Road Trips

The National Road in Ohio: The disrupted road in Guernsey County and the crumbling Salt Fork S bridge

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.

Waymor Rd.
Waymor Road, old US 40 and the National Road

I-70 and the National Road cling to each other for 18 miles between Morristown and Old Washington in eastern Ohio. Sometimes the two roads parallel each other closely; other times, they’re the same road. On this map, the blue line is the National Road. (Thanks to fellow National Road fan Christopher Busta-Peck for creating it; go here to see it on Google Maps.) As you can see, it’s often hard to tell where the National Road stops and I-70 begins.

Map data © 2012 Google.

I followed as much of the old road as still exists. Overall it was a pleasant drive, for where the forlorn National Road remains, it is peaceful. I encountered not a single soul as I explored these miles. The National Road passes into Guernsey County at Fairview, where it is known as County Highway 967 and Waymor Road. That’s westbound Waymor Road at the beginning of this article.

Maybe a mile west of Fairview, the National Road’s path was destroyed by I-70. A series of rough county roads serve as a detour, albeit a wide one. In the map excerpt below, the National Road hugs I-70 as it enters from the east and exits to the west, but is gone in the middle.

Imagery © 2012 Digital Globe, GeoEye, USDA Farm Service Agency. Map data © 2012 Google.

West of the detour, the National Road is County Road 690 or Bridgewater Road. About four miles east of Old Washington I came upon the only S bridge on the entire National Road that you can still drive. US 40 bypassed it somewhere along the line, and later I-70 bypassed them both. Out here, old US 40 is Bridgewater Road.

Imagery © 2012 Digital Globe, GeoEye, USDA Farm Service Agency. Map data © 2012 Google.

Here’s the bridge on the ground. Check out that graceful S shape.

Salt Fork S Bridge

Here’s the bridge from the west. A plaque above the keystone reads, “1828 1936 In memory of the pioneers who built this S bridge – The Ohio Society Daughters of the American Revolution.” This bridge was built in 1828.

Salt Fork S Bridge

As I researched this bridge, I discovered that a photographer for the Historic American Engineering Record favored the same angle. The record at the Library of Congress suggests that this photo was taken after 1933, but the plaque from 1936 isn’t present. So this photo is very likely from between those years, and my guess is that it still carried US 40 then.

S bridges were built this way to allow a road that didn’t naturally approach a river or creek at right angles to cross it that way. It was less costly to build and maintain a bridge that crossed a river or creek squarely. This photo shows the southeast curve of the bridge.

Salt Fork S Bridge

My research also revealed that this bridge is in poor shape and needs considerable work to restore it to full stability. But still, it was great to be able to drive over this bridge.

In 2013, about two years after I made this trip, this bridge was permanently closed to traffic. Read about it here. At this bridge’s 2018 inspection, the most recent one as I write this paragraph, the bridge was judged to be in Poor condition, with its substructure in particular in Serious condition. The National Park Service is said to have declared this bridge to be deteriorating and unstable.

I understand that the construction of I-70 led to the demolition of other S bridges in the area. I have read that the S bridge in this postcard was one of the unlucky ones.

Notice that the caption says it was in Bridgewater, Ohio – given that I’m on Bridgewater Road, this bridge must have been nearby, but I can’t find the first hint of a town called Bridgewater. Did I-70 take both the bridge and the town? Perhaps an Ohio expert will read this and chime in.

Next: Old Washington, Ohio, on the National Road.

To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader six days a week, click here to subscribe!
To get my newsletter with previews of what I’m working on, click here to subscribe!

Standard
Road Trips

The National Road in Ohio: Old alignments in Belmont County

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.

Just past Hendrysburg
Stub of old alignment west of Hendrysburg

Just west of St. Clairsville, US 40 passes under I-70 twice. Then a brief old alignment passes through unincorporated Lloydsville.

Imagery © 2012 Digital Globe, GeoEye, USDA Farm Service Agency. Map data © 2012 Google.

This area is rich in old alignments. Three more follow in rapid succession – one through little Morristown, and one on either side.

Imagery © 2012 Digital Globe, GeoEye, USDA Farm Service Agency. Map data © 2012 Google.

I had my other camera suction-cupped to the windshield, so I shot video of the old alignment east of Morristown. I was astonished to find that it was one lane wide. I figure it was just heavily overgrown.

I shot more video as I drove through Morristown. There are some seriously old buildings here.

I also drove the old alignment west of it, but didn’t stop for photographs. I was eagerly anticipating what I knew came next.

In my early 20s I made an epic road trip from my home in Terre Haute, to Detroit to visit one friend, and then to Mississauga, Ontario, to visit another. From there I drove to Niagara Falls and then across central New York, dropping down into New Jersey, where I visited two other friends in Edison. Then I headed home, mostly along I-70. I was bored of the Interstate by the time I crossed into Ohio, and when I saw an exit for US 40 at St. Clairsville, I took it.

I got stuck behind an older gentleman in a 1960s Plymouth driving 15 miles per hour below the speed limit. This was worse! I got out my big Rand McNally atlas (which seems downright quaint now) to figure out how to get back onto I-70. The map showed that US 40 merged onto I-70 ten or so miles ahead, just past Morristown. It even showed that the road widened to four lanes a few miles ahead of the merge.

The slowpoke turned off, and in relief I put my foot into the gas pedal. I reached an intersection where signs said to turn left to reach I-70, but I blew by it eager to drive the four-lane US 40 just ahead.

I had the four-lane highway to myself. A rusty guardrail divided the eastbound and westbound lanes. Then I passed a US 40 reassurance marker covered in black plastic, and then a big green sign also covered in black plastic. Was the road closed? Had I missed a detour? My concern turned to fright as I rounded a curve at 65 miles per hour and found myself staring right into a hillside. With no warning, the road ended right at its base! I slammed on the brakes and came to a stop just ten feet away from the end.

Rand McNally was wrong. US 40 didn’t merge onto I-70 here; rather, I-70 was built over US 40, at least 30 feet up.

I returned to the scene of my fright on this trip. Here’s the old highway at its dead end. I’m told that the road is pretty much always flooded here now. Also, the dividing guardrail was removed at some point.

Dead end

Here’s how the road curves in from the east.

Dead end

Here’s the view from the air. Simply put, I-70 was built here along the alignment of US 40 and the National Road.

© 2012 Digital Globe, GeoEye, USDA Farm Service Agency. Map data © 2012 Google.

US 40 follows I-70 for about the next 18 miles, to the town of Old Washington. But a remnant of old US 40 and the National Road appears just a mile later, as it emerges from underneath I-70. It’s marked as Co. Rd. 102 and Mt. Olivett Rd. on this map. Before I-70, as it headed west it cut directly across the exit at State Route 800 and followed Co. Rd. 108.

© 2012 Digital Globe, GeoEye, USDA Farm Service Agency. Map data © 2012 Google.

Here’s an eastbound photo of where the old road resumes. Notice how the seam down the middle goes straight even though the road was later made to curve away to connect to another county road.

Mt. Olivet Rd.

Turning around from there, it becomes apparent that the old westbound lanes were abandoned.

Mt. Olivet Rd.

The routing of I-70 from here west to Old Washington did a real number on the National Road, but other bits and pieces remain as state and county roads if you know where to look. They can be a little challenging to follow. Old US 40 follows State Route 800 here, but the National Road took an even older alignment directly through Hendrysburg.

© 2012 Digital Globe, GeoEye, USDA Farm Service Agency. Map data © 2012 Google.

There’s not much left of Hendrysburg. I understand there used to be an S bridge here, but it’s long gone. This shot shows where the National Road’s alignment through Hendrysburg ends and meets State Route 800.

Just past Hendrysburg

Not far past Hendrysburg, State Route 800 curves northward. But to stay on the National Road and old US 40, you need to turn left onto County Road 40A. I’m sure that in US 40’s heyday, this was a straight shot, and you turned right here to stay on 800.

© 2012 Digital Globe, GeoEye, USDA Farm Service Agency. Map data © 2012 Google.

This through-the-windshield shot shows what County Road 40A is like.

County Road 40A

There’s more to explore along this alignment left behind by I-70, but the rest of it is in Guernsey County.

Next: A bridge shaped like the letter S in Guernsey County.

To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader six days a week, click here to subscribe!
To get my newsletter with previews of what I’m working on, click here to subscribe!

Standard
Road Trips

An earthen segment of Old State Road 67 and an abandoned bridge

NB Old SR 67 SW of Edwardsport

The original 1926 path of State Road 67 between Edwardsport and Bicknell, in Knox County in southwest Indiana, is jagged.

Courtesy Richard Simpson, https://intransporthistory.home.blog/2020/04/18/road-trip-1926-sr-67/

This isn’t surprising. In the early days, state highways were routed along existing roads. Especially on a road that runs southwest-northeast as this one does, zig-zagging was often necessary. Also, highways often had to be routed around existing farm boundaries.

The state always intended to straighten out these highways. I’m betting the current alignment of SR 67 here was built before the 1930s ended. I say that because so much of this original alignment is a gravel road. Most of the original Indiana highway network was not hard surfaced in its early days, and it wasn’t until the late 1950s that the last gravel highway was hard surfaced in Indiana.

SB Old SR 67 SW of Edwardsport

This is what Old SR 67 looks like south of Edwardsport.

SB Old SR 67 SW of Edwardsport

To my astonishment, right after I crossed current SR 67 on a north-south segment of this zig-zagged road I found this earthen road. Google Maps labels this as Pieper Road, but as you can see, it hasn’t been a road in a very long time. It looks to me like whoever farms this land uses this to access his fields, but that’s about it.

Dead end

This mound of debris blocked the way. This is usually a sign that a bridge used to be ahead but is now missing. However, in this case the bridge is still there.

Purdy Marsh Bridge
Purdy Marsh Bridge

This is the Purdy Marsh Bridge, a Pratt pony truss bridge built in 1905. I don’t know when it closed, but it received inspections through 2013. At that time, the bridge was considered to be in poor condition overall. Its deck and substructure were in serious condition, and the superstructure was in critical condition. In other words, this bridge was a basket case.

Purdy Marsh Bridge

Amusingly, there are stop signs at either end of this segment. As if anyone is going to ever see them.

Welcoming committee

The welcoming committee came out to greet me while I was on the bridge.

I turned my car around and drove north back to SR 67, which I followed to Snyder Road. I turned left onto Snyder, which is also the original alignment of SR 67 until it meets Pieper Road.

Purdy Marsh Bridge

Here’s the bridge from there, facing northbound.

SB Old SR 67 SW of Edwardsport

Here’s the last bit of Pieper Road southbound toward Snyder Road.

Welcoming committee

The welcoming committee came out again and met me directly.

SB Old SR 67 SW of Edwardsport

Here’s westbound Snyder Road from Pieper Road, the original path of southbound SR 67.

I’ve been exploring the old roads since 2006 and have seen a lot of exciting things — 100-year-old concrete and brick pavement, places where a road was clearly removed, plenty of abandoned bridges. But never have I ever come across an earthen segment of an old highway!

To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader six days a week, click here to subscribe!
To get my newsletter with previews of what I’m working on, click here to subscribe!

Standard
Road Trips

The National Road in Ohio: St. Clairsville

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.

St. Clairsville is about 5 miles up the road from the bridges at Blaine. And when I say up the road, I mean up the road!

St. Clairsville, OH

My chief impression of St. Clairsville was that it once had a grand age.

St. Clairsville, OH

The Belmont County Courthouse was remarkably difficult to photograph, even with my camera’s wide-angle lens, because the courthouse was so big and US 40 was so narrow. I couldn’t back up enough to get a good head-on shot.

St. Clairsville, OH

Many Old National Road milestones remain along the road across eastern Ohio. This one stands in front of the courthouse. The plaque attached to it says it was relocated. It probably wasn’t relocated far, as Zanesville is about 63 miles away via I-70.

St. Clairsville, OH

This is the 1890 Clarendon Hotel, which as of this writing was owned by the city of St. Clairsville and is undergoing restoration. It is called one of the oldest continuously operating hotels on the National Road.

St. Clairsville, OH

I really enjoyed St. Clairsville’s historic architecture.

St. Clairsville, OH

Next: Some old alignments of US 40 and the National Road in Belmont County.

To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader six days a week, click here to subscribe!
To get my newsletter with previews of what I’m working on, click here to subscribe!

Standard
Preservation, Road Trips

The 1893 Lamb’s Creek Bridge on Old State Road 67 in Morgan County, Indiana

My longtime friend Dawn and I resumed our annual road-trip tradition on October 1 as we explored the oldest alignments of State Road 67 southwest from Indianapolis, working our way to its endpoint at Vincennes. We made it about two-thirds of the way before it got late and we grew tired. I’ll share highlights from the trip here and there, and will write up the entire trip properly for my Friday road trips series in due time.

State Road 67 brushes past Martinsville just beyond its eastern boundary. About a half mile south of where you turn left to head into Martinsville, an old alignment of SR 67 splits off on your right.

About a mile from there southbound SR 67 crosses this terrific old bridge over Lamb’s Creek.

1893 Lambs Creek Bridge

Built in 1893 by the Wrought Iron Bridge Co. of Canton, OH, this is a Pratt through truss design. As I researched this bridge, I found its page at the Historic American Engineering Record and was amused to find that a long-ago photographer parked his car in about the same place as me for his similar image.

Based on damage I see in this photograph, the HAER photographer visited here before this bridge’s restoration, which was probably in the 2004-2006 timeframe based on the best information I can find.

I’m trying to recall how many Pratt bridges I’ve seen with cables for its diagonal members. I’m used to the diagonals being girders just like the framing of the truss here. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Pratt bridge where diagonals cross like an X at the center.

1893 Lambs Creek Bridge

Here’s a view of those cables.

1893 Lambs Creek Bridge

This is a pin-connected bridge. Here’s where several of the members come together overhead.

1893 Lambs Creek Bridge

Builder’s plates on either end are in terrific condition.

1893 Lambs Creek Bridge

The old highway continues its southwestward journey beyond the bridge. This narrow road is typical of the highways Indiana built in the 1920s. It’s probably 14 or 16 feet wide.

SB Old SR 67 towards Hyndsdale, IN

To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader six days a week, click here to subscribe!
To get my newsletter with previews of what I’m working on, click here to subscribe!

Standard
See Rock City

See Rock City
Nikon Df, 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6G AF Nikkor
2022

On State Road 67 just north of Spencer, Indiana, you’ll find this red barn. Rock City features enormous ancient rock formations and the ability to see seven states from atop Lookout Mountain, near Chattanooga, Tennessee. A number of barns in many states were painted with advertisements like this for Rock City during the attraction’s early days.

I follow the blog of David Jenkins, a professional photographer. One of his major projects was to photograph every Rock City barn that remained. He used paper records that Rock City kept and drove all over to find and photograph them all. He published a book of his photographs called Rock City Barns: A Passing Era. The book is out of print. You can find them used on Amazon but I think David might still have some new copies he’d be happy to sell you. Check out his blog here.

If you’d like to get more of my photography in your inbox or reader, click here to subscribe.

Photographs, Road Trips

single frame: See Rock City

An Indiana barn advertising a tourist attraction in Tennessee.

Image