Over Memorial Day weekend in 2011, my dog Gracie and I explored the National Road all the way across Ohio. That road is now US 40 in most places. I’m bringing the long trip report over from my old Roads site.
We roadfans say we’ve “clinched” a road when we’ve driven it end to end. Some roads are easier to clinch than others. I clinched the Michigan Road here in Indiana over several trips one summer several years ago, but I never had to leave the state to do it. The National Road (the nation’s first federally funded highway, built between 1811 and 1838) is a little more of a challenge as it stretches across six states. I’ve been working at it, though. I began in Indiana in 2006, conquered it in Illinois in 2007, and drove it across Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia in 2009. But Ohio’s segment of the road has remained unexplored territory for me. It’s not that I haven’t tried to drive it. It’s just that the last time I entered Ohio on the road, I had an accident that totaled my car.
Over Memorial Day weekend of 2011 – a great weekend to get out of Indianapolis if you’re not a race fan, and I’m not – my dog Gracie and I sped along I-70 to Bridgeport, Ohio, where the National Road and US 40 begin their westward trek across the state. I spent three days driving the road, following every old alignment, photographing every old bridge, and stopping in many of the towns along the way. This is the story of that trip.
Every Friday to come for quite some time, I’ll detail this trip across Ohio.
I am indebted to Christopher Busta-Peck, who created detailed maps of the National Road’s original route across all six of its states. I followed his maps all the way across Ohio. You’ll find links to those maps on his excellent (but long defunct) blog 125 M to B: The National Pike and the National Road here.