The National Road

The National Road is one of my favorite subjects, and I’ve driven it from one end (in Maryland; Baltimore if you’re not a purist, Cumberland if you are) to the other (Vandalia, Illinois). Here are my posts from the road, sorted more or less geographically from east to west. Click a state to see a list of posts from there:

Maryland • Pennsylvania
West Virginia • Ohio
Indiana • Illinois

A few general posts:


Ellicott City, MD


West Virginia


The S Bridge at Blaine


1931 gas station building


Abandoned National Road

20 thoughts on “The National Road

  1. Anita Monson says:

    I enjoyed your blog post, “The Dixie Highway in Western Indiana”. Do you know if there are any old alignments of Dixie Highway in Illinois?

  2. Hello, Jim. Enjoying your blog on National Road articles. I just took a few shots of the abandoned bridge just west of Plainfield, IN, and will have a post on them later next week.

    [I, too, am a Rose grad – class of ’78!]

  3. John Alan Rogers says:

    Hi Jim I’m from Brazil Indiana, and wondered if you knew about Paul Pickett’s book Soul Balm. He was born in 1869 and lived right by the old national trail just west of Reelsville. In fact he would have lived close to the old U.S. 40 bridge that crosses Big Walnut Creek. I guess before the August flood of 1875 there was a toll bridge that crossed the creek just a little north of this bridge. Paul loved the road, and the creek. I know this area well, and even kayak and swim in the creek. Really like your blog Alan Rogers

    • Alan, Reelsville is one of my favorite places on the entire National Road because of all the old-alignment and old-bridge goodness happening there. I don’t know of Paul Pickett and his book, but will definitely look it up. Thanks for stopping by!

      • John Alan Rogers says:

        Jim Thought i would also tell you about the 46 steel bridge over ell river at Bowling Green. Their going to build a new bridge, and they want to use the old bridge in Brown co. Indiana. Locals here want it to stay alongside of new bridge, and are trying to save it.

  4. Dave says:

    Being Canadian, I had never heard of the National Road before I stumbled across your blogs. I must say I’m now hooked on the old road! Now there are two roads I have to drive someday: Route 66 and the National Road!

      • Dave says:

        Thanks! I was wondering how much time I should allow for the drive. I was thinking about starting in Baltimore and heading west from there. I want to take my time and see all the historic bridges, buildings, old alignments, etc.

        • I did MD and PA in one day and wish I’d spent 2-3. I did Ohio in 3 days; that was about right. You could do Indiana in 1-2 days and Illinois in 1 day, 2 if you go all the way to St Louis. (The NR was built to Vandalia but was surveyed to StL; US 40 is said to generally follow the survey.)

  5. Hi Jim. Thanks for your sharing your love of the National Road with us. I though you would be pleased to know that the National Road Heritage Foundation is in the processing of opening an official National Road Museum in Boonsboro, Maryland. We are moving into the fabrication phase of exhibits.

  6. Joyce Stotts says:

    Hi Jim, I am still laboring on my 1856 novel which starts out on the National Road and continues on Boones Lick and the Santa Fe Trail. As an “old” history teacher I like for things to be as authentic as possible. Here’s a couple of questions: Do you know the age of the beautiful Congregational Church you photographed and posted in your blog? Also, what year did the brick begin to be used on the Illinois section of the road? BTW, your articles are giving me just the historical background I need to write my Illinois chapters. Thanks for such a straightforward and interesting site. JAS

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