Day 10: July 10, 2006
The Last Bridge



This is Marshall, one of the towns photographed by George Stewart in his 1953 book. I mimicked Stewart's shot when I passed through and thought in unnecessary this time. But it's like photographing the Gemini Giant. No matter how many pictures you have and how little things have changes since you took the last one, get near there with a camera and you just can't keep from clicking. So here's my most recent version of Stewart's Marshall, IL, picture and, as a bonus, the block to the east of it. I bet those buildings hardly ever get photographed.

I stopped in Greenup and wandered into the Historic Greenup Depot where Bobbie and Thelma were working through a newly received collection of photographs. As I looked through the displays, Bobbie offered to unlock the depot so I could have a look. "Men usually like the train stuff", she said. The "train stuff" included items from just about every period of the depot's 1870 through 1967 existence. The Historical Society bought it for $25 in 1973 and moved it to its present downtown location in 1992. The depot also contains an elaborate model train layout (That's where the Rock City barn is.) and a National Road room with some vintage photos on the wall.

I asked Bobbie about the balconies that identify the town and she explained that they were people's front porches. The first floor of most of those buildings were occupied by businesses. Living quarters were on the second and the balcony was where folks might sit or children play.

Cumberland County people are rightfully proud of their "retro" bridge. Built in 2000, the county opted to build something close to the bridge that was here in the 1830s and not like the metal bridge they were replacing. The bridge is on the old National Road so I would have found it without Bobbie's help but I wouldn't have known of the great view of it from "new 40". As she described how I should drive through the bridge then swing around to pick up the newer road, her body went through each turn. With her directions, I had no trouble getting to the ideal viewing point.

Near Effingham, two major landmarks are visible from where US-40 passes under I-57/I-70. One is the former Dixie Trucker's Home and the other is a 197 foot cross. Trees prevent you from viewing them both without moving but you need only move a few yards. I'm writing this after I've returned home and passed through here on the interstate. The Trucker's Home appears to be completely deserted.

The Illinois Madonna of the Trail is at the end of the "official" National Road. Under the federal government, the road was surveyed to Vandalia even though it was not built. This was the Illinois capital when surveyors first headed west from Wheeling but it was long gone by the time the road reached here.

This building was completed in 1836 and used as the capitol for just three years. Vandalians seem to miss no opportunity to mention that Abraham Lincoln served as a congressman in all three of those sessions despite the fact that his primary accomplishment during those years was to get the capital moved to Springfield.

The interior shots are the Supreme Court (containing the building's only carpet), the Secretary of State's office, and the representatives & senate rooms. The last picture is just me and my buddy Abe.

The original plan called for the road to continue on to the Mississippi at St. Louis but squabbles of the route helped kill any hope of a National Road west of Vandalia. Roads were eventually built, of course, and the Historic National Road Byway is signed all the way to Eads Bridge. The road through here is typical of early auto routes. Sometimes it follows close by rail road tracks and sometimes it goes right through fields of corn. There are sections that are totally abandoned, replaced by a newer road, and other sections survive and run along the latest expressway.

US-40 and the byway go right through Cahokia Mounds; Actually passing between the museum and Monk's Mound. The steps go up Monk's Mound. That dot at the top of the steps is a man who jogged up those steps just before I took the picture. I've walked up those step. Jog up them? Wow!

The Historic National Road Byway ends at the river. I stopped under Eads Bridge with the arch on the other side of the Mississippi and the Casino Queen beside me. This concludes the official portion of my journey.

So now I'm into the unofficial portion. I've been using a new GPS unit on this trip and slowly figuring it out. It likes telling me how to get somewhere and is less happy with me telling it how I want to get there. It has really aggravated me by locking up a few times but I believe those were in response to me asking it deal with rather long routes. I've learned to deal with it and now I let it show off. Luna Cafe, I told it. Right this way, it responded and quickly led me to the familiar bar on old Sixty-Six. I looked at the sky and put the top up before going in to empty a couple of longnecks. The car and ground were wet when I returned. On the expressway, I was pleased to see signs letting folks know the historic route is nearby and accessible.

I had asked about Jay's Inn while I was in Vandalia earlier in the day and got good input. When the Vandalia exit came up, I decided that would be where the day ended and I found another independent motel worth recommending. Great value (my room was closer to $40 than to $50), spotless, and with all the goodies (microwave, fridge, & wifi). There's even a restaurant next door that is run by the same family and offers the same quality & value. Pictures from my stay are here.

It was raining this morning when I got up and it has rained all the way home. That's the way to end a vacation.

[Prev] [Site Home] [Home] [Contact] [Next]