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.
So far, the National Road in Ohio has passed through hilly terrain. After the road reaches Zanesville, however, the terrain begins to flatten out considerably, and the road becomes a lot straighter than it had been
Just beyond Zanesville, US 40 passes under I-70. An old alignment lurks directly north.
Many brief old alignments like this one remain between here and Columbus. But this one is noteworthy because the 1830 John Carnahen bridge is on it.
What makes this bridge interesting is that the builder left his mark on it. I found no other bridge on Ohio’s National Road so marked.
As long as there have been roads, there have been businesses that served the traveler. During the National Road’s early days, horses carried travelers or pulled them along in wagons or coaches. Inns dotted the road, providing a place for the traveler to eat and drink, care for his horses, and sleep. They appeared every ten miles or so – about the distance a traveler could expect to cover in a day back then. Several taverns still stand along the National Road, and remarkably a few of them still serve the traveler in some way.
Just west of Zanesville, not much past the John Carnahen bridge, two inns stand next to each other. The first is the Smith House, built in 1833 of sandstone block 18 inches thick. It served drovers and the livestock they walked to market.
Next is the Headley Inn. Usual Headley built the original part of the house in 1802 and added the two-story portion to the east in 1833, all of sandstone block. It was one of 10 stops for mail coaches to change horses along the National Road between Columbus and Wheeling. The Headley Inn and the Smith house are private residences today. (In 2022, the Headley Inn has become a B&B and winery.)
Just beyond these two houses is an almost forgotten old alignment, a little more than a mile long.
This segment of the old road feels remote and isolated.
Next, the National Road’s original path diverges again from US 40 on its way through Hopewell. I didn’t notice much to see, so I didn’t stop for photos. Unfortunately, I missed a stone bridge at the very beginning of this alignment. According to bridgehunter.com, it is a contemporary of the Carnahen bridge. I wouldn’t be surprised if Carnahen built it, too. A creek that used to run here was dammed at this bridge, creating the small lake you see in the image below.
Here’s this whole alignment, for context.
Then many remnants of an older alignment are visible, with some driveable, on either side of Gratiot.
The crazy thing about this section of the road is that it leaves Muskingum County for Licking County just east of Gratiot, then reenters Muskingum County partway through Gratiot– and then almost immediately leaves it again for Licking County. In the Muskingum County part of Gratiot stand two little bridges. The first might not be much more than a glorified culvert, but at least the railing is interesting.
Just beyond it stands the last stone bridge I found on the National Road in Ohio.
I’ve seen speculation that this bridge was also built by John Carnahen. Authorities agree that it was built in 1830, the same year as the known John Carnahen bridge. This one could use a little love, with some of its stones out of place and even missing.
Here’s the westbound view across this bridge.
Things get interesting in Licking County, as it becomes apparent that this old alignment was originally concrete.
Next: The concrete National Road in Licking County