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The National Road - Ohio - Belmont County

US 40 - Bridgeport, OH (Doug Kerr)
Us 40 through Eastern Ohio traverses a changing landscape.  It enters the state at Bridgeport, a town with a strong industrial background.  It continues west into smaller cities like St. Clairsville and then onto the rural towns of Fairview and Old Washington.  This segment of the old National Road and US 40 has a little bit of everything from old alignments containing original brick pavement, stone 'S' Bridges, and a dead end at the foot of a modern Interstate 70.  US 40 is truly a backroad as it parallels and is often times forgotten by the hustling traffic along the Interstate.

The historic Belmont County Courthouse (Mike Austing)
St. Clairsville is one of the many Ohio towns that the old highway serves as 'Main Street'.  St. Clairsville is the Belmont County seat and the historic Belmont County Courthouse is located on US 40.  The visible landmark was built in the mid-1880s and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.  St. Clairsville is also home to the National Road Bikeway.  The bikeway is a 2.5 mile rail-trail that runs north-south and tunnels underneath Route 40.  The bike trail opened in 1998.

Belmont County Road 40W near Lloydsville. (Mike Austing)
Throughout Belmont County, there are numerous old alignments of the National Road and Route 40.  One of these old paths bears off of the highway near Ohio University's Belmont Campus.  Known as Belmont County Route 40W, this narrow and forgotten road leads to Lloydsville, a town younger than the road that runs by it.  Lloydsville was incorporated in 1962.  However, Lloydsville has at least been known of as far back as 1920. (1)  To reach this old alignment of US 40, leave I-70 at Exit 213  and head west on route 40.  About 1/4 mile past the OU-Belmont Campus, turn left towards Lloydsville, and you'll be on County Route 40W, former US 40! 

1964 Rand McNally showing an incomplete I-70.  Where the proposed I-70 meets US 40 west of Morristown is where US 40 dies into I-70.
Just west of Morristown, the original US 40 is literally stopped by a hillside and a pond.  When Interstate 70 was completed in the area in the 1960s, US 40 was moved onto the freeway from this location to Old Washington.   What is left of the four-lane US 40 is immediately disrupted by the hillside that carries the Interstate.  This Google Satellite image shows I-70, US 40, the retaining pond that sometimes floods the old alignment, and the old road ending into the embankment.  Below, a photo of the old and partially abandoned 4-lane US 40 ending at the hillside that carries I-70. 

Old US 40 west of Morristown. (Mike Austing)
The Interstate was built directly on top of I-40 to just east of the current-day OH 800/Hendrysburg interchange.  It is that point where the original US 40 can be found on the south shoulder of I-70 arcing its way to OH 800 where Route 800 meets I-70.  This Google Satellite image shows the old four lane US 40 just east of Hendrysburg.  The eastbound lanes still remain usable; however, the old westbound highway has been reduced to gravel or weeds or is used as a parking area for local residents and trailer loads.

Old US 40 Eastbound (Belmont County 102) at I-70. (Mike Austing)

The former westbound lanes of US 40 are now either overgrown or used for parking. (Mike Austing)

Old US 40 West approaching I-70 and Hendrysburg. (Mike Austing)
Old US 40 follows OH 800 on a two lane bypass of Hendrysburg.  The original National Road runs through the town.  Hendrysburg was founded in the 1820's by Charles Hendry, whose parents settled near the town in 1797.  William Boyd, better known as Hopalong Cassidy, was born in Hendrysburg in 1895.

A quiet National Road through Fairview. (Mike Austing)

If you were to exit of the Interstate at Exit 198, you are able to access the Village of Fairview.  Because of the heritage of the National Road, Fairview survives in spite of being bypassed by nearby Interstate 70.  The main thoroughfare through Fairview is the original National Pike and what once was Route 40.
 
Belmont County Road 967 - a true country gravel back road.  (Mike Austing)
It is easy to trace the National Road out of Fairview, east or west.  Continuing east, follow County Route 40-A.  County Route 967 takes you out of town to the west.  County Road 967 varies from gravel to paved.

Site Navigation:
Sources & Links:
  •  (1) Gibson, Denny. "The National Road in Ohio." Personal E-Mail. (Sept. 12, 2004)
  • Mike Austing
  • Doug Kerr

Comments

Jim Grey said…
First time I drove any of this was about 1990, before my inner roadgeek awakened. The four-lane section that runs into I-70 had a single steel guardrail down the middle at the time. I didn't realize it wasn't still in use as US 40. I remember reaching the intersection where the road opens up and being unclear from signage about which way US 40 went. I kept going forward and eventually found the I-70 hill. The guardrail ran right into the hill. At the time there was no water over the road, so I drove up onto the hill and came back down onto the eastbound lanes.

My Rand McNally atlas at the time showed that there was an exit onto I-70 here. Insert sad-trombone sfx.
Jim Grey said…
P.S.: Shaky video I shot of the Morristown alignments in 2011:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfbPqjrZ-8U
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LaoW-AuyS94

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