Like the Zane's Trace outing on March's last weekend, this is a drive with a National Road connection. Both could be considered side trips to the National Road drive that I hope to get in later this summer. I'm just doing the side trips first. However, unlike Zane's Trace, the Dayton Cutoff was not a predecessor of the National Road. It was a substitute. In one sense, it's too bad that the Dayton Cutoff is only about 60 miles long. Even with a late variation included, driving it is clearly a day trip. Day trips are typically covered here in a single page with little room for preamble and this unofficial branch of the National Road is deserving of preamble. The short story is that it tapped the National Road at Springfield and carried more traffic than the real thing all the way to Richmond. A longer version is here.

The Cutoff passed through downtown Dayton on Third Street and, west of Main, so did the National Old Trails Road. The original Cutoff followed a pretty straight line between Dayton and Springfield and joined Third Street several blocks to the east. The NOTR route from the 1920s is what I called a "late variation" and it's what I'm starting my day with.

The Third & Main intersection has been rather easy to spot since 1850 when the Montgomery County Court House was built on its northwest corner. An 1884 addition has already come and gone in the adjacent lot and that space is now part of a popular gathering spot known as Court House Square. The current working court house is several blocks away. The round pool is "The Fountain of Presidents" and it is surrounded by a plaque for each U.S. president that has visited here; Starting with William Henry Harrison who was here ten years before the courthouse (and a wee bit before he was president). I picked Abe Lincoln for my pool close up partly because he's a pretty important guy and partly because it let me include that great looking building across the street. The year 1902 is cast into the front of the ornate building and a cement panel on the left section shows the name "M J Gibbons". Similar panels on the other two sections appear to be blank. The "Justitiae Dedicata" blocks come from the courthouse that came down to produce Courthouse Square. On the internet, I've seen both 1881 and 1888 given as dates for the construction of that building. 1884 comes from a nearby plaque. Are you going to believe somebody's electrons or something cast in bronze?

The National Old Trails Road ran north on Main then east on First. Today, First Street is one way so it's a good thing I'm going that way. It crosses Canal Street where evidence still remains of why it's called that. The cleverly named Canal Street Tavern continues to showcase some of the best musical talent around and continues to accept cash only. The Class A Dayton Dragons, a Cincinnati Reds farm club, play just up the street and have a pretty classy scoreboard. Between the tavern and the ball park is Mendelson's Liquidation Outlet and that name really fits. Like Arlo said about a certain restaurant, "You can get anything you want".

Left on Keowee, cross the bridge and bear right on Valley, then follow OH-201 off to the left. It's Brandt Street here and will soon turn into Brandt Pike but you can't tell that at the intersection; Follow the state route signs instead.

Brandt Pike is not the most picturesque thoroughfare going. It isn't unpleasant to drive but doesn't offer a lot besides the business/residential mix of a typical suburban road. An exception is Carriage Hill Farm just north of I-70. There is a working 1880s farm here but the cows are allowed to sleep in on weekends and I was a few hours early. This place went onto my "To Do" list.

The NOTR joined the National Road at the east edge of Brandt and US-40 has long ago replaced them both. There is nothing particularly special about the intersection now and, except for a nearby tollhouse, probably never was.

Entering Springfield from the west, it takes a slight turn onto Main Street to stay on the National Road then it's about three quarters of a mile to the Pennsylvania House on the south side of the road. Built in the late 1830s, the inn sat between the branches of the National Road-Dayton Cutoff fork. Some serious restoration work is going on here with reopening this year a possibility but not a certainty.

The second picture was taken facing west on Main with Dayton Avenue - the Dayton Cutoff - branching off to the left. It's one way to a jog at High Street and the name morphing begins not far beyond. Dayton Avenue, Dayton Road, Dayton Springfield Road. Where the original route is interrupted by Wright-Patterson AFB, it passes through town as Broad Street. It emerges as Dayton Springfield Pike then enters Dayton as Springfield Street.

I find the building on the right of the photo interesting. Current home of Sidetrax Tavern, patrons report it was once a train station and is about a hundred years old. Great folks but not necessarily quotable historians. Observed facts are that it is wedged into the acute angle between Main Street and the Norfolk Southern and it's a pretty popular place with the locals. I've stopped here twice and both times found the dozen or so bar stools just about filled. There are also a few small tables and I have no doubts that those are frequently filled. Its west end encloses about eighteen feet. (I counted six panels that I took to be about three foot each.) The east end encloses just enough.

The hippo is in Springfield, the mound is in Enon, and there is some actual open space in between.

ADDENDUM: Although I somehow missed it on this trip, I later learned that one of the original Dayton and Springfield Turnpike mile markers is in Enon near the mound. Had I been a little more observant, a picture of the stone would almost certainly appeared in this panel so here it is.

A combination of airport and flood plain put a big dent in the original path of the Dayton Springfield Turnpike. The airport is the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the flood plain is there because of one of the dams built after the 1913 flood. (I've visited a couple of those dams over the last two weekends and the curious can check out those visits here and here.) In this instance, the dam did not exactly end a town's existence but it did cause one to move and was part of the chain of events that, in 1950, turned the towns of Osborn and Fairfield into Fairborn.

Huffman Prairie Flying Field is just north of where the road gets back on route and becomes Dayton Springfield Pike. It is actually on Wright-Patterson AFB but is open to the public. After getting off the ground at Kitty Hawk, this is where Wilbur & Orville perfected their invention and, more importantly, their flying skills. The corners of the odd shaped field are marked with large white flags and there are replicas of their first hangar and catapult. Today I lucked out and arrived as a replica of a 1911 Wright airplane was towed away. I first guessed that this was the flyable version that I had seen in its hangar near Springboro. The men towing the plane explained that, although it is owned by the same group, this plane was not made to fly.

An interpretive center for the field is just a bit further south. High enough to stay dry and offer a view of the field and Huffman Dam, this is also the site of the Wright Brothers Memorial. I skipped the interpretive center today but I've enjoyed it before and know that it is definitely worthwhile.

The last picture has nothing to do with the Cutoff, the Wright Brothers, or anything else in particular. In fact, the subjects are so distant that a description is probably required. By the road in front of the interpretive center, a horseman and a biker chat beneath the trees with their steeds resting a short distance away. The horse cools off in the shade while the motorcycle is stuck out in the sun. Just something you don't see everyday.

Another museum I skipped today is the National Air Force Museum. It's been years since I've been inside and I made a note to self to get back here soon.

I skipped those previously visited museums partly because I had plans of stopping at another Aviation Trail site, the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center. Springfield Street merges into Third Street and that, after passing this morning's starting point at Main, goes right to the center.

Until recently I thought that Paul Dunbar and the Wrights were often mentioned together simply because they were Dayton celebrities at roughly the same time but there's more to it than that. Orville and Paul were high school classmates and all were friends. There were also business connections when the Wrights were in the printing business and Dunbar had things, including a weekly newspaper, that needed printing. I was able to watch the orientation film, tour the entire center, and check out the Wright Cycle Company Building next door. But I ran out of time before I could get to the nearby Paul Laurence Dunbar Memorial. It closes at 5:00 and that's when I pulled away from the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center. Next time.

Third Street continues due west and US-35 eventually joins up. Thirty-five moved to a multi-lane bypass some years back but returns to the straight and narrow near the city limits. That lets me get a picture of what may be the longest straight stretch I've seen all day. From Dayton to Richmond, US-35 is the modern equivalent of the NOTR/Dayton Cutoff.

In New Lebanon, this roadside marker is the only sign I'm aware of that even hints at the history of the road. My understanding is that the whereabouts of the milestone referenced by the sign are unknown but that some other turnpike markers are "preserved". When, if at all, those will be publicly displayed is unknown to me.

ADDENDUM: Nov 5, 2009 - In the spring of 2008, I found a Dayton-Western Turnpike marker in a museum operated by the Preble County Historical Society. I've linked to it elsewhere but, in rereading this section today, I realized that this was a natural place for a pointer to that picture so here 'tis. The full tale is here.

Looks like Eaton, the "other" city responsible for the Dayton Cutoff, shares a birthday with the original National Road. Two hundred years of being ever so close. I've always liked the National Guard Armory in Eaton. You can't tell me that place doesn't look safe. The Preble County courthouse looks pretty solid, too.

Fort St. Clair State Park is a little west of town and about a half mile off of US-35. In 1791 and '92, a fort was constructed here to support Anthony Wayne's Indian campaigns. Six soldiers, all Kentucky volunteers, were killed in a 1792 attack and are buried here. Remember that William Henry Harrison who was the first U.S. president to speak in Dayton? Helping build the fort here was one of his first assignments after joining the military.

Since the route of the Dayton Cutoff became US-35, a claim could possibly be made for the Cutoff ending when 35 joins I-70. But surely no sane person would support that. The Cutoff is best represented by the straight line that was once US-35 and is now OH-320, Eaton Pike, and a few other names. The US-35/OH-320 intersection itself is anything but straight but working through to the state route is the right thing to do and you get a more relaxed view of the "Ohio Arch" on I-70.

A much better claim is possible for Eaton Pike's meeting with US-40 but looking for the straight line rules it out, too. Backtracking just a little to Roby Lane (tellingly, DeLorme SA9 calls this "US 35|Roby Ln") leads to a dead end at a nursery. I did not see any "private" signs but the nursery seems to have assumed possession. I chose not to walk through the balled trees.

Getting to the other side of the break is straight forward enough. Just drive there on something called Old National Road!! Once there, I could verify (No signs and no nursery stock.) what the map indicated - the break was for a railroad. Did new rails cut through an unused road or did a former crossing get obliterated when it was no longer needed? That's something to be sorted out some day, maybe.

The best current claim is here where Old National Road meets National Road but I've got a feeling that it wasn't always so. The third picture illustrates two things: 1) There is a good reason that you've been told not to shoot into the sun and 2) There is a straighter line. I'm thinking that the Dayton Cutoff might have once ended under that man made hill.

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