Gravel National Road segment, Putnam Co, Indiana

The old National Road was built in the early 1800s to connect the East to what then passed for the West, but which we know today as the Midwest. In the 20th century, the old road became US 40, more or less.

This is one of the “less” parts – the only gravel alignment of the National Road I’ve ever found, and I’ve explored it all, from Maryland to Illinois. This is County Road 725 South, near the tiny town of Reelsville in Putnam County, Indiana. US 40 lies about 1,000 feet to the south. For whatever reason, US 40 wasn’t routed along this alignment, and so it was never improved to modern standards. It’s about as close to the 1800s National Road experience as you can get.

I’ve written extensively about the National Road. Here’s a list of posts.


11 responses to “Captured: Gravel National Road segment”

  1. Dani Avatar

    The road in front of my folks’ house was gravel until 15-20 years ago. Boy, did the house get dusty quickly!

    1. Jim Avatar

      Yeah, just driving down that segment did a great job of coating my car in dust.

      1. Dani Avatar

        And to think we used to hang laundry out to dry. It’s amazing that our whites stayed white!

  2. pesoto74 Avatar

    I imagine at one time this would have looked like a super highway if you were walking or riding a horse.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Absolutely. In the early 1800s many roads were cowpaths.

  3. ryoko861 Avatar

    Are there any dwellings along it? Or is it just a gravel road?

    1. Jim Avatar

      There are a couple houses on it. But this is farm country, so the houses are few and far between anyway.

      1. ryoko861 Avatar

        I guess it’s not as quiet as you would think being that the new alignment is just 400 so feet away. It looks so peaceful though!

        1. Jim Avatar

          You might be surprised by how lightly traveled US 40 is. It really is pretty quiet out here.

  4. Lone Primate Avatar
    Lone Primate

    I was thinking something along the lines of what you said when I was looking at the photo. It’s not too hard to imagine what it must have been like taking everything you own and everyone you love slowly along this road in a Conestoga wagon 200 years ago into something not much more than a howling wilderness. Like you said, it’s about as close to the experience as you can get.

    1. Jim Avatar

      And just think — those wagon drivers covered maybe ten miles a day. I can cover 60 in an hour!

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