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Ohio Scenic Drives: Ohio Historic National Road

View Enlarged Image This map highlights sights along Ohio Historic National Road.
View Enlarged Image This map highlights sights along Ohio Historic National Road.

The Ohio Historic National Road paved the way west through the newly formed states of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. This drive a direct connection to the mercantile and political centers of the East Coast, helping to secure the influence and viability of these new settlements.

As much as the road's boom times during the early and mid-19th century signified its importance to national expansion, its decline during the late 19th and early 20th centuries reveals the rise of the railroad as the primary means of transport and trade across the nation. Likewise, the renaissance of the National Road in the mid-20th century reflects the growing popularity of the automobile.

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Today, the byway is a scenic journey across Ohio. The steep, wooded hills and valleys of the eastern edge of the byway give way to the gently rolling farmland of the western part of the byway. Picturesque farms, hiking trails, craft industries, and historic sites and museums await you along this portion of the Historic National Road.

Archaeological Qualities of Ohio Historic National Road

Prehistoric civilizations once dominated the land surrounding what is now known as the Historic National Road in Ohio. Remnants of these early people can be found just off of the byway. One important aspect for these early cultures was making tools and weapons. They found flint for these tools at the site of Flint Ridge State Memorial. The Hopewell Culture frequented Flint Ridge because of the quality and beauty of the flint found there. This flint was a very important resource to that culture. Flint from Ohio has been found from the Atlantic seaboard to Louisiana. Flint was so important, in fact, that it has become the state gem of Ohio.

Located near Newark, the Moundbuilders State Memorial and Ohio Indian Art Museum tell about the Hopewell Indian civilization, which is most remembered for the large earthworks they constructed. Exhibits show the artistic achievements of cultures that lived in the area from around 10,000 B.C. to A.D. 1600. The Octagon Earthworks and Wright Earth works are also located near Newark.

Qualities of Ohio Historic National Road

The Historic National Road in Ohio hosts a rich tradition of culture. Museums, festivals, and other cultural facilities offer a chance to both explore more of the National Road's history and seek diversions from it. Outstanding performing arts venues are well represented along the byway. In addition to these cultural features, the eastern section of the byway is known for its selection of traditional and modern crafts.

Qualities of Ohio Historic National Road

The history of the Historic National Road in Ohio highlights the importance of this road in terms of development and settlement that it brought to the Ohio area. The history of the construction of the National Road is significant because it serves as an example of larger events that were transpiring in America simultaneously. Early pioneer settlement gave way to railroads, and finally the automobile became the most frequent traveler along the National Road.

Qualities of Ohio Historic National Road

While traveling the Historic National Road in Ohio, you are treated to a diverse byway that traverses steep wooded hills and valleys in the east and gently rolling farmland in the west. This diversity of natural features offers refreshing and contrasting views along the byway. The changing landscape determined how the National Road was constructed, as well as the types of livelihoods settlers engaged in throughout the history of the road.

Qualities of Ohio Historic National Road

A tremendous network of large state parks, regional metropolitan parks, local parks, and privately run facilities provide a bountiful array of outdoor recreational facilities. For the most part, the state parks are located on the eastern half of the byway, and more than 50,000 acres of state parks, forests, and wildlife areas are easily accessible from the byway. Along portions of the byway, you can hike, camp, fish, hunt, and picnic while relishing the various species of local flora and fauna.

Find more useful information related to Ohio's Historic National Road:

  • Ohio Scenic Drives: Ohio Historic National Road is just one of the scenic byways in Ohio. Check out the others.
  • Vandalia, Springfield, Columbus, Cambridge: Find out what there is to do in these cities along Ohio National Historic Road.
  • Scenic Drives: Are you interested in scenic drives beyond Ohio? 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.

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