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.

John Carnahen Bridge

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.

Imagery ©2022 CNES/Airbus, Maxar Technologies, USDA/FPAC/GEO. Map data ©2022 Google.

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.

John Carnahen Bridge

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.

John Carnahen Bridge

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.

Smith house

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.)

Headley Inn

Just beyond these two houses is an almost forgotten old alignment, a little more than a mile long.

Imagery ©2022 CNES/Airbus, Maxar Technologies, USDA/FPAC/GEO. Map data ©2022 Google.

This segment of the old road feels remote and isolated.

WB old alignment

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.

Imagery ©2022 CNES/Airbus, Maxar Technologies. Map data ©2022 Google.

Here’s this whole alignment, for context.

Imagery ©2022 CNES/Airbus, Maxar Technologies, USDA/FPAC/GEO. Map data ©2022 Google.

Then many remnants of an older alignment are visible, with some driveable, on either side of Gratiot.

Imagery ©2022 CNES/Airbus, Maxar Technologies, USDA/FPAC/GEO. Map data ©2022 Google.

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.

Little bridge

Just beyond it stands the last stone bridge I found on the National Road in Ohio.

Stone briege

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.

Stone briege

Here’s the westbound view across this bridge.

Stone 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

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10 responses to “The National Road in Ohio: The last stone bridges on the westbound road in Ohio”

  1. tbm3fan Avatar

    A traveler making 10 miles per day? Hmm, I can walk a mile in 15 minutes so 10 miles in 2 1/2 hours. That is a pretty short day for an ordinary traveler especially using horse or wagon. Now herding animals would be a different case.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The roads in the 1800s were pretty poor. Even a walker would struggle to hit 15 minutes per mile. There was a lot of driving animals down roads back in the day. There were also situations where animals pulled a cart, and people walked alongside the cart.

  2. Jim Grey Avatar

    Test comment

  3. Marc Beebe Avatar

    There are similar roadhouses here along the gold trail: the famous ‘mile houses’. Some of them survived and grew, like 100 Mile House. Others vanished or became mere points of interest (sometimes the inns still stand). Still more are ‘post-factum’ named points, like 93 Mile. One of these days I’d like to travel the route -not- in a hurry and photograph what history remains.
    Chances are those stone bridges will be around long after their modern replacements have succumbed to the effects of salt on concrete and steel.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Where there are old roads, there were roadhouses, and sometimes they survive. I’m getting to the point where I can fairly accurately pick them out as I drive old roads.

      The stone bridges need maintenance too, but they do seem less vulnerable to road salt, for sure.

  4. Jim Grey Avatar

    Another test comment

  5. Simon Casson Avatar

    Some clear Masonic markings on the bridge close up pic under John Carnahen’s name.
    At the bottom obscured by the grass is what looks like a square and compass while above it is a keystone motif with the letter G – a common masonic symbol.
    Checking with my father (a long standing Freemason) he suggests that Carnahen may have been a member of the Order of Mark Master Masons who would usually ‘mark’ their work in such a manner. Best wishes.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yes indeed. Thanks for adding these details!

  6. J P Avatar

    I have never been able to see the name of Zanesville without thinking of it as a hippie expression of awe and surprise.
    “Hey, look at that dog climbing the tree!”
    “Wow, that’s like Zanesville, baby!”
    Or maybe I have too much of a hangup on the word “zaney”.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I get you. But I’m not sure old Eb Zane would get you.

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