The brick National Road and US 40 east of Marshall, Illinois

I’ve written about the National Road in Illinois many times before. But as I work to deprecate my old Roads site, I need to bring a few articles about the road in Illinois from there to here. This is one of them. This is based on recent research and several visits: two in 2007, one in 2009, and one in 2014.

As you drive west into Illinois on US 40, it’s easy to see sections of the 1925 brick alignment of this road lying abandoned alongside it. The road varies in condition. Some of it was removed and some of it is overgrown. The bridges were all removed so people couldn’t drive the old road anymore. Despite that, you can still reach some segments with your car, as this westbound 2014 photo below shows.

Abandoned brick road

After you enter Illinois and get past where I-70 intersects with US 40, this is actually the first segment of the brick road that you see. Construction of the current US 40 in the 1950s disrupted what had been a curvy section. I’ve filled in where the brick road used to go. All that’s left here are three short segments — one at each end south of US 40, and one in the middle north of US 40. I’ve highlighted the missing road in green. Ignore where the map below shows “Old National Hwy” — it’s incorrect, except at the eastern end.

Bing Maps, 2021

This eastbound photo from 2014 shows where the middle section ends at current US 40.

Abandoned brick road

Here’s this segment westbound. This is probably the best-kept segment of this old brick road. The house at the end was, at the time, a radio studio. I got to visit the owner of this station on a trip in 2007, and he told me about the dangers of this old highway. Read the story here.

Abandoned brick road

As this road approaches Crooked Creek, which is on the left end of the map excerpt above, the road is blocked with a mound of debris. It’s mostly chunks of concrete, which I suspect was taken from the road bed here. 2007 photo. I’m only pretty sure this photo is from Crooked Creek — I didn’t do a great job of taking notes, and I’m sure I’ve inaccurately geotagged some of my photos.Westbound photo.

Abandoned National Road

The roadbed beyond leads to these two posts. I’ll bet at one time a “Bridge Out” sign was strung between them.

Abandoned National Road

We walked to Crooked Creek’s bank and looked across. We could see evidence of the bridge that once stood here. Westbound photo.

Abandoned National Road

Beyond Crooked Creek lie a couple segments of the old road still in use to access the farms they border. Eastbound photo.

Driveable brick National Road segment

On one of my 2007 trips, the Department of Transportation used a segment of the old road to store Jersey barriers. Westbound photo.

Jersey barriers on the abandoned National Road

On the 2007 trip with my friend Michael, I drove a stretch of this old brick road while he filmed it. I’m pretty sure it was in or near this area. Michael filmed me coming in from the east.

Most of our driving was on modern US 40, which gave us a strong feeling of “westbound lanes.” The road looked like it had been built to be one way westbound. We wondered if Illinois had planned to make a US 40 expressway here, with the idea to build the eastbound lanes over the old brick road. I feel sure if that were the case that when I-70 went on the drawing board, Illinois realized that a US 40 expressway made little sense as that traffic should follow I-70 instead. As a result, historic brick pavement remains.

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8 responses to “The brick National Road and US 40 east of Marshall, Illinois”

  1. Route66Fan Avatar

    I’ve been on this section of US 40 back in 2002 & remember seeing some of the brick sections. I’ve also been across the covered bridge at Greenup, ILL.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      That’s such a cool bridge. I’ve got posts about Greenup coming up in this series.

  2. Ted Kappes Avatar

    One of my uncles told me that he watched the bricks being laid for a section of Rt 36 when he was a kid. I almost couldn’t believe that they would use brick for such a long road.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Crazy to contemplate, isn’t it? So labor intensive.

  3. Michael Avatar

    That is indeed Crooked Creek.

    The barriers were east of Marshall on what I believe is now labeled Crooked Ln. I know there had been gravel piles on the road west of Armstrong UMC at one time, but that section would be missing the trees on the right (north) in your photo.

    The video was shot from the driveway just across from N Baytown Rd WEST of Marshall. There is a curved concrete alignment just south of the straight brick alignment you drove.

    Interestingly, my next set of photos weren’t for another 1.75 hours at Effingham.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thank you, Michael! I very much appreciate you setting the record straight.

      That curved concrete alignment, I found out later, was a roadside rest stop.

      1. Michael Avatar

        Interesting. That seems like an odd place to me so close to Marshall.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          It is odd.

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