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 west of St. Clairsville, US 40 passes under I-70 twice. Then a brief old alignment passes through unincorporated Lloydsville.
This area is rich in old alignments. Three more follow in rapid succession – one through little Morristown, and one on either side.
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.
Here’s how the road curves in from the east.
Here’s the view from the air. Simply put, I-70 was built here along the alignment of US 40 and the National Road.
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.
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.
Turning around from there, it becomes apparent that the old westbound lanes were abandoned.
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.
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.
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.
This through-the-windshield shot shows what County Road 40A is like.
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.