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Licking County first to complete historic mile marker set!

Licking County is the only county in Ohio - and maybe even the country that has a complete set of original and repalcement National Road mile markers. What makes this fact more impressive is that Licking County's 10% portion of the Ohio National Road (US-40) is the largest, covering 30-miles and now with a complete set of 30 markers.

Jim Young and Sandy Gartner board members of the Ohio National Road Association made it their mission to replace the last three Licking County missing markers 215, 221 and 224. With the help of grants from the Cecil Mauger Charitable Trust, Licking County Commissioners, Licking County Historical Society and with the installation by the Ohio Department of Transportation, they accomplished their goal.  

Howard Long, Executive Director of the Licking County Historical Society: "This achievement not only honors our rich history but also serves as a testament to the community’s dedication to preserving our cultural heritage. Each mile marker stands as a symbol of our past, guiding us through the journey of our nation's development."

The Licking County Historical Society is dedicated to preserving, protecting, and promoting the history and heritage of Licking County. Through various initiatives and projects, the society strives to educate and engage the community in understanding and appreciating the county’s historical significance.

Thomas P. Barrett, ODOT Historic Bridge Program Manager and State Byways Coordinator stated, "We are pleased to announce that three of our mile markers are back in place in Licking County on the nation’s first highway. Thanks to the Ohio National Road Association and ODOT’s District 5 Highway Technicians, the historic stone mile markers are securely in place for future generations of travelers to enjoy. The Licking County markers are part of a larger project that ODOT and ONRA are partnering on to get all the original mile markers back in place along the historic route, dating to 1830."

July 4th,1825 construction started on the 228-mile portion of the Ohio national road at Bridgeport, Ohio crossing 10 counties to the western Ohio border. By 1832 the road had crossed through Licking County on its way to Columbus. Under the Thomas Jefferson administration congress had authorized the construction of the 700-mile National Road from Baltimore, Maryland to East St. Louis, Illinois. That authorization included the requirement that mile markers had to be placed every mile along the way. Due to wear and tear, road realignment over the years many of the original markers have been lost or replaced. 

New location for Milestone 161.

Mile marker 161 has been saved and relocated to Guernsey County Ohio Cambridge City Park. The original milestone location site was destroyed by the advent of I 70. Thoughtful people saved markers 161 and 171 for a long time at the new World Heritage site in Licking County.   OHC historian Dave Adair says, "They are some of the oldest man made things in Guernsey County and in Ohio."  Send chills!  Soon marker 171 will be placed at Guernsey County Fairgrounds.  

Milestone Historic Preservation Award Recipient

Milestone Historic Preservation AwardST. CLAIRSVILLE OH (November 28, 2023) – The Ohio National Road Association recently presented the prestigious Milestone Historic Preservation Award to Mark White of Angelina Stone & Marble of Bridgeport for their work restoring a unique feature on the National Road in Licking County.

ONRA members John S Marshall and Jeff Aland presented the award to WhiteEagles Nest, the project engineer for Angelina’s restoration of the Eagles Nest Monument in Licking County. The plaque, sponsored by ONRA Board Member Mike Peppe, reads: “For professional and exceptional workmanship in restoring the one-of-a-kind Eagles Nest Monument to its original glory on the Historic National Road.”

Known as Eagles Nest, the large granite rock commemorates the experimental paving of a 29-mile section of the National Road from Zanesville to Hebron between 1914 and 1916. Arch W. Smith, of the Ohio State Highway Department called the newly paved highway “the model concrete road of the world.” Chiseled in the granite rock are renderings of a Conestoga wagon, an early automobile, and the distances to Columbus (32 miles) and Cumberland, Maryland (220 miles).

The ONRA award program recognizes individuals and organizations doing their part to help preserve, promote, and enhance the Historic National Road in Ohio. 


Historical Highlights

For more in-depth history concerning sites along the Ohio Historic National Road, continue reading below.

mail pouch barn

Roadside advertising by local, regional and national companies took many forms in the early 20th century, starting with small signs promoting local inns, service stations and other businesses. Later, larger companies such as “Standard Oil” and “Old Reliable Coffee” advertised along the Road. Theold reliable coffee “Mail Pouch Tobacco Company” was perhaps the most creative of the early 20th century advertisers promoting their product on the sides of barns. Today, the ubiquitous “Mail Pouch” barn sign can still be found along the Road and throughout the Midwest. Harley Warrick, from Belmont, Ohio, painted hundred of “Mail Pouch” barn signs for nearly one-half century.

Burma Shave, a popular shaving cream of the day, sold in small glass jars with metal lids, began advertising in the 1930s and 1940s andwhite satin flour eventually became one of the most prolific of the roadside advertisers. Burma Shave had a group of salesmen who would approach local landowners seeking to place a series of five, small red signs with white lettering, located about 100 feet apart, each containing one line of a four line couplet and the obligatory fifth sign advertising Burma Shave.

In 1796 Ebenezer Zane won a commission from Congress to construct a new route to the west. This trace or path followed earlier animal and Native American foot-paths, winding its way from Wheeling, Virginia (now West Virginia) to Limestone, Kentucky (now Maysville). In 1803, the new Ohio legislature provided funds to widen and upgrade the road. Many towns that later prospered as a result of their location along the National Road, owe their origins to Zane’s Trace. Zane’s Trace seems to follow the long access of ridge tops as high ground was more defensible and better drained. Surviving historical accounts of the Trace portray it as little more than a blazed trail, capable of guiding a train of pack animals but a formidable challenge for a wagon. In many places the National Road followed, paralleled or crossed the earlier road. Surviving segments have been identified in Belmont, Guernsey and Muskingum Counties.

“1823. First American Macadam Road” Carl Rakeman, 1926. The approximately 70 miles of the National Road from Bridgeport to Zanesville was the first Federal road in America constructed using the macadam technique, three compacted layers of stone laid in a trough cut slightly below grade, creating a relatively smooth, durable surface capable of shedding water.

The Act of Congress authorizing the National Road required distinguishable marks or monuments to appear at regular intervals along the Road. In accordance with this stipulation, milestones were set at one-mile intervals along the north side of the Road. However, since the act included no specifications, the design and construction material of the milestones varied. In Ohio, the markers were square with curved heads. The five-foot tall markers were set directly into the ground with about three feet exposed. Each stone indicated the distance to Cumberland, Maryland, (where the Road began), at the top center, and the name of and mileage to the nearest city or village for east and westbound travelers. The earliest milestones were fabricated of a reinforced cementitious material in the 1830s. These concrete markers weathered poorly and many were replaced with sandstone markers in the 1850s. Later, concrete was used to replace some of the sandstone markers. Eighty-three existing milestones have been documented with the greatest number in the eastern counties. By the 1920s a uniform highway numbering system, with standardized road signs, identified the National Road and U.S. 40.

Local lore has it that in 1833 a young lady from a wealthy Wheeling family, who had been courting a younger man of lesser means from Fairview, stole away in the night from her parents’ home in a coach with a particularly energetic horse. She headed for the Guernsey County town to steal away with her lover. On the third bend from the top of this hill west of Morristown, a sudden bolt of lightning spooked the horse, forcing the coach to slide and ejecting the young lady from it, breaking her neck. Afterward, the horse ran aimlessly around for three days until it was finally corraled. It is said that even today on very stormy nights, the apparition of a headless young lady astride a spirited steed can be seen riding recklessly up and down the hill.

During the early nineteenth century, inns and taverns were constructed approximately every ten miles along the Road because this was the distance a wagon or stagecoach could expect to travel in a day. These early predecessors to the twentieth century cabin camp, motor court and later, the motel, offered some respite from the rigors of interstate travel. Though some ate their evening meal and retired for the night, others lingered around the fire telling stories, exchanging experiences of the Road, singing, dancing and discussing the important issues of the day. Inns were often located at the crest of hills in outlying areas and were among the most prominent buildings on the Main Street (the National Road) of many Pike towns. Drover’s inns and services were generally simpler frame structures and located on side streets parallel to the National Road or on the outskirts of town where they could accommodate pens for livestock being driven to market. An 1831 state gazetteer listed the tiny town of Etna in Licking County with 3 taverns, 6 stores and 34 dwellings. West Jefferson in Madison County was home to 5 taverns and 6 stores.

toll housesAfter 1838, the federal government no longer appropriated funds for National Road maintenance, though maintenance of the Road had actually been relegated to the states earlier in the decade. To pay for maintenance, Ohio and other states began collecting tolls. Even before construction was completed, the Road had in effect become an Ohio turnpike. Toll taking locations (toll-houses) were constructed about every twenty miles along the Road and tolls were determined by the type of vehicle. According to a list of tolls from 1832, the highest tolls were for cattle and two-horse carriages. Wagons with wheels in excess of six inches in width were exempt from tolls, presumably because larger wheels were actually beneficial in compacting Road gravel. Exemptions were also made for persons traveling to and from church, funerals and places of business. Clergymen and children were also exempt. In contrast to the substantial brick and stone octagonal toll-houses in Maryland and Pennsylvania, Ohio toll-houses were generally frame side-gable structures with a recessed corner porch. Despite the $1.25 milllion in tolls collected between 1831 and 1877, the Ohio National Road languished in a deplorable condition. Tolls remained in effect in some areas until 1910.

As part of their service to motorists, auto clubs, tire and oil manufacturers aBook Covernd later the federal government distributed guide books and maps for some of the nation’s roads. The highly illustrated cover of this guide highlights two of the National Road’s early twentieth century identities – as a federally numbered highway (US 40) and as the eastern-most segment of the National Old Trails Road, a consolidation of several highways to form a trans-continental route from Washington and Baltimore to California, promoted by the private National Old Trails Road Association. The cover also emphasizes the progress believed to have been made since the settlement of the nation.

The Glenn A. Harper Endowment Fund

Ohio National Road Association founding member Glenn Harper. Started this endowment in 2009 to continue his passion for the National Road and its preservation. This endowment will be the source of matching funds or total funding for specifically selected preservation projects along the Ohio Historic National Road. For more information and application please use the button below to email the Ohio National Road Association.

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