Indiana and Illinois National Road Revisited

The Jim Grey Page • Roads

Reelsville, IN

I stopped to see the Big Walnut Creek alignment on my way to Terre Haute to pick up Michael. When I made my 2006 trip along the National Road in western Indiana, I made an assumption about the road's path here that a 1916 Automobile Blue Book I picked up later shed more light on the routing. This map shows the area's roads.

It seemed clear that US 40 and perhaps the National Road had followed, from east to west, CR 620 W and CR 750 S. This page explains in more detail, but basically I guessed that the two segments marked CR 750 S were connected until current US 40 was built. The map also shows a short segment, right above the Raab Crossroads label, connecting the west end of CR 750 S to CR 725 S. But when I turned the labels off, there was no evidence of a road there. On our trip, we found no evidence of road west of where CR 750 S ends – but CR 725 S is cement for a short distance before the cement curves and disappears. Beyond, the road is gravel.

My 1916 Automobile Blue Book told motorists to follow what is now CR 620 W, but said it ended at the first crossroads, CR 625 W. It directed drivers north across the river, and then west along CR 725 S:

…thru Coatesville 40.0, Manhattan 43.5. End of road; turn right down winding grade thru covered bridge to first left hand road in Reelsville; turn left, running along tracks; cross same 46.6…

So some time after 1916 the road was rerouted to cross the Big Walnut Creek west of Reelsville. The map below shows the 1916 and later routes. The 1916 route is green; the later route is red; the overlap is yellow.

When I reached CR 625 W on US 40, I turned in and immediately came to the National Road. This photo shows the National Road as it approaches CR 625 W.

An old gas station building sat on the northeast corner.

Here's CR 625 W and the National Road running northbound from this intersection.

The hill wasn’t very steep, but it clearly used to be steeper, because as you get close to the bridge, you see this old lady down below.

The satellite map caught the new bridge just beginning construction. The old bridge was still in service.

Here's the bridge from its north side, the sun intruding on the photo. The new bridge, built in 2004, is noticeably higher, requiring that the road be built up. I wonder how long this road was closed during construction.

I drove north a bit and turned to look at the new bridge. This view gave me an even better idea of how much the road was built up when the new bridge was built. Notice how low the No Trespassing sign is. The northbound road to the old bridge must have been awfully steep from the top of the hill.

The ABB said to turn left after the bridge onto what is now CR 725 S, a gravel road. Seeing it made me very curious about when the National Road was first paved in Indiana and when it was realigned to cross Big Walnut Creek farther west.

This photo shows the road's character. Is this what the National Road was like in 1916?

Soon I came upon a cement roadway that once curved in from the south. This was US 40 at one time, rejoining the National Road path. It's not clear why the 200 or so yards of road between here and CR 750 S to the east were torn out.

Across CR 800 W, the National Road becomes somebody's driveway. There's evidence that the old road ran maybe 50 feet north of the current road for another 500 yards.


Start • Reelsville, IN • State Line • Livingston, IL • Marshall, IL • Effingham, IL


Created 12 February 2008.
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