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.

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Personal

First Thanksgiving

A few weeks ago my brother and I scattered our parents’ ashes into the St. Joseph River in South Bend. Leeper Park hugs the river immediately north of downtown, and is a short walk from Mom’s childhood home. It was Mom’s wish that her ashes be scattered there. Dad wished only that his ashes be scattered, so we chose this place for him, too. We invited close friends and family.

We crossed a footbridge onto a small island just off the river bank, and released their ashes under this tree. Rick released Dad, and I released Mom. A persistent, insistent wind wanted to blow their ashes back, so we went slowly. Finally we finished, and their remains spread gently into the water.

My wife handed out flowers from large bouquets; carnations, roses, lilies, and daisies. Our guests took them gratefully and tossed them right into the water so they could float downriver with Mom and Dad.

It was good to share stories with everyone and shed mutual tears. Several of us then went to lunch together after and continued to stay connected over our mutual losses.

Thanksgiving was Mom’s favorite holiday. Until she handed off the reins to me six or seven years ago, she always made the family meal. It was the same every year, as the food tradition mattered so much to her. A well-set table also mattered to her and it was the one time we used the generational family china, glassware, and silver. When Mom passed the china down to my wife and me, we knew she meant for us to continue her traditions. We did.

Now, I may not. Those traditions don’t mean anything to my wife’s family, although they cheerfully went along with them these last several years. What’s left of my family don’t always come for Thanksgiving. This year especially, my two sons will spend Thanksgiving with their mom, as it’s the first since we lost their oldest sister Rana. It feels like we are free to make our own traditions. Or maybe we’ll make no traditions and just do whatever feels good every year. But no matter what we do, we’ll remember Mom on her favorite holiday.

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Photographs

18 wheels

Jeep wheel
Nikon N90s, 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G AF Nikkor, Eastman Double-X 5222 (at EI 250), Rodinal 1+50
Wheel
Nikon Nikkormat EL, 35-70 f/3.3-4.5 Zoom Nikkor, Agfa Vista 200
SS wheels
Canon TLb, 50mm f/1.8 Canon FD S.C., Kodak Gold 200 (at EI 100)
Patina
Canon AE-1 Program, 50mm f/1.8 Canon FD, Agfa Vista 200 (at EI 100)
Turned wheel
Yashica Lynx 14e, Arista Premium 400
1967 Pontiac Bonneville
Canon PowerShot S95
Wheel
Canon AE-1 Program, 50mm f/1.8 Canon FD, Agfa Vista 200 (at EI 100)
Polished tire
Canon T70, Canon FD 50mm f/1.8, Fujicolor 200
1975 Pontiac LeMans d
Canon PowerShot S95
1953 Packard Carribean b
Canon PowerShot S95
1965-1970 Datsun Fairlady SP311
Apple iPhone 5
1929 Ford Model A pickup
Canon PowerShot S95
International wheel
Canon PowerShot S95
1979-80 Dodge D-series Adventurer
Apple iPhone 5
Porsche snout
Canon AE-1 Program, 50mm f/1.8 Canon FD, Agfa Vista 200 (at EI 100)
1953 Buick Skylark
Canon PowerShot S95
1968 Buick GS California c
Canon PowerShot S95
64 Pontiac GTO
Kodak EasyShare Z730

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As autumn descended on Indiana in October, Margaret and I took our cameras on a long hike through Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis. This park is quite large, so much so that people sometimes mistakenly think it’s a state park. In fact, it’s an Indianapolis city park!

Eagle Creek Park is an easy drive from our home in Zionsville, and we visit two or three times a year to hike. Autumn is by far the most beautiful time to do that.

I made some photos there with my Nikon Df and the 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6G AF Nikkor lens attached.

Autumn in Eagle Creek Park
Autumn in Eagle Creek Park
Autumn in Eagle Creek Park
Autumn in Eagle Creek Park
Autumn in Eagle Creek Park
Autumn in Eagle Creek Park
Autumn in Eagle Creek Park

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Photographs

Autumn at Eagle Creek Park

Autumn color in a large Indianapolis park.

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When Margaret and I visited Madison, a town in southern Indiana right on the Ohio River, in October, I brought a lot of film. One roll was Fujifilm Velvia 50 in 120 that I loaded into my Yashica-12.

Autumn colors were in full display that weekend, and the sun was out in a partly cloudy sky. It was a terrific time to be shooting Velvia.

Here are the photos from the roll that I like best.

The Joy house
Downtown Madison, Indiana
Downtown Madison, Indiana
Horror festival
Autumn accoutrement
Livery Stable
House in Madison, Indiana
Lanier Mansion, Madison, Indiana

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Photographs

Madison, Indiana, on Fujifilm Velvia 50

Some brilliant color transparencies, scanned, from a visit to an old Indiana city.

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Blogosphere

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