Illinois Scenic Drives: Historic National Road

Highlights of Historic National Road

The St. Louis Arch is visible from Historic National Road.
The St. Louis Arch is visible from Historic National Road.

The landscape of the Historic National Road in Illinois offers many scenic views to the byway traveler. The route is dotted with towns and rural communities, interspersed with rural lands and farms. The large metropolitan area of the western edge of the byway, in Collinsville and East St. Louis, provides a different kind of scene. From historic buildings and bridges to gently rolling hills, this byway exemplifies a scenic drive.

In the east, the rolling hills and interspersed forests provide a different view than the flat, unbroken views presented on the western edge of the byway. In between, cultivated fields, distant barns, farmhouses, and grazing livestock all speak of the nature of the land.

The Illinois section of the Historic National Road begins in Martinsville and goes to Collinsville. Here are some the sights you can see along the way.

Lincoln School Museum: This quality museum is located near Martinsville. The building itself was built in 1888, and the school is open to groups for an interpretation of early pioneer days.

Franciscan Monastery Museum: Dating to 1858, this historic monastery has a wonderful museum that displays artifacts from early settlers as well as the Franciscan Fathers. Visitors can view pioneer items such as toys and kitchen utensils, and religious items such as Bibles and vestments. There are also antique legal documents on display, such as marriage licenses. The monastery is located about five miles east of Effingham in Teutopolis.

My Garage Corvette Museum: This museum, located in Effingham, about 30 miles west of Martinsville, is a must for automobile lovers. On display are vintage Corvettes from the 1950s and 1960s.

Collinsville Historical Museum: Located about 90 miles west of Effingham in Collinsville, this museum offers visitors a unique glance into the region's residents all the way back to John Cook, the first settler in 1810. Many interesting artifacts are on display, including a variety of Civil War objects and miners' tools.

Along the Historic National Road visitors will have a chance to view bridges that are engineering marvels. But be sure to also look for Monk's Mound, a Native American engineering marvel; it took 300 years to build and is now a United Nations World Heritage Site. Illinois' portion of the Historic National Road holds many sights of historic and cultural value, as you'll discover along the way.

Find more useful information related to Illinois' Historic National Road:

  • Illinois Scenic Drives: Historic National Road is just one of the scenic byways in Illinois. Check out the others.
  • East St. Louis, Vandalia, Effingham, Marshall: Find out what there is to do in these cities along Historic National Road.
  • Scenic Drives: Are you interested in scenic drives beyond Illinois? Here are more than 100 scenic drives throughout the United States.
  • How to Drive Economically: Fuel economy is a major concern when you're on a driving trip. Learn how to get better gas mileage.