Explore the Ohio National Road
The Ohio National Road (State Route 40) is part of the “Road that Helped Build the Nation”. As America’s first federally-funded highway, the national road, also known as Route 40, spans over 700 miles, including 227 miles through 10 counties in Ohio. In eastern Ohio, many old road segments still pass through Pike towns and along hilltops and ridges. Others are entirely abandoned and isolated artifacts on the landscape. Occasionally the road includes U.S. 40’s successor I-70. Until it reaches Zanesville, the National Road may also occasionally encompass or parallel the route of an even earlier road, Zane’s Trace. In Belmont County, the National Road will take you past historic buildings, old segments of the road, quaint Route 40-era hotels, and scenic wildlife areas. The following are just some of the sites you can see on Route 40 through Belmont County which takes you from Bridgeport in the east at the border of West Virginia all the way to Hendrysburg in the west at the Guernsey County border.
In Blaine, a 1918 brick paved section of National Road (now Pasco Road) can be seen/ a unique mile markers identifies the entrance to Pasco Drive. The Blaine Hill “S” Bridge, constructed in 1828, is the oldest documented standing bridge in Ohio. In 2001, the Ohio Legislature officially designated the Blaine Hill Bridge as Ohio’s Bicentennial Bridge. It was restored and rededicated in 2005.
In St. Clairsville (Belmont County’s seat) you will find many impressive historic buildings including the Benjamin Lundy House (164 E. Main St) a pre-1815 three-bay I-house where Lundy formed an abolitionist society; the Belmont County Courthouse and Belmont County Heritage Museum (both designed by noted architect Joseph W. Yost); and the Clarendon Hotel built on the site of an earlier National Road tavern. You can learn more about the National Road and the towns that it passes through at the Heritage Museum.
Just west of St. Clairsville is a well-preserved bricked section of the original roadbed that was bypassed when the road was upgraded in the 1920s. The Great Western Schoolhouse (on the campus of Ohio University Eastern) is a charming brick, one-room schoolhouse constructed in 1870. On a rise next to the school is the brick tavern known as Lentz Tavern.
The village of Morristown, a well-preserved example of a Pike town and National Register Historic District. Portions of the original brick national road can be seen here and there is also a spot where you can see the brick road, Route 40 and I-70 – three generations of travel history!
Leaving Morristown and heading west until 40 dead-ends at Stillwater Creek you will find Egypt Valley Wildlife Area, a 14,300-acre public hunting and fishing area managed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Its southern boundary lies along U.S. 40 between Morristown and the Guernsey County line.
Hendrysburg, founded in 1828, is the birthplace of William Boyd who played serial cowboy Hopalong Cassidy. If you watch the latest Quentin Tarantino movie, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” you will see one of the main characters collecting Hopalong Cassidy mugs. Hendrysburg is another good location from which to view three generations of road building, as an old bricked segment of National Road is located here.
For a free copy of A Traveler’s Guide to The Historic National Road in Ohio and more information about the Ohio National Road Association (and how you can become a member) visit www.ohionationalroad.org.