single frame: Peacock Road

Peacock Road

Peacock Road
Canon PowerShot S95

When I find an old brick road, I seldom find much information about it on the Internet. But a lot is known about Peacock Road.

These bricks are part of the National Road in eastern Ohio. You’ll find them about 2.7 miles west of Old Washington, just off modern US 40.

During World War I, factories across the Midwest were in full production for the war. The railways were already jammed with their goods, and it became necessary to transport goods by truck. But most roads were dirt in those days; some were gravel and a few had been paved in hard surfaces. Making matters worse, road maintenance had often been deferred during the war. It was hard to find long-distance routes where the roads were in consistently good condition.

In Ohio, the National Road was a clear choice for overland trucking but for two unpaved sections in poor condition. One of those sections lay between Old Washington and Cambridge. In 1918, the state worked prisoners night and day for six weeks to create a hard-surfaced road here. They poured a concrete pad and then laid bricks onto it. This road is just 17 feet wide — consider that a standard single lane on an Interstate highway is 12 feet wide!

Ohio kept improving its roads in the years that followed. The state rebuilt this road in 1936, by which time it had become US 40. The new road bypassed what is now known as Peacock Road. It’s a ¾-mile segment of the 1918 brick road, left intact to serve a couple properties on it.

As you enter from the east, the first 1,000 feet or so of Peacock Road is gravel. I assume the gravel covers a deteriorated portion of the brick road. I made this westbound photo from where the bricks begin.

See Peacock Road on Google Maps here. This brings to an end my single frame series on brick roads.

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16 responses to “single frame: Peacock Road”

  1. J P Avatar

    I have enjoyed this series far more than I expected to.

    And oddly, it has taken this long to dawn on me that I once owned a tiny bit of brick road, as bricks were used for the floor of the detached 2 car garage that was behind my first house. The house dated to 1927 but the garage may have been newer, though certainly prewar.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Interesting! I wonder what made them choose brick.

  2. retrocrank Avatar

    Looking at Google maps, two comments/questions:
    1. do you think that the loop (starting with 55/Sundew Road directly across from the east end of Peacock Road) to Old Washington may have been the original through-EW-alignment? It appears to follows the land contours as opposed to the straightness of 40/Old National Road which required bridging 3 creeks and the associated ridge crossings.
    2. They ran the Google Maps car through that area at a particularly beautiful time of year. Late September through October is a superb time to explore the backroads of eastern/southeastern Ohio.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It’s possible that Sundew is the NR. It’s also marked as Zane Rd on Google Maps. In this county, the NR was laid out over the Zane Trace, a road built in the late 1700s. However, if you go about 1.3 miles east of the beginning of Peacock Road along current 40 you’ll find a sliver of road called Brick Road. I believe this to be more of the same brick road that is Peacock Road. However it is currently covered in asphalt. If Sundew was the original NR it was bypassed early, possibly even as part of the construction of this brick road.

      Here’s a photo of the east end of Brick Rd where it splits from 40.

      Brick Road isn't brick anymore

      1. retrocrank Avatar

        it would make sense that devoting the effort to brick the NR would have also included shortening the route. My guess is in the horse era, to some degree ease of terrain trumped directness when building roads, but that has clearly all reversed in the automotive era which drove paving – with brick in this case.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          The engineers on this project would probably have had to prove that it was cheaper to build new road than to brick the old alignment.

          Also, in the 1700s and 1800s, roads had to follow the terrain, there wasn’t the technology to do anything different. In the 1900s that began to change. The earth could be moved economically.

  3. brandib1977 Avatar

    Fascinating! I have been on that stretch of the modern National Road but had no idea this was just a little off my beaten path!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It’s easy to miss! But now you know all about it and can visit it next time you’re out that way.

      More photos from Peacock Road:

      1. brandib1977 Avatar

        I will do that! I’m actually hiking at Salt Fork State Park this weekend. I’ll go investigate if I can get an early start!

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          If you can, also check out Periwinkle Lane! It’s just east of Peacock Road. When I made this trip Google Maps didn’t have enough resolution to see it, but it does now: Periwinkle Lane is also paved in this brick.


          1. brandib1977 Avatar

            I’ll see what I can do. :)

      2. brandib1977 Avatar

        Oh….I love that barn picture! You don’t often see brick roads and barns.

  4. Rush Rox Avatar

    I found an 1870 map of Guernsey County that clearly puts the National Road on an alignment that coincides with Brick Rd, the northern end of Arrowhead Rd, Periwinkle Ln, and Peacock Rd, but not Sundew Rd. 1914 and 1916 county maps confirm this routing also. It’s possible, though, that Sundew Rd may have been used at some point in the National Road’s history. Jim’s mention of Zane’s Trace and the National Road’s origins could indicate the possibility of an earlier alignment that actually did follow what is now Sundew Rd. I’m dying to figure it all out.

    I have an interesting find to share from the highly-detailed 1870 map. It shows there is a distinct southerly dip in the Nat’l Rd just west of Old Washington. I believe this “dip” coincides with an unpaved two-track lane that presently runs southwest into a wooded area from the eastern intersection of US 40 and Sundew Rd. Heading west from there, the “dip” is faintly discernible in Google Earth imagery and aligns nicely with the eastern end of Brick Rd.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I do believe that two-track you mention is a remnant of the brick road. Check out this street view:,-81.4564576,3a,15y,207.43h,78.57t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1s64EKr54Tv_jwOZLxPfdNEA!2e0!!7i13312!8i6656

      Good heavens, but do I want to do the NR in eastern Ohio again. It was fabulous when I drove it last time and now I know so much more that I can go see.

      Also, just east of Peacock Lane I bet Wardeska Lane is another old alignment. Looking at the trace through the trees it looks like it ran just behind The Bear’s Den restaurant. I can’t quite make out how Wardeska connected to Periwinkle.

      BTW, on the ground Sundew is signed as Zane Rd. – it’s just got to be the old Zane Trace.

  5. Rush Rox Avatar
    Rush Rox

    You may have noticed that Google Maps has lines that probably represent, if only approximately, property boundaries. From the The Bear’s Den east It looks like these “boundary” lines may indicate an earlier alignment of NR. Except for roads and watercourses, what else would result in meandering property lines through land that is otherwise parceled out in mostly grid-like fashion? If the road did follow these meandering property lines, a section of Wardeska Lane is indeed on the old NR, as you suggested. Perhaps these boundary lines are the “road” connection you seek between Wardeska and Periwinkle Lanes. (Man, I gotta quit wasting my lunch hours with these little research projects!. Wait, no I don’t…)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I think you’re exactly right. The driveway next to the Bear’s Den was NR, and then the NR ran behind the place along the property lines to connect to Wardeska and Periwinkle.

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