The National Road in Illinois
The next small town on the map was Clark Center, but there was plenty of interesting road to see before we got there.
At Baytown Road, maybe 200 yards from where the National Road petered out west of Marshall, we found a brick segment with gutters on either side, something we had not seen before. We wondered what made them necessary here and not elsewhere. Clearly, civil engineering is not our forte.
We noticed a pleasing color combination in the brick here. This photo shows some of it close up.
West of Baytown Road, this section of the National Road faded away as it approached a creek, we assumed. The US 40 bridge at left in the photo shows the creek's location.
About 2/3 mile later, at Arbuckle Road, we found the only segment of the old National Road signed as a county road and still officially in use. The map labeled it "Old US 40," but when we saw the brick, we knew it hadn't been US 40 in a very long time.
We shouldn't have been surprised to find it heavily patched yet needing more maintenance; after all, this road sees use. The brick face was missing in patches, some of them large. We couldn't tell for sure, but it looked like those spots had been filled with cement. Other spots were patched with asphalt. Here's the road eastbound at Arbuckle Road.
Here's the road westbound, where 20 or 30 feet of the road appears to have disintegrated or been dug up and been covered with gravel.
This photo shows asphalt patching and missing brick face close up.
We drove this segment, of course, and it was pretty smooth despite the divots and patches. West of the first crossroads, Bass Lake Rd., the road no longer looked maintained. And then a bunch of big dogs came running out to greet us, looking serious. We said, "Nuts to it," and turned right to get back on US 40. This meant that we didn't get to see that loop of road a few hundred yards ahead that was also labeled Old US 40 on the map, at least at highest magnification.
Shortly beyond that segment, we turned left onto a short road that led to a brick segment. I looked eastbound and saw the road leading up to what looked like a creek, as the photo shows. The bridge appeared to be missing, of course, but on the other side where I expected to see brick, two tire tracks led for maybe thirty feet to where the brick picked up again.
Almost immediately we came to the turnoff to the National Road as it led through Clark Center.
Clark Center is a bunch of houses, a scrapyard, and then a bunch of houses. Oh yeah, and a wooden bridge, captured in this westbound photo.
Somebody involved with the bridge has a sense of humor.
This bridge was built in 2003, as the plaque on its abutment says.
Even though the bridge has a wooden floor, the lack of structural elements in the walls made said that the bridge was supported from below, and the wooden walls and roof were there just for show. Even though it's not a real covered bridge, I'll bet it still draws tourists. While we were there, a family whose minivan had Ohio plates stopped for a look, and didn't get the hint as I stood there with my camera that I was trying to take photos without them in it. Anyway, you just have to wonder what the point is, when there isn't even a gas station in Clark Center where tourists can buy a soda to bolster the local economy.
Here's a shot of the roof trusses.
About 1,000 yards beyond the bridge, the road ended at a cornfield, an old non-reflective directional sign pointing us left or right, its attached reflectors ready for nighttime duty.
The map said that "Old Highway 40" should continue west just a slight jog to the north of us. The road used to be continuous, but it was turned slightly southward beyond the bridge for some reason. We turned right to head back to US 40. We could see where the road used to be to our left, but all that was left was some plowed-up bricks.
Created 22 July 2007.