Peacock Road

Peacock Road
Canon PowerShot S95
2011

When I find an old brick road, I seldom find much information about it on the Internet. But a lot is known about Peacock Road.

These bricks are part of the National Road in eastern Ohio. You’ll find them about 2.7 miles west of Old Washington, just off modern US 40.

During World War I, factories across the Midwest were in full production for the war. The railways were already jammed with their goods, and it became necessary to transport goods by truck. But most roads were dirt in those days; some were gravel and a few had been paved in hard surfaces. Making matters worse, road maintenance had often been deferred during the war. It was hard to find long-distance routes where the roads were in consistently good condition.

In Ohio, the National Road was a clear choice for overland trucking but for two unpaved sections in poor condition. One of those sections lay between Old Washington and Cambridge. In 1918, the state worked prisoners night and day for six weeks to create a hard-surfaced road here. They poured a concrete pad and then laid bricks onto it. This road is just 17 feet wide — consider that a standard single lane on an Interstate highway is 12 feet wide!

Ohio kept improving its roads in the years that followed. The state rebuilt this road in 1936, by which time it had become US 40. The new road bypassed what is now known as Peacock Road. It’s a ¾-mile segment of the 1918 brick road, left intact to serve a couple properties on it.

As you enter from the east, the first 1,000 feet or so of Peacock Road is gravel. I assume the gravel covers a deteriorated portion of the brick road. I made this westbound photo from where the bricks begin.

See Peacock Road on Google Maps here. This brings to an end my single frame series on brick roads.

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

Photography, Road Trips

single frame: Peacock Road

Peacock Road is a WW I era brick segment of the National Road in eastern Ohio.

Image
Road Trips

I continue to slowly update and refresh all of my road-trip posts, enhancing photos, clarifying text, and adding new details. I’ve now finished doing that for the many posts from my 2011 trip along the National Road in Ohio.

Peacock Road

Here are all of the posts:

Refreshed: posts about my 2009 trip along the National Road in Ohio

Aside
National Road and US 40 bridges at Blaine, OH

Two bridges at Blaine
Canon PowerShot S95
2011

One bridge was built in 1826, the other in 1932. One guess which is which!

Both bridges carry the National Road/US 40 over Wheeling Creek near Blaine in Belmont County, Ohio. It’s just five miles from the Ohio River, the border with West Virginia.

The lower bridge came first. It’s the oldest standing bridge in Ohio, and is the longest of the few remaining S bridges in the state. Notice its “S” curvature? This was done in the name of economy: it’s less expensive to build and maintain a bridge that’s perpendicular to the creek it crosses. They merely curved the approaches to meet the road.

This was just fine in the days of horses and buggies with their slow speeds. As automobiles took over, it became a hazard. Drivers had to slow way down to negotiate the S. Some didn’t slow down in time.

Moreover, west of this bridge lay a very steep hill. It was challenging for cars of the day to climb. I’m sure pedestrians and horses didn’t much enjoy the climb either!

The upper bridge made travel easier on three counts: it eliminated the S, it offered a wider deck (38.1 feet vs. 26.9 feet), and it created a gentler rise to the top of the hill.

I know of four other S bridges on the National Road: one in Pennsylvania (here) and three in Ohio (two here, the third here). That last one was still open to traffic when I visited it in 2011, and I drove over it. By 2013 it, too, was closed (here).

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

Photography, Preservation, Road Trips

single frame: Two bridges at Blaine

Two bridges on the National Road/US 40 in Blaine, Ohio.

Image
The S Bridge at Blaine

The S bridge at Blaine
Canon PowerShot S95
2011

This is one of my favorite road-trip photos. I just love the juxtaposition of the 1828 stone-arch S bridge against the 1933 open-spandrel concrete-arch bridge. Both are engineering and visual marvels in their own ways.

But what I love most about this photo is that my friend Jeff, in his orange shirt, cuts across the scene. He provides such visual interest, injecting orange and blue into an otherwise beige and green scene. He also shows the massive scale of these two bridges.

The newer bridge runs so much higher than the older one because it means to level out what had been a steep hill. The ascent from the end of the older bridge was quite challenging for cars of the day.

Photography, Road Trips

single frame: The S bridge at Blaine

.

Image
Baby, did you ever wonder?

Baby, did you ever wonder?
Canon PowerShot S95
2017

I’d been to Cincinnati before, but not in 30 years or so. The city was effectively all new to me.

Garrett and I stayed downtown, a few blocks, it turned out, from Fountain Square and this fountain made better known thanks to the opening sequence of the great sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati.

Photography

single frame: Baby, did you ever wonder?

Photo: Detail of the fountain made sort of famous in the opening sequence of the sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati.

Image
Road Trips, Travel

The John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge

Bridge technology has existed since ancient times, but no bridge could span wide gaps until the suspension bridge was invented in the early 1800s. Even then, the technology had to be refined and improved before it could span a gap as wide as the Ohio River. And so it wasn’t until 1851 that the first bridge across that great waterway was built: the suspension bridge at Wheeling, WV. Following it in 1866 was the Roebling Suspension Bridge in Cincinnati. Like the Wheeling bridge, it still serves.

Roebling Bridge

It was, as its name suggests, designed and built by famed suspension-bridge designer and builder John Roebling. Except that’s not the whole story.

Roebling Bridge

In 1894 the bridge’s owners paid William Hildenbrand to significantly rework the bridge. Retaining the original towers and cables, he replaced Roebling’s deck with a new, wider, metal deck, and added new steel cables to bear its weight. Work completed in 1898 without ever closing the bridge to traffic.

Roebling Bridge

And it turns out to be wrong to say this bridge is in Cincinnati. Only its north approach is. The rest of it — indeed, most of the Ohio River itself — is in Kentucky. So this is the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge of Covington, KY. That’s where we went to photograph this bridge, by the way. Memo to leaders in Covington: It’s too hard to park in your city thanks to the old-fashioned coin parking meters. Who carries change anymore?

Roebling Bridge

Garrett and I didn’t linger long on the bridge — it was 40 degrees with strong winds. Our hands and ears quickly grew cold. We walked out partway onto the pedestrian deck long enough to get some photos, including these above and below.

Roebling Bridge

When our hands and ears couldn’t take it anymore, we headed back to the car. But it was good to experience this bridge even for a few moments.

Other suspension bridges I’ve visited: Wheeling, Brooklyn, and — are you ready for this? — Carlyle, Illinois.

To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader, click here to subscribe!

Standard