Tag Archives: ohio

Mile 204 – Zanesville Y-Bridge, Zanesville, Ohio

The bridge as viewed from Putnam Hill Park.

The bridge as viewed from Putnam Hill Park.

Probably one of the more unique infrastructure sights along the National Road is the Y-Bridge in Zanesville. Spanning the Muskingum River at its intersection with the Licking River, the bridge serves as a major traffic artery for the downtown area of the city. What makes this bridge special is the fact that there is a three-way intersection in the center of the bridge, controlled by a stoplight.

The bridge from Muskingum River Parkway State Park.

The bridge from Muskingum River Parkway State Park.

Though the history of a y-bridge at this location spans almost 200 years (no pun intended), the current bridge was built in 1984 – the fifth such structure. The original bridge, built in 1814, met its demise by falling into the river, and each subsequent bridge was eventually deemed unsafe and had to be rebuilt, producing the current bridge as it is today. Since the first bridge was built, the uniqueness of its shape resulted in the bridge becoming a local tourist attraction, and Muskingum County, the City of Zanesville and the Zanesville-Muskingum County CVB all maintain webpages featuring the bridge’s history.

As for the tie-in with National Road history, the N.R. was routed across the bridge in the 1830s, as the road was being built across Ohio. The U.S. Route 40 mainline is still routed across the bridge today.

A sign at the southwest entrance to the bridge.

A sign at the southwest entrance to the bridge.

There are a few options for viewing the bridge that I found when I visited. Probably the best spot for seeing the bridge up-close is a parking lot on the grounds of Muskingum River Parkway State Park, which I personally had no idea existed (and is pretty cool in and of itself!). This turnoff for this area is located immediately before crossing the bridge at its eastern end (on the left if driving west, on the right if driving east).

The second option, which gives a nice aerial view of the bridge, is at the top of a hill south and west of the bridge. The viewpoint is part of the city’s Putnam Hill Park. The city has signs directing drivers to this spot from U.S. 40. I’ve included a map of both of these locations below.

Of course, the Y-bridge isn’t the only unique bridge along the National Road. Two other bridges, one in Wheeling, and one in Grantsville, Md., have also piqued my interest, as have the numerous S-Bridges in Ohio and Pennsylvania.


Mile 302 – Madonna of the Trail (Ohio), Springfield, Ohio

Ohio's Madonna of the Trail monument in Springfield.

Ohio’s Madonna of the Trail monument in Springfield.

Ohio’s Madonna of the Trail monument was the first monument to be dedicated in 1928, and it may have been the most moved of all 12 monuments since it was first placed. This monument is owned by the Lagonda Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Springfield (DAR chapters own all of the monuments).

Currently, the monument is along Main Street in downtown Springfield’s relatively new National Road Commons park. Originally, according to the city of Springfield and the DAR, the statue was along present U.S. 40 on the grounds of the Ohio Masonic Home, west of downtown Springfield. However, when the U.S. 68 bypass around Springfield was being built (1957), the monument was moved out of the way and onto an alcove along U.S. 40 slightly farther east. That location seemed to be pretty unfriendly to visitors, as it appears there wasn’t really anywhere to park, and that section of U.S. 40 is four-lane with a speed limit of 50 mph. The monument was last restored in 2003.

Finally, in 2011, Ohio’s Madonna was moved a few miles east to its present location in a new park. Finding the statue was pretty easy. The National Road Commons takes up part of a city block between West Main Street and West Columbia Street two blocks west of Ohio-72. Parking along the street is not an issue.

The monument was placed in Springfield's new National Road Commons park in 2011.

The monument was placed in Springfield’s new National Road Commons park in 2011.

Like each of the 11 monuments that came after this one, Ohio’s Madonna is identical to the others (the inscriptions on the pedestals do change though, to reflect local history). Madonnas along the National Road are located in Beallsville, Pa.; Wheeling, W.Va.; Richmond, Ind.; and Vandalia, Ill. The rest are in Bethesda, Md.; Lexington, Mo.; Council Grove, Kan.; Lamar, Colo.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Springerville, Ariz.; and Upland, Calif.

Below is a map showing the travel path of the Madonna of the Trail in Springfield. Note that the first location at the Ohio Masonic Home is approximate.


Mile 189 – Fox Run ‘S’ Bridge, New Concord, Ohio

Fox Run S Bridge ResizeJust west of New Concord, Ohio, is one of the state’s relatively numerous ‘S’ bridges still standing – the Fox Run ‘S’ Bridge – right up against a four-lane segment of U.S. 40.

Built in 1828, this bridge seems to be unique in that I’ve seen it under three different names: the “Fox Run S Bridge,” the “Fox Creek S Bridge” and “S Bridge II.” Like most of the S bridges in Ohio and Pennsylvania, a small park surrounds the structure, which is open to pedestrians. However, as I found out, the bridge isn’t very friendly to visitors in the winter, as the small designated parking area and the bridge itself aren’t kept free of snow.

A marker at the bridge.

A marker at the bridge.

An information marker  on the east end of the bridge gives a little more information than a standard state historical marker, including mentioning that “the Fox Creek Crooked Creek area [was] a bastion of Abolitionism before and during the Civil War,” that every township in Ohio along the National Road doubled in population in a decade after the road was built and that the National Road was bricked over in 1919 to transport heavy equipment during World War I. Apparently, this bridge was the last part of the road to be bricked over. The bridge was used at least until the 1930s or 1940s. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

If I get a chance, I would rather see this bridge without snow on the ground. There’s supposed to be a path that leads down to the creek to let visitors see the structure closer. Parking (when there’s no snow on the ground) is located on the west end of the bridge.Fox Run S Bridge Resize (2)


Mile 180 – Theo’s Restaurant, Cambridge, Ohio

Theos ResizeIt seems that when a restaurant advertises the fact that it’s been around for decades, said establishment often sticks to decor associated with a set time period in American history. But that doesn’t appear to be the case with Theo’s Restaurant in downtown Cambridge.

Theo’s traces its history to 1931 when it opened as a Coney Island-style hot dog establishment, says the restaurant’s website. Since then, the place has passed down though several generations of owners, all related to varying degrees. After a fire in the 1980s, the restaurant was rebuilt, retaining the “Coney Island Lunch” name (which explains the more modern decor in the restaurant). It wasn’t until the early 1990s that the restaurant was renamed “Theo’s.”

The bar area of one of the dining rooms.

The bar area of one of the dining rooms.

Remnants of the eatery’s original purpose still survive, such as a Coney Island hot dog menu in the far dining room. The restaurant also has retained the locally-famous Coney Island dogs on its menu.

I was able to stop in for lunch on a recent trip to Indiana, and I was thoroughly impressed. The interior is large, and divided into two distinct dining rooms, one of which contains a bar. I had the “moist and sassy” version of the grilled chicken breast sandwich (I tend to be a sucker for menu items that are given a weird name). This version of the sandwich features the chicken marinated in a wine, olive oil, lemon and spice blend, which honestly was one of the best marinades I’ve ever had – not too sweet, not dripping wet and not hot. The grand total for my sandwich, fries and drink was under $7.

The "moist and sassy" version of the chicken sandwich.

The “moist and sassy” version of the chicken sandwich.

Theo’s seemed really down-to-earth, despite the fairly modern decor. The staff was all very friendly and made sure everything was satisfactory. The other thing I really liked was the variety on the menu. This isn’t just an average sandwich and fries place. For example, one of the specials the day I visited was halushki – a Hungarian entree based on soft noodles and cabbage. The Theo’s recipe included ham.

Theo’s is located at 632 Wheeling Ave., right in downtown Cambridge along U.S. 40.  It is open Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Daily specials and the regular menu are updated on the restaurant’s website. Parking is available on both sides of Wheeling Avenue in Cambridge, and is free for two hours – plenty of time to eat. Theo’s can be reached at 740-432-3878.

A page of the menu.

A page of the menu.

The main dining room.

The main dining room.

Theo's Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Mile 168, ‘S’ Bridge, Wills Twp., Ohio

One of the four ‘S’ bridges along the National Road in eastern Ohio is found along an extremely rural and low-trafficked stretch of road east of Old Washington, Ohio. The bridge was built in 1828 to cross a small creek, and like all the S bridges, was bypassed in the 20th Century. In the 1960s, the bridge was declared a National Historic Landmark. Unlike a similar structure in Washington County, Pennsylvania, vehicles are still permitted to cross this bridge.

This bridge is along a stretch of road now named Bridgewater Road. The bridge itself is part of Blend Road, which is an older section of the National Road paralleling Bridgewater Road. There’s no set area to park and walk around, but because of the very low amount of traffic, it’s safe to park near the entrance to the bridge.


Mile 257 – Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus, Ohio

The “Palm House,” the original building of the conservatory.

I happened to be at a wedding in Columbus at the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, which just so happens to be right along Broad Street – the National Road’s route through Ohio’s capital.

The conservatory is a large, public botanical garden with indoor and outdoor sections. The indoor sections are separate greenhouses, each with a different environmental zone in the world, from the Himalayas to the tropical South Pacific. Some zones are interactive and allow you to hear information about the plants by calling a specified number from a cell phone. The South Conservatory houses a large seasonal butterfly exhibition in a tropical Pacific biosphere – although the presence of animals is absent from all other parts of the facility.

The outside part of the conservatory is a combination of horticulture and sculpture. Paths snake through the gardens, with benches set throughout the park.

The Pacific Islands zone. A Chihuly glass sculpture is on the left.

In addition, Franklin Park also has its own in-house glass furnace, staffed by rotating glassblowers. The glassblowers give demonstrations throughout the day, and also offer glassblowing classes to the public. The conservatory also promotes the work of glass artist Dale Chihuly, the works of whom are found throughout the conservatory, intermingled with the flora. Some of Chihuly’s glass art is also for sale at the conservatory’s gift shop, though it’s a bit pricey (think around $5,000 to $10,000).

Franklin Park Conservatory is nothing new to Columbus, and is on public land (Franklin Park). The first structure of the modern conservatory was built in 1895, which is the back part of the building today and called the “Palm House.” Before that date, Franklin Park had served as the location for the Ohio State Fair.

Since the first greenhouse was constructed, several additions have been made onto the building including the glassblowing furnace, a gift shop and a cafe. The conservatory has also hosted numerous weddings and events and possibly the most significant event in its history – AmeriFlora ’92, which attracted over 5 million visitors during its six months. However, despite the importance of the event (some of the outdoor park was constructed for AmeriFlora), the event apparently caused the Franklin Park Conservatory to have financial and management issues. Those issues resulted in the conservatory’s management to be somewhat restructured.

A bonsai in the conservatory’s Bonsai Garden.

Regardless, the conservatory has continued to grow and become stronger financially and has been implementing a master plan for the present and future. The entire facility is kept up to date, informative and clean. For those with a deep interest in horticulture, at least an entire day could be spent touring the gardens and greenhouses. But even for those without a huge plant interest, the conservatory is worth a visit of a few hours.

There is a fee to enter the greenhouses – $11 for adults, $9 for seniors and students and $6 for children 3 to 17. It’s open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Ample parking is available in front of the main entrance. General information can be received by calling 614-645-5926 or visitorservices@fpconservatory.org.

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Summer 2012 Festivals Along the National Road

Planning out summer activities? Check out this sampling of events happening along the National Road this summer! Of course, some are missed, but here’s what I’ve been able to track down:

All States

May 30-June 3: National Road Yard Sale, Maryland to Missouri.

Maryland

May 24-27: DelFest, Cumberland.

June 9-10: 44th Annual Heritage Days Festival, Cumberland.

June 22-24: 35th Annual Grantsville Days, Grantsville.

July 4 (tentative): National Road Monument dedication, Cumberland.

July 4: 36th Annual Soapbox Derby, Frostburg.

Pennsylvania

May 18-20: National Road Festival, Southwest Pennsylvania. (Note: I have had a hard time finding a website giving details about this year’s festival, but it is happening.)

June 14-16: The 9th Annual National Road Chainsaw Carving Festival, Addison.

June 16: 11th Annual Beer & Gear Festival, Ohiopyle.

Aug. 7-11: Mountain Area Fair, Farmington.

Sept. 5-10: West Alexander Fair, West Alexander.

Sept. 15-16: Covered Bridge Festival, Washington and Greene counties.

West Virginia

June 24: Ohio Valley Black Heritage Festival, Wheeling.

July 29: Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival, Wheeling.

Aug. 10-12: Heritage Music Bluesfest, Wheeling.

Aug. 25: Wine and Jazz Festival, Wheeling.

Ohio

Columbus Fairs and Events

June 15-July 22: Springfield Summer Arts Festival, Springfield.

July 7-15: Zanesville Pottery Show and Sale, Zanesville.

July 19-22: Jamboree in the Hills, Belmont County.

Aug. 3-4: Y Bridge Arts Festival, Zanesville.

Aug. 10-11: Salt Fort Arts & Crafts Festival, Cambridge.

Aug. 18-19: Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival, Reynoldsburg.

Sept. 15-16: Preble County Pork Festival, Eaton.

Sept. 22: Hebron Music and Arts Festival, Hebron.

Indiana

Indianapolis

May 24-June 2: Banks of the Wabash Festival, Terre Haute.

June: Jubilee Days, Knightstown.

September: Hoosier Fall Festival, Knightstown.

Sept. 22: Quaker Day Festival, Plainfield.

Oct. 4-7: Riley Festival, Greenfield.

Oct. 5-7: Clay County Popcorn Festival, Brazil.

Illinois

June 1-3: Fun Fest for Air-Cooled VWs, Effingham.

Sept. 1-3: Illinois Popcorn Festival, Casey.

Sept. 28-29: Grand Levee/Harvest Festival, Vandalia.

Fall: Harvest Moon Music Festival, Vandalia.