 Newman–Murphy Conserv. Notes 5 neLA, The barrow-pits at the base of the nearby levee harbored large flocks of ducks. 1940 Sun (Baltimore MD) 6 Apr 22/1 (Hench Coll.), Dry fill from a nearby borrow pit is placed in the holes to bring the surface up to grade. 1950 AmSp 25.85 OR, Barrow-pit is used to describe the sources of material for an earth-fill dam. 1958 PADS 30.11 IA, Railroad construction workers use the variants barrow-pit, folk-etymologized borrow-pit, and shortened bar-pit to refer to an excavation from which gravel is taken to build up the roadbed. This excavation is not necessarily near to the roadbed. 1962 Faulkner Reivers 65 MS, Grandfather had added . . the tin bucket to fill the radiator when we passed creeks or barrow pits. 1966–67 DARE (Qu. C14, A stretch of still water going off to the side from a river or lake) Inf MS45, [ˈbɑrə] pit; (Qu. N24) Inf OH27, Borrow pit—a lake formed by fill taken out to raise the road; [the fill is] borrowed, [hence] “borrow pit.” 1968 DARE FW Addit Providence LA, Borrow pit.—A place from which dirt has been removed for a levee. 1996 Salina Jrl. (KS) 29 Sept sec D 8/1, Saline State Fishing Lake is an old burrow pit lake built during the construction of the new U.S. Highway 81. 2003 Waunakee Tribune (WI) 15 May 17/1, The purpose of the meeting is to discuss and/or issue a Conditional Use Permit for a barrow pit on approximately 10 acres . . for use on Hwy. 113 construction. 2010 Walla Walla Union–Bulletin (WA) 20 Dec sec A 4/2, Cargill Pond appears to be what is referred to as a “borrow pit.”
2 A ditch beside a roadway, serving chiefly for drainage. chiefly West, esp Rocky MtsSee Map
1921 Ogden Std.–Examiner (UT) 12 Sept 8/2, In sections where the flood tends to spread out, a wide beam [sic for berm] on each side of the roadway makes a substantial protection. The borrow pit provides material for the embankment and serves as a diversion drain. 1928 Salt Lake Tribune (UT) 27 Mar 13/3, The sedan went into the borrow pit and back on the highway. 1931 AmSp 7.120 eID, A barrow pit is a ditch along the road. 1950 AmSp 25.85 OR, Barrow-pit is common in road-making, to mean the ditch or excavation beside a roadway. Ibid 165 CO, The ditch by the side of an upgraded road is called ‘bar pit,’ ‘borrow pit,’ ‘barrow pit,’ ‘bar ditch,’ ‘borrow ditch,’ ‘barrow ditch,’ ‘grader ditch,’ and ‘gutter.’ . . One informant . . explained that barrow meant the mound of earth formed when the pit was dug. A few informants connect barrow with the wheelbarrow probably used to carry away the dirt. Informants who use borrow pit explain that the dirt is borrowed from one place to be used in another. The word pit is much more frequent than ditch or gutter. c1960 Wilson Coll. csKY, Borrow pit. . . A ditch or hole by the roadside from which dirt has been removed to build the road. Very modern and rare in use. 1965–70 DARE (Qu. N24, A ditch along the side of a graded road) 25 Infs, chiefly West, esp Rocky Mts, Barrow pit [21 Infs old]; CA91, CO33, 35, NV2, OR1, Borrow pit; CA36, Borrow pit—in Montana it’s called that; ditch in California; CO7, Bar pit [Inf: occas], barrow pit [Inf: I always use], borrow pit [Inf: old-fash]; CO20, [ˈbɑro] pit; CO47, Burrow [bɝo] pit. 1968 Hungry Horse News (Columbia Falls MT) 20 Dec 10/5, Brown tried to avoid contact and ended up in the borrow pit. 1973 Allen LAUM 1.272 (as of c1950), Most infs. . . use only the generic ditch to designate the man-made depression for drainage along a graded road. For some infs. in the western sector of the U[pper] M[idwest] . . especially in Nebraska . . the equivalent term is borrow pit, with several variants. . . One inf. in North Dakota uses borrow itself as the name perhaps through confusion with burrow. Several infs. have the variant bar pit or bar ditch. 1976 Ogden Std.–Examiner (UT) 11 Feb sec B 1/5, Both vehicles plunged off the highway and into the burrow pit between the divided highway. 1977 Daily Inter Lake (Kalispell MT) 18 Feb sec A 3/5, The vehicle went into the barrow pit and flipped over onto its top. 2014 La Seur Home Place 200 csMT, Alma steers hard across the rumble strip, trying to straighten out before they head into the borrow pit.