The National Road in Illinois

On the luckiest day, 7/7/7, a friend and I spent the day touring the National Road in Illinois, staying as close as we could to the road’s original path. US 40 parallels the National Road’s route through the state today.

We saw about thirty miles of brick highway, which was laid in the early 1920s, mostly abandoned.

Brick National Road in eastern Illinois

We saw the small towns built on the road, with their late-1800s buildings largely intact and maintained.

Marshall, IL block made famous by George Stewart

We saw Illinois’s only Madonna of the Trail, her bonnet shielding her eyes from the early-evening sun, forever looking westward from the end of the old National Road.

Madonna of the Trail, Vandalia

We saw a whole lot more — the balconies of Greenup, a new covered bridge that I swear is built to survive all but a nuclear bomb blast, the great big neon sign pointing to a restaurant that had just burned to the ground, several motels from US 40’s heyday still renting rooms today, and the stretch of road in Illinois where they must let highway line painters blow off steam from their stressful jobs. But to see those photos, you’ll have to visit the full writeup on my roads pages.

Looking for more about the National Road? It’s one of my favorite subjects. Go here for an index of my posts from along that road.

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2 responses to “The National Road in Illinois”

  1. Michael Avatar

    {sniff, sniff} I had looked forward to searching out the IL part of the National Road with you since I drove next to it so many years. :(

  2. queenofroads Avatar

    The bricks look as though they’re in good shape. Perhaps this road is destined to become our Via Appia.

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