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.
After leaving the Salt Fork S bridge, to stay on the National Road I took the first left, drove under I-70, and then took the first right. The National Road is County Highway 670 or Easton Road here on its way to Old Washington.
After 18 miles of laying waste to Ohio’s National Road, I-70 finally relents at Old Washington. US 40 even rejoins the National Road here. The blue line is the National Road’s original path, but unfortunately you can’t follow it. You have to keep going on Easton Road until it becomes Range Road, take the first right, go over I-70, turn right at the T intersection, and then turn left onto Old National Road. Or, at least that’s how it looks like it works on the map. On the ground, I found this to be incredibly confusing. I drove around and around here before I finally stumbled upon a way to get into Old Washington.
You might think Old Washington is so named because it’s old. Well, it is old. It was laid out in 1805, before the National Road was built, as Guernsey County’s first settlement. But the town was actually named New Washington then. When the town incorporated some years later, the New was dropped and the town became just Washington. Then the U.S. Post Office got all worried that people would confuse Washington with another Ohio town improbably named Washington Court House. Thus Washington became Old Washington.
I drove through a lot of old little towns on this trip. So many of them were not even a shadow of their former selves, just a row of abandoned and dilapidated buildings. I drove right through them without stopping. But I stopped in Old Washington. It is what all those other old towns wish they could be. It is virtually a trip back in time to when the National Road was new, at least in terms of its buildings.
Most of them are very nicely kept. Many have simple designs.
Several have a tonier appearance.
The tonier houses share enough design details that I would not be surprised to find the same architect behind them.
While most of the buildings in Old Washington are brick, a few are wooden. This one could use a little love.
While Old Washington wasn’t exactly bustling the day I drove through, there were many clear signs of life, such as cars parked on the street, lamps in windows, and landscaping around many of the homes.
Someone was busy building a garage next to this house!
Sometimes a highway bypass is good for historic preservation. Transportation needs may demand a wider, straighter, or flatter road, but to achieve that in a town so often means destroying some of its buildings. US 40 was rerouted a block to the south at some point, allowing all of these great houses to remain. On the west edge of town, the old road comes to an end as US 40 curves around and resumes the National Road’s original alignment.
Next: Several old alignments, one of them paved in brick laid in the 1910s.