Day 3: March 26, 2006
Birthday Party



During the First World War, some 75 miles of National Road in eastern Ohio were paved with brick to make it suitable for transporting military supplies. Several sections survive including this one leading into the town of Norwich. Norwich is also where Christopher Baldin died when the stagecoach in which he was riding left the road and overturned. That was in 1835 and the monument identifies Baldwin as Ohio's first traffic fatality. The identification includes the qualifier "on record" leaving open the possibility that one or more unknowns had previously been done in by a loose Conestoga or runaway ox cart without notifying the authorities. Maybe the absence of authorities had something to do with that.

S-bridges were a fairly common feature of the National Road and several survive between Zanesville and Bridgeport. One of the best examples is the Fox Run Bridge near New Concord. A small parking area is reached via a section of brick road that also leads to the well preserved bridge. The last two pictures show a bridge in very different condition. One end of the Peters Creek Bridge has started to collapse and the arch is filled with metal supports that prevent it caving in completely. Even in this deteriorated state, it is better off than those S-bridges that have completely disappeared.

This brick section of the National Road now bears the name Peacock Road. At some point in its life, it was covered with asphalt. Now, the asphalt is mostly worn away to expose the nearly 90 year old brick surface.

This bridge over Salt Fork near Melbourne is one of the few place where you can satisfy a desire to drive across an S-bridge. It's off of the main route now but has certainly seen a huge amount and an incredible variety of traffic in the approximately 180 years that it has stood here.

This is Morristown and the first picture is of the Black Horse Inn. As it approaches 200 years of age, it is for sale and appears in decent condition. Many buildings display wooden plaques, like this one at the Black Horse, to identify and date them. In general, I thought Morristown a fairly sad place; filled with some of the good and a lot of the bad that comes from being bypassed. The town dates from 1802 and was on Zane's Trace long before the National Road came through. (My failure to get a picture of Church Street/Zane's Trace is a real embarrassment.) Main Street seems to be reverting to its original state with long stretches of gravel on the former National Road section. There are some signs of a care population. Across the street from the Black Horse is a well maintained house and a nice car complete with vanity plate. But the adjoining I.O.O.F hall could do with a lot of work and, back on the Black Horse side of the street, a neglected double wide I-house is fronted by a jacked up car with no license plate at all.

Built in 1828, the Blaine Hill Bridge is believed to be the oldest standing bridge in Ohio. Next to it, the 1933 viaduct carries US-40 traffic. Even higher, sits I-70 and, although the road itself cannot be seen from the old bridge, semi-trucks are quite visible as they pass by on the interstate.

I entered West Virginia just so I could drive over that wonderful old suspension bridge then jumped on I-70 to get back for the open house at the National Road Museum. The online information gave a start time of 2:00 but the actual time was something much earlier. When I arrived around 1:30, the parking lot was overflowing and the museum was definitely crowded. Refreshments were served and the entire museum was available for viewing. The Ohio Historical Society has published an excellent traveler's guide and its authors, Doug Smith & Glenn Harper, were in attendance; Signing copies and giving short presentations. Russell Poole was also there signing copies of his new photo book, America's Road, and several road related organizations had representatives manning tables. There was even background music from this talented trio.

The open house was the trip's finale and I left it to follow expressways home. After days of skies that were usually grey when they weren't producing some form of wetness, the sun was out when I headed home; Just in time to be in my eyes.

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