Stone arch bridge

1834 stone-arch bridge on the National Road
Canon PowerShot S95

Because reader Peggy told me she likes my bridge posts, I’m going through my photo archives to share more interesting bridges.

Built in 1834, this bridge carries the nation’s first federally funded highway, the National Road, over this creek on the west edge of Marshall, Illinois. The National Road connected Cumberland, Maryland to Vandalia, Illinois, via Wheeling, West Virginia; Columbus, Ohio; and Indianapolis, Indiana.

You won’t find many US bridges older than this one, especially outside the original 13 colonies. It still carries traffic every day — and unless you know it’s there, you can’t tell that such ancient infrastructure is supporting your car as you drive over it.

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single frame: 1834 stone-arch bridge on the National Road



14 thoughts on “single frame: 1834 stone-arch bridge on the National Road

  1. Now *this* is an impressive bridge! There cannot be much of anything from the 1830s that survives in this part of the country, let alone something in daily use.

    • I did some research and there are some older bridges still serving in New England, but very few. This Illinois bridge doesn’t get the respect it deserves! I understand another similar bridge still stands on a hidden abandoned section of this road in Illinois and I would like to find it someday.

  2. Pat Chase says:

    I am doing research on Johnathan Knight who is credited with surveying the National Road in 1827 from Washington, Pa and then all of Ohio, Indiana and maybe Illinois. I am from Knightstown, Indiana. Our town was named for Knight and he is credited with having platted the town. I have discovered that his original field notes for the survey of the road are in the Indiana State Library and I intend to examine those when I visit Indiana this summer. My initial research leads me to believe that he did not personally travel through Illinois in 1828 but he may have still supervised the endeavor. But he definitely did the work for our Hoosier state in 1827.

    • Good luck with your research! I don’t know much about the Illinois survey but I do remember reading somewhere that by the time they got to surveying that part of the route, money was running out for the overall project. I guess the road was surveyed all the way to St. Louis but was built only as far as Vandalia, and “built” is a very strong term for what they actually did to create that road in Illinois. I gather it was a dirt path with the trees cut down and the stumps grubbed out.

  3. Pat Chase says:

    Congress would have to appropriate more funds every secession to keep the project going. Legislators from states other than the National Road states would oppose the funding. Plus there were those who were opposed to all internal improvement funding. Henry Clay and the Whigs were for internal improvement. Knight would be elected in 1854 to congress from his home in Pa. as a Whig. The street in Knightstown that is now named Main Street(US 40) was named Clay Street in the 1827 plat.

  4. I could never do photography as a hobby, I’d be following every bunny trail of every photo haha IDK if it’s listed, I didn’t have enough criteria to find it. I’m a history buff because in Oregon some landscapes are relatively untouched-for example: one can imagine the Indian wars, we still have homestead buildings..I was TRYING SO HARD to leave short comments :}

  5. Ward Fogelsanger says:

    I took a picture at that same spot last year when I took pictures of the slab east of Martinsville that confirmed the concrete middle slab was 10 ft wide with two 4 ft concrete strips bringing it to 18 ft wide per the 1919 Illinois paving plan.There is another stone arch bridge just east of Clark Center where there is more concrete slab that splits from the brick alignment. It used to be visible from “ new 40” when I was a teenager. My wife chickened out on walking back through the woods to it then my stepbrother wouldn’t walk in there cause he gets poison ivy. I’m going to get to it next time I visit without their “help”. Have a Merry Christmas!

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