We roadfans say we’ve “clinched” a road when we’ve driven it end to end. Some roads are easier to clinch than others. I clinched the Michigan Road here in Indiana over several trips one summer a few years ago, but I never had to leave the state to do it. The National Road (the nation’s first federally funded highway, built between 1811 and 1838) stretches across six states and is therefore a little more of a challenge. I’ve been working at it, though. I began in Indiana in 2006, conquered it in Illinois in 2007, and drove it across Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia in 2009. But Ohio’s segment of the road has remained unexplored territory for me. It’s not that I haven’t tried to drive it. It’s just that the last time I entered Ohio on the road, it cost me my car.
Over Memorial Day weekend – a great weekend to get out of Indianapolis if you’re not a race fan, and I’m not – my dog and I sped along I-70 to Bridgeport, Ohio, where the National Road and US 40 begin their westward trek across the state. I spent three days driving the road, following every old alignment, photographing every old bridge, and stopping in many of the towns along the way. I’ll be writing about this trip for the next several weeks, and I hope you’ll come along for the ride.
If you like the National Road, you might like reading everything else I’ve written about it.