Historic National Road

Historic National Road

Historic National Road has been designated an All-American Road by the Federal Highway Administration, which administers the National Scenic Byways Program. The National Road holds a special place in Belmont County Ohio’s history as well as the nation.

The National Road was the first federally planned and funded interstate highway. Crossing 6 states (Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois), the road linked older eastern communities with the emerging frontier settlements of the Northwest Territory. Two-hundred and twenty miles of the National Road runs through Ohio and a stone marker on the north side of every mile told travelers how many miles they were from Cumberland, Maryland, the beginning point of the highway. To date, over 83 of these mile markers remain along the original route.

The National Road became U.S. Route 40 in 1926. This federal route did not strictly follow the old road, but was frequently realigned and redirected to bypass small towns or to straighten and level the roadbed for faster and safer travel. Route 40 turned its attention to the automobile, and with all of its truck stops, diners, and motor courts, soon became known as the “Main Street of America.”

Historic National Road Landmarks

Marhefka Motors
879 National Rd
A 1930s Pennzoil Service Station typical of service stations along early U.S. 40.

The McGonigal Tourist Home
53789 National Road
Edward and Mary McGonigal operated a tourist home in this 1900 house during the 1920s and 1930s. a curbside gas pump stood beside the stone wall. In an age before large motels, numerous cabins camps and tourist homes lines U.S. 40.

Old Segment Road
A 1918 brick paved section of road, now Pasco Drive, can be seen here. A unique mile marker identifies the entrance to Pasco Drive.

The 1828 Blaine Hill Bridge
Enjoy your walk on Ohio’s Official Bicentennial Bridge… Ohio’s oldest bridge. Begin your reading both sides of the historical marker to understand the significance of the site, the area, and the extraordinary artifact you are about to walk upon.

Hillside Motel and Plaza Motel
Two well maintained examples of 1950s family owned roadside motels, each still open 24 hours a day, and each of which has flourished and survived to this day.

St. Clairsville National Register Historic District
Follow U.S. 40 to downtown St. Clairsville, the county seat of Belmont County. Originally known as Newelstown, it was platted in1803, over two decades before the arrival of the National Road. The St. Clairsville Historic District (East and West) Main Streets between Butler and Sugar Streets) is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Historic Landmarks include The Boroff House, Benjamin Lundy House, Belmont County Court House and Clarendon Hotel.

Great Western School House
45425 National Road
On the north side of the road just west of the university entrance in the one room school. This charming brick building was constructed in 1870 and was named for the proposed community of Great Western. The town, which was never built, was platted on land across from the school.

Brick Tavern
45425 National Road
One the rise next to the school is the brick Tavern. This large brick structure once featured a two story porch, and a large wooden awning or “stand” for sheltering wagons. Originally travelers could pull up in front of the inn. When the National Road was upgraded, a cut was made to level the road, leaving the tavern standing high above. Now owned by Ohio University, the building may soon undergo restoration.

Lloydsville and Jamboree in the Hills
A short distance west of the Brick Tavern, the old National Road diverges to the left and into Lloydsville, another Pike town. Continuing back onto U.S. 40, you will pass the site of the "Super Bowl of Country Music," Jamboree in the Hills. This is an annual four-day-festival of country music.

Morristown National Register Historic District
Church Street in Morristown actually predates the National Road and was part of Zane Trace. Morristown was platted by John Zane and William Chapline in 1802. It was named after Duncan Morris, an early tavern keeper and justice of peace. A major stagecoach stop, Morristown prospered during the heyday of the National Road, with approximately fifty businesses, including blacksmiths, saddlers, wagon makers, grocers, and hotel operators. Today it remains a classic Pike town with numerous brick and frame row-houses typical of eastern cities such as Baltimore and Philadelphia. Of particular note is the Black Horse Inn, located at West and Cross Streets and the National Road.

Hendrysburg Clark House
66539 Freeport-Old National Road
Built in 1828, this brick residence was once served as a drover’s tavern and still has outbuildings and a roadside well.

Location

Peacock Road
Cambridge, OH 43725