Tag Archives: us 40

Mile 398 – Frosty Boy, Knightstown, Ind.

The exterior of Frosty Boy.

The exterior of Frosty Boy.

On a recent trip to St. Louis, I was looking for a quick lunch off Interstate 70. I decided to check out Knightstown, close to halfway between Richmond and Indianapolis.

I came across Frosty Boy, mostly because of the look of the building – it stands out on Knightstown’s historic Main Street. I don’t know much about this history of this place, but judging by the architecture, the building has probably existed for a few decades.

FrostyBoy (2)Frosty Boy doubles as a Pizza King location, which (I later learned) is a mid-sized pizza chain in East Central Indiana that’s been around since the late 1950s. However, I also found after a quick-and-dirty Internet search that this location may not be an “official” Pizza King outlet. It’s not listed as a location on Pizza King’s website, and apparently Indiana’s pizza history involves a few Pizza King copycats, so I’m not sure what the case is here.

But back to the Frosty Boy end of it.

The menu at Frosty Boy.

The menu – with lots of options.

The menu is chock full of options, mostly diner-type food and, of course, ice cream. I went with a breaded pork tenderloin, because Indiana.

The food came out quickly, and it wasn’t bad. Being mid-afternoon on a Friday, there weren’t too many other people coming and going, and most got some form of ice cream.

Still, it definitely beat larger fast food outlets for a quick bite to eat. And, they have breaded pork tenderloins, which are a very popular sandwich in the Hoosier State (there’s even a blog dedicated to them!).

A breaded tenderloin at Frosty Boy.

A breaded tenderloin at Frosty Boy.

If you’ve never had a tenderloin before and are in Indiana, try one. There are a ton of great restaurants across the state that serve this sandwich, and one of the more well-known places to grab one is at Nick’s Kitchen in Huntington – the same city where I went to college. Since I mentioned Rick Garrett’s blog earlier, here’s his review for Nick’s Kitchen.

Parking is available on-site. Frosty Boy also only takes cash – no credit/debit cards.

The interior of Frosty Boy.

The interior of Frosty Boy.

Frosty Boy K on Urbanspoon


Mile 1 – Coney Island/Curtis’ Famous Wieners, Cumberland, Md.

Curtis'/Coney Island on North Liberty Street in Cumberland has been open since 1918.

Curtis’/Coney Island on North Liberty Street in Cumberland has been open since 1918.

If you are able to dine at only one place in Cumberland, Curtis’/Coney Island Famous Wieners has to be on your short list.

It’s pretty much the best hot dog joint ever (says a Western Marylander).

But seriously, Curtis’/Coney Island is steeped in Cumberland history, and has been around long enough to span at least four generations. If you meet a Cumberland native (like me), chances are their parents and grandparents have had hot dogs in the exact same booths – but decades earlier.

Just a note – Curtis’ and Coney Island are the same place now, but were separate establishments until about 13 years ago – more on that farther down. I’ve rarely heard anyone ever refer to the place as “Curtis’,” instead referring to it by the “Coney Island” name, so that’s the name I’ll be using.

Memorabilia on the walls of Curtis'.

Memorabilia on the walls of Curtis’.

Coney Island has been around since 1918, and as far as I know, the recipe for “Coney Island sauce” hasn’t changed since it was created. The restaurant has always been a family affair, too. Currently, Gino Giatras is the proprietor, taking the place over from his father, Louis “Louie” Giatras (Louie died in 2007). Locals tend to refer to members of the Giatras family by their first names, regardless of whether or not they actually know the family personally.

Coney Island can be traced to business ventures by Greek immigrants around the beginning of the 20th Century. Louie’s obituary in the Baltimore Sun states that the first hot dog was sold around 1905, and the product took off. Because of the food’s success, the family started two hot dog joints – Coney Island and Curtis’.  Curtis’s was located at 35 N. Liberty St., and Coney Island was farther up Liberty Street toward Baltimore Avenue. Both restaurants were essentially the same menu-wise, and both had kitchens in the front of the restaurant, but each had different decor.

The old red booths moved from the original Coney Island location when it was merged with Curtis'.

The old red booths moved from the original Coney Island location when it was merged with Curtis’.

In 2000, the restaurants combined, with Coney Island moving into an expanded Curtis’. Today, the side where Curtis’ looks pretty much the same as it always has. On the other side of the restaurant, the iconic red booths that were part of Coney Island were moved into the new dining area when the hot dog joints merged.

The restaurant’s walls are covered in memorabilia, most notably historic newspaper articles, Pittsburgh Steelers decorations and photos. Gino is usually working, yelling orders in the small kitchen at the front of the restaurant.

So about the actual food…

My usual go-to: hot dogs with sauce, fries and a vanilla Coke.

My usual go-to: hot dogs with sauce, fries and a vanilla Coke.

Coney Island/Curtis’ is particularly famous for its sauce that goes on hot dogs. The base is hamburger, which is combined with several seasonings to produce a sauce that is drier than toppings at other hot dog establishments, but still fairly moist. Of course, there are all the regular toppings as well.

Curtis’ also makes vanilla Coke/Pepsi the old fashioned way – by actually adding syrup to the soda. I believe they make cherry Coke the same way, too. They also make a few other old-fashioned drinks as well (none with alcohol).

A view toward the front of Curtis'.

A view toward the front of Curtis’.

You can order at the window for take out, or seat yourself at the booths or at the bar to be waited on. The wait staff generally tends to assume that you’re a local and know what you want, so be sure to take a look at one of the menus on the wall as you’re finding a seat (this has thrown off some of my friends from out-of-state). Chances are you’ll be ordering a hot dog anyway, but still.

Hot dogs are ordered by amount and topping. So, for my usual three hot dogs with sauce (I tend to indulge when I’m home), I order “three with sauce.” I’ll usually have an order of fries brought to share with the table as well (they’re the crinkle-cut kind).

The bar at Curtis'.

The bar at Curtis’.

Your food will typically come out within just a few minutes – probably a lot quicker than most fast-food places. If you’re dining in, your bill will be given to you with your food, but don’t feel rushed. Pay at the front when you’re ready to go.

Coney Island is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. It is closed on Sunday. Parking is available on North Liberty Street and throughout downtown Cumberland. After lunch or dinner (or breakfast?) at Coney Island, visit the relatively large variety of shops in downtown.

If you’re heading farther west along the National Road, check out other great hot dogs at Fiddle’s Confectionery in Brownsville, Pa., or Shorty’s Lunch in Washington, Pa.!

Curtis Famous Weiners on Urbanspoon


Mile 362 – Madonna of the Trail (Ind.) – Richmond, Ind.

The Madonna of the Trail in Indiana.

The Madonna of the Trail in Indiana.

The Madonna of the Trail monument in Indiana is perched on a small hill overlooking the National Road in Richmond, in the southwestern corner of Glen Miller Park.

This monument is maintained by the Indiana Daughters of the American Revolution, which maintains a brief webpage about the monument here. Indiana’s Madonna has never been moved, and underwent cleaning and rededication in 1988, 1998 and 2005, with the latest restoration being the most extensive.

To get to the monument from the westbound lanes of U.S. 40, make a right turn immediately before U.S. 40’s intersection with 22nd Street. Eastbound traffic should turn onto 22nd Street before making a right turn into the park. The monument will be visible on the right. Pullouts for parking are available along the driveway into the park. Informational signs are adjacent to the monument.

The Madonna in Indiana was the ninth monument to be erected. On the National Road, other monuments are in Beallsville, Pa.; Wheeling, W.Va.; Springfield, Ohio; and Vandalia, Ill.

Non-National Road monuments are in Bethesda, Md.; Lexington, Mo.; Council Grove, Kan.; Lamar, Colo.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Springerville, Ariz.; and Upland, Calif.

Indiana Madonna (2) - Resize


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 259 – Ohio Statehouse, Columbus, Ohio

The facade of the statehouse.

The facade of the statehouse.

When the National Road was built, it carried transportation importance not only as a gateway west, but also as a link between western state governments and the East. The road itself passes through three former state capitals – Wheeling, W.Va. (several times in the late 1800s), Zanesville, Ohio (1810-1812), Vandalia, Ill. (1819-1839) – and two current state capitals – Columbus and Indianapolis.

The dome in the rotunda of the statehouse.

The dome in the rotunda of the statehouse.

In all of these locations, the National Road passes directly by, or very close to, the state capitol buildings. In Columbus, the Ohio Statehouse fronts the road (Broad Street) on its northern side.

The current statehouse was completed in 1861, after fire destroyed a previous building. The building is consistent with Greek Revival architecture, and the self-guiding tour brochure states that the idea to construct the capitol in this style came from a desire to create a structure that represented democracy, which was, of course, developed in ancient Greece.

Inside the statehouse rotunda.

Inside the statehouse rotunda.

The statehouse was renovated during the early 1990s, which restored much of the detailed interior architecture seen in the building today. In addition, the statehouse was fused with the Senate Building via an enclosed atrium, and the lowest level of the structure was renovated to serve as both a lower connection between the buildings and as a better facility for visitors.

The entrance to the Statehouse Museum.

The entrance to the Statehouse Museum.

Visiting the statehouse today is quite easy. A public parking garage exists under the building, accessible from Broad, Third or State streets. The garage leads directly into the lower level of the capitol, where a small, but modern, interactive museum features exhibits documenting politics and government in Ohio. Guided tours are free and given throughout the day, or guidebooks are available for a self-guided tour, which is what I did.

The mural for which the "Map Room" is named.

The mural for which the “Map Room” is named.

Because the statehouse and Senate Building are essentially one building, it’s a little easy to get disoriented at first. However, the statehouse is secured with a division of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, and those officers can be of assistance.

The self-guided tour leads through each level of the building, noting the function of nearly every room on each floor. The guidebook provides detailed information on each location, and also contains photos and descriptions of what parts of the capitol looked like before the 1990s renovation/restoration.

Ohio Statehouse Resize (5)One aspect of the Ohio Statehouse that makes visiting pleasant is that the whole building is very open and visitor-friendly (at least when the Ohio General Assembly is not in session). Visitors are able to walk freely in and out of the building’s entrances, and even the House and Senate chambers are open to the public (again, as long as the legislature is not in session). This atmosphere allowed me to enjoy and take in the building at my own pace, without feeling rushed.

The highlights, at least in my mind, are The Rotunda, the House and Senate chambers, the Statehouse Museum and the grounds around the building. Of course, there are scores of other features the capitol has to offer.

The Ohio Statehouse is open to the public Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Ohio Statehouse Resize (6)


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)