The disrupted National Road in Ohio

I-70 and the National Road cling to each other for 18 miles between Morristown and Old Washington in eastern Ohio. Sometimes the two roads parallel each other closely; other times, they’re the same road. On this map, the blue line is the National Road. (Thanks to fellow National Road fan Christopher Busta-Peck for creating it; go here to see it on Google Maps.) As you can see, it’s often hard to tell where the National Road stops and I-70 begins.

I followed as much of the old road as still exists.  Overall it was a pleasant drive, for where the forlorn National Road remains, it is peaceful. I encountered not a single soul as I explored these miles.

Waymor Rd.

But this portion of my trip took some determination as the road frequently disappeared into I-70’s fill, as in the photo below. I backtracked twice to cross over I-70 and return to the road on the other side, and once I had to take a wide detour on rough gravel roads.

Wings Lane?

But along the way I encountered the only S bridge that was, at the time, still open to traffic on the entire National Road. I’ll share photos next time.

Lots of old National Road bits have been left behind over the years. Check out this one in Maryland, and this one in Indiana.

I’ve driven the National Road from its beginning in Baltimore, MD to its end in Vandaila, IL. To read everything I’ve ever written about it, click here.

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8 responses to “The disrupted National Road in Ohio”

  1. ryoko861 Avatar

    That’s just amazing that it’s just there, unused. Are there any abandoned homes or stores along it? You’d think they’d bust it up and haul out, but I guess that it’s cheaper to just leave it there and let nature reclaim it. I can picture old Model A’s traveling down it.

    1. Jim Avatar

      It’s not quite abandoned — it is still a local access road; there are farms and one tiny town along it. Tearing out an abandoned road costs money, and so if a no-longer-needed isn’t hurting anybody they generally leave it in! And imagining the Model As driving down a road is a big driver for me to get out and explore.

  2. Scott Palmer Avatar

    Beautiful. I checked out your blogs about the Maryland and Indiana segments as well.

    I think that I’ve driven on some segments of the National Road in Ohio. They used to do a lot of work on I-70. When I lived in Washington DC, I drove between DC and Indianapolis a few times a year. One night going West, I-70 was completely blocked by construction and I had to find an alternate route to get to Indiana. If memory serves, I ended up on the National Road for a while.

    Freeways are better for getting quickly from A to B, but the older roads have more personality.

    1. Jim Avatar

      You almost certainly ended up on US 40/National Road if 70 was closed; the two highways parallel each other all the way across the state.

      When I take a trip, as much as I can I give myself extra time so I can drive the two-lane highways.

  3. Todd Pack Avatar

    If that Brownie Hawkeye still worked, THAT would be the camera to use to document these old roads.

    1. Jim Avatar

      I do sometimes take one of my vintage cameras out on the road. But my digital camera is a godsend on these trips, because I take hundreds of shots in a day.

  4. Tori Nelson Avatar

    Is it strange that driving alone down a gravel road sounds like the perfect way to spend a day? That might be the Mom Stuck In House With Sick Baby in me talking :)

    1. Jim Avatar

      I remember when I was Dad Stuck Home with Babies — anything alone sounded perfect. Even staring at the wall.

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