Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Route 40’

National Road S-Bridges Preserved

Middlebourne Bridge 1903

Salt Fork Creek S-Bridge 1903

     Follow the trail those early pioneers took from the Ohio River to beyond New Concord and visit four S-Bridges and two stone bridges along Route 40. While you can no longer drive on any of these S-Bridges, you can walk on their bricks and think back to the difficult times those early pioneers must have faced as they headed to Ohio and westward.

S Brick Road and Stone Walls

Brick road and stone walls at Peter’s Creek

     “The Main Street of America” began as a dirt road. Next, they tried logs and many called it a Corduroy Road, but it was very rough. Crushed stone was added called macadam and finally, much of it was paved with bricks.

S Bridge diorama in Zane Grey Museum

National Road bridge diorama at National Road/Zane Grey Museum 

      The National Road was one of the first paved roads across the state of Ohio. While it began in Cumberland, Maryland in 1817, it wasn’t until 1825 that the road was built across Ohio until it reached Vandalia, Illinois in 1838. Stagecoaches and Conestoga wagons were the two most common ways of travel, but many rode horseback or walked.

     There are many reasons people say they built the S shape. Some claim it was to stop runaway horses, to go around trees or even that the builders were inebriated. The reason was simply an engineering decision.

   

S Bridge sign at Middlebourne

1938 sign on Salt Fork Creek Bridge: In memory of the pioneer who built this “S” bridge.

    Where the road crossed a creek at an angle, a stone arch bridge was built at right angles to the streamflow. “S” shaped walls of cut stone were then built to direct traffic around the jog and back into line with the road on the other side. It also made work easier for the workers as they worked from each side of the creek. The brick roadway made the bridge extra durable.

     Here is a short description of the location of each of those S-Bridges and stone bridges along the National Road in the order of their appearance from east to west.

S Blaine Hill and Viaduct

Blaine Hill S-Bridge and Viaduct

     Blaine Hill S-Bridge – Crossing Wheeling Creek near Blaine, Ohio, its three stone arches span approximately 345 feet, the longest crossing of any bridge at that time with a 6.3% grade. This eased the climb out of the valley and was a marvel of engineering. All the original precisely cut stones are there today.

S Salt Fork

Salt Fork Creek S-Bridge

     Salt Fork S-Bridge – Just east of Old Washington, you can find a well-preserved S-Bridge, which was near the town of Easton. The bridge is built of randomly laid stone giving it a road width of 26 feet. It was closed as recently as 2013.

S Bridge Cooks Run

Cooks Run Stone Bridge

     Cooks Run Stone Bridge – Only remnants remain of this abandoned stone bridge. When a new bridge was built over Cooks Run, the remains of the old bridge were left underneath. It can be seen about 500 feet off Route 40 about 2 miles east of Cambridge on the north side of the road.

Crooked Creek Stone Bridge

Crooked Creek Stone Bridge

     Crooked Creek Stone Bridge – On Manila Road, you can still drive over this Crooked Creek bridge. This is south of Route 40 on the other side of the railroad tracks across from the patrol barracks. While the entrance to the bridge has a large curve, the bridge itself is not s-shaped.

S Peters Creek

Peter’s Creek S-Bridge

      Peter’s Creek S-Bridge- This is one of those bridges that many of us pass quite often on the north side of Route 40 near Pike School at Peter’s Creek Road. There is a small park area to have a picnic or just relax.

S New Concord

Fox Run S-Bridge

     Fox Run S-Bridge – On the west side of New Concord, this bridge has been restored and a small area made into a parking and picnic area. My sons fondly remember going here with their grandfather to enjoy an ice cream treat from the New Concord ice cream stand.

DSC04532

Historic signs can be found at the S-Bridges.

     Four of these bridges have been found worthy of restoration to preserve the history of our ancestors while others have disappeared. This road was the only link between the east coast and the western frontier during the 19th century. There were four tollhouses in Guernsey County to help with the great expense of building this highway. Congress spent almost $7 million building this 620-mile road.

     In 1832 a sample of tolls was listed as:

Score of sheep or hogs……$.05

Score of cattle……………….$.10

Horse and rider………………$.04

Sulky drawn by one horse.$.08

Chariot or coach…………….$ .12 1/2

S Wheeling Creek

Blaine S-Bridge over Wheeling Creek

     Take a historic ride along Route 40 in Ohio starting at Blaine, where you can see the history of the developing highway that Abraham Lincoln traveled on trips from Illinois to Washington, D.C. Beside the Blaine S-Bridge is the BlaineViaduct which was built when the S-Bridge could no longer handle all the auto traffic. Just a short distance to the south you will find today’s I-70. From the S-Bridge, you can clearly see the three generations of our national highway system.

     Move on to Old Washington and end east of New Concord to view the route of those early pioneers. Imagine the wagons loaded with goods and crops as they traveled the Old National Trail. Perhaps you would have enjoyed being on the road at that time or maybe you would prefer the comfort of today’s travel.

Middlebourne – Half Way Between on the Old National Road

Middlebourne Entrance

Today Middlebourne is a small, quiet town but still has businesses at the edge of town.

The small town of Middlebourne, originally called Middletown, was relatively centrally located between Zanesville and Wheeling along the Old National Trail, today known as Route 40. When Benjamin Masters discovered that the National Trail was going to run right through his farm, he laid out a town believing that it would be a prosperous place.

That Old National Trail is often considered to be the road that helped build the nation. It was the nation’s first interstate highway crossing six states as it stretched from Maryland to Illinois.

Hays Tavern 001

In 1826, Hays Tavern was one of the best known hostelries on Turnpike Street in Middlebourne.

In 1828, William Hays established Hays Tavern, a hotel and barroom in Middlebourne. It was one of the best known hostelries on the National Trail, also called Turnpike Street, because of its bountiful meals, barroom, barns for wagoners, and lots for the drovers’ stock. Even Henry Clay stopped here occasionally on his way from Kentucky to Washington.

Bridgewater Bridge 001

The stone Bridgewater S Bridge, just west of town, was built in 1828.

A popular stop along the way just west of Middlebourne was the Bridgewater S Bridge built in 1828. When a bridge was needed to cross a stream at an angle, they built a stone arch at right angles to the stream. Then added a curve at each end to make the road meet smoothly. Thus, the S Bridge, which saved money and was a stronger structure.

Their first post office was established in 1829 and operated unto 1917. At this point, the name was officially changed from Middletown, which was also the name of a larger town in Ohio, to Middlebourne.

By 1850, their population was 267 and it grew for a while after that. The village had several stores, three or four churches, doctors, a lawyer, and even a brass band. But when the railroad was built six miles south of town, population seemed to wane. Eventually Route 40 and I-70 bypassed Middlebourne.

Middlebourne Methodist Church

The Middlebourne Methodist Church recently celebrated their 160th Anniversary. Standing in front are Edith Carter, Paul Carter, and Beverly Watson, all faithful members of the church.

The Middlebourne Methodist Church was founded in 1840, but the church was actually built in 1857. A unique feature of the church is its double doors in the front. At that time, women were to enter the church through the door on the right, while men entered through the door at the left. Inside their hand hewed pews had a divider between them to keep the women and men separate inside the sanctuary. The divider has been removed – in some of the pews.

At that time, preachers who delivered sermons in various towns were called circuit riders. Middlebourne services were conducted by circuit riders in the homes of various members until the church became a reality.

Middlebourne Prayer Bears

Edith Carter holds a Prayer Bear, a special project of their church today for the sick and injured who need a hug.

Many walked to church back then, while others drove their horse and buggy. The Old National Road, today’s Route 40, ran in front of the church, so often there might be a herd of cattle or sheep passing by along with a wagon train.

Paul Carter, who grew up in Middlebourne, is the oldest member of the Methodist Churh. When he was a youngster, there were about a hundred people in the congregation and six Sunday School classes scattered around the church sanctury. He remembers delivering the Daily Jeffersonian to his customers in Middlebourne for 18 cents a week back in 1947.

Middlebourne Sign 001Residents recall hearing stories about people getting stuck on the muddy National Road when rains poured down. Local farmers would then pull those early cars out of the mud with their horses for a fee. One local jokester would sometimes pour barrels of water on the road to make it muddy, so he could make money pulling cars out.

Charles Ellis Moore, a U.S. Representative from Ohio, was born near Middlebourne in 1884. Moore taught school in Oxford Township and graduated from Muskingum College and OSU School of Law. He also served as Prosecuting Attorney for Guernsey County before becoming representative from 1919-1933. Bob Secrest succeeded him.

Locust Lodge

In the 1930s when the automobile became more popular, Hays Tavern became Locus Lodge, a Home for Tourists.

Door of Penn Tavern 001

The doorway of Penn Tavern was said to be one of the most unique doorways on the National Road.

Middlebourne Church inside

The only original building is the Methodist Church.

The only original building left in town is the Middlebourne Methodist Church, which recently celebrated their 160th anniversary. While attendance has dwindled, they still love their little church. Small country churches always hold special memories.

Take a country ride and enjoy the small town atmosphere of Middlebourne. Folks are friendly there!

Middlebourne, Ohio is located just off I-70 at Exit 193 along the North side of the highway.

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