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2009 Road trip... on the National Old Trails Road


Sorry I haven't written in so long. My priority is always to prepare for my drive, then sleep come in there next I guess.
After doing some genealogy work in Shelby County, Indiana, I drove to the Ohio border where US 40 enters the state of Indiana. This was the path of the NOTR. There is a National Road welcome center just inside Indiana. I bought a reflective NOTR sign similar to the ones placed on the road in Indiana. I noticed the Illinois signs have a covered wagon on the shield, but Indiana's does not. I also bought a National Road and US 40 pin.
I spotted a few of the old milestones from the early 1800s and snapped photos. I did drive a couple old sections not on US 40. The old road was pretty straight however, so much is still US 40. I only had the 1926 maps for the National Road. The 1915 maps didn't start until St. Louis (having old Illinois Hwy 4 to Chicago instead). Indianapolis was nice downtown. I like the city's soldier and sailor monument and traffic circle. It's very European. I went in the Indiana courthouse also.
In western Indiana I found some old sections of NOTR. Some were signed with National Road signs and some were not.
Illinois was a blast. I found a huge number of old road sections. Many were brick, or the concrete bed and curbs into which the bricks were once laid. There were also nice cement road sections. An increasing amount of time was off of US 40 and on smaller roads. Vandalia marked the initial end of the road, and I learned later that beyond Vandalia there was no substantial road construction anyway. It had the second Madonna of the Trail statue that I had visited. St Louis... big city. I took photos on the McArthur bridge for the 1926 road and the Eads bridge for the 1915 road. There is no real marker I could find for the end of the National Road (except for the plaque in Vandalia). I moved on to St Charles. I found the ramp up to the original bridge across the Missouri, now gone. There is a hiking-biking trailhead there now.
St. Charles was really nice. The old main street was lively and beautiful. From St. Charles I followed the Boone's Lick Trail (aka Boonslick trail) to Franklin, Missouri. I did it in one day of driving. I mostly followed the 1915 route, but backtracked some of the 1926 sections too. I really never needed to get on US 40 except once or twice, mostly due to construction. All the route was on smaller roads, some never paved. The Daughters of the American Revolution placed red granite markers along the route in 1913. The 1915 route mostly followed these except for one section. I think 30 were originally placed.
I stayed in an historic B&B between New Franklin and Boonville. It was right on the 1915 road... an obscure section that only the old map revealed. The builder was Capt Joseph Kinney who was a riverboat captain, shoe manufacturer (yes, Kinney Shoes), and riverboat company owner. The house is called Rivercene.
Today is was pouring rain, and lightning was striking so close my truck was jumping up from the ground vibrations. From New Franklin I began to follow the DAR Santa Fe Trail markers. The old 1915 route closely follows the Santa Fe Trail, but the 1926 route strikes a much straighter east-west path near or on the US highway. I visited another Madonna in Lexington, MO. In Missouri today I was driving many very old dirt sections, but once in a while I'd find a small road made from vintage pink Portland cement. THe Old Lexinton Road east of Independence was especially fun with numerous railroad grade crossings that were steep and at funny angles.
I'm in Independence now, and will head into Kansas tomorrow. My truck is now covered in dried thick "gumbo" mud from all my explorations.

In Arrow Rock State Park west of Boonville, the park's museum had a display of National Old Trails Road material including one of the Washington signs and a red-white-blue auto club directional sign from a point about half way between Boonville and Arrow Rock. There was an old photo of people standing around another such sign in Arrow Rock.

I've found that people have heard of the various old trails and know their town is on the Boone's Lick or Santa Fe Trail, but they don't know about the National Old Trails Road. In reality, the current marked historic trails are following the 1912-1926 auto trail routes and the stones laid down by the DAR.

Well, I finished my journey this year down the National Old Trails Road for this year. I officially ended the trip at the Madonna of the Trail monument in Upland, CA. The road technically ended at the same initial end of US 66, that is in historic core of LA at 7th and Broadway. However, I had driven that section numerous times, and it was time to go home. I did drive into LA County and visited my friend in Claremont, another NOTR town.

I'm trying to design a "highlights" photo gallery so folks won't have to wait a year to see images from the trip. The captions will be minimal as that takes me a long time. I'll mostly just put what state each image is in.


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