Road Trips

Scenes from the National Road in 1920

Long about March I’ve been cooped up so long that I start to itch for my first spring road trip. The guys over at the American Road forum have been talking about the National Road a lot lately. One fellow there has started an ambitious online project to capture the road’s history. It has me coming out of my skin to hit the old alignments!

I won an eBay auction recently for a stack of little cards, printed in 1920, showing scenes from the National Road in Maryland and Pennsylvania. They reminded me of my trip last spring along the same route, and only made me want to get out on the road even more!

This card shows the Wilson Bridge, my favorite bridge on the Maryland portion of the road.

National Road, 1920

This bridge isn’t as white today, but she’s still a real beauty. I took the photo below from the shore at about the center of the card’s right edge.

Wilson's Bridge

The road has been rerouted several times over Polish Mountain since 1920. This is what it looked like then.

National Road, 1920

This is the view from the old road on Polish Mountain now. I-68 certainly wasn’t part of the view in 1920!

The view from Gilpin Road

Maybe it was because Maryland was a tough act to follow, but I wasn’t very impressed with the views in Pennsylvania. This card makes me want to give that state a second chance.

National Road, 1920

You can check out all eight of these cards in my Flickr space.

My bubble of old-road nostalgia was burst at the other end of the National Road, in Illinois.

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5 thoughts on “Scenes from the National Road in 1920

    • I’m thinking about Allisonville Road (old SR 37), State Road 46, and maaaaybe the Lincoln Highway this year. I’m also toying with finding the route of the old Dandy Trail, a loop around Marion County from the auto-trails days.

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    • Great question. In college, I had a friend who liked to take me on late-night drives on obscure highways and country roads to see where they led. I began to wonder why roads turned out as they did. Since every journey out of Rose-Hulman started with US 40, I became interested in it, too. I asked a classmate from Brazil why US 40 through his hometown was called National Ave.; he said that was the road’s “old name.” I started to become fascinated. Then I noticed that there were roads marked “Old US 31” on my drive to my hometown, South Bend. So I started exploring, and it kind of built from there.

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  1. Pingback: Polish Mountain Maryland | The Old Motor

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