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Celebrating our two-lane highways of yesteryear…And the joys of driving them today!

Dang You, I-70!


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I-70 did a real number on about 18 miles of the National Road west of St. Clairsville, OH. Bits and pieces of the old road remain, some of them not easy to get to.


More than 20 years ago I made what remains the longest road trip of my life. I drove from Terre Haute to Mississauga, Ontario, to visit one friend, and then through Niagara Falls and upstate New York, and then down to Edison, New Jersey, where I visited two other friends. Then I headed home, mostly along I-70. I was bored of the Interstate by the time I crossed into Ohio, and when I saw an exit for US 40 at St. Clairsville, I took it. (This was just past the Blaine bridges, but I didn’t know that then.)


I regretted it almost immediately. My inner roadgeek had not yet awakened, and I was not amused by all the stoplights in St. Clairsville and by the fellow in front of me who was determined to drive 15 miles per hour less than the speed limit. I got out my big Rand McNally atlas (which seems downright quaint now) and looked for a way to get back onto I-70. It showed that US 40 merged onto I-70 ten or so miles ahead, just past Morristown. It even showed that the road widened to four lanes a few miles ahead of the merge.


The slowpoke turned off, and in relief I put my foot into the gas pedal. I reached an intersection where signs said to turn left to reach I-70, but I blew by it eager to drive the four-lane US 40 just ahead.


I had the four-lane highway to myself. A rusty guardrail divided the eastbound and westbound lanes. Then I passed a US 40 reassurance marker covered in black plastic, and then a big green sign also covered in black plastic. Was the road closed? Had I missed a detour? My concern turned to fright as I rounded a curve at 65 miles per hour and found myself staring right into a hillside. With no warning, the road ended right at its base! I slammed on the brakes and came to a stop just ten feet away from the end.


Rand McNally was wrong. US 40 didn’t merge onto I-70 here; rather, I-70 was built over US 40, at least 30 feet up.


Here's the scene today.



Dead end by mobilene, on Flickr


Here's how the road curves in from the east.



Dead end by mobilene, on Flickr


About a mile later, old US 40/NR emerges from the fill.



Mt. Olivet Rd. by mobilene, on Flickr


In this case, they abandoned the westbound lanes.



Mt. Olivet Rd. by mobilene, on Flickr

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Were you aware that the area right behind your car in the second photo is the haunted Lady Bend Hill? The spirit of a woman killed in 1833 is reportedly seen about the place from time to time. Had your brakes failed all those years ago your ghost would have had to share spooking duties. A picture of the hill, with picnickers rather than ghosts, currently tops Our National Road in ARM.

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Wow ... that'd be a bit shocking, I suspect.



Your first pic reminds me of this pic, along Route 66:




I don't know why, but I always seem to get a "wistful" feeling, when I see an abandoned or broken road like this.




Cort | 37.m.IL.pigValve.pacemaker | 5 Monte Carlos + 1 Caprice Classic | * meet_07.30.11_Cold.Treat *

MCs.CC + CHD.models.HO.legos.RadioShows + RoadTrips.us66 = http://www.chevyasylum.com/cort

"I missed a million miles of fun" __ Len __ 'Steal My Sunshine'

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Me too -- makes me try to imagine a time when it was still a bustling highway.


YES ... Exactly!



I also often wonder how "quick" the abandoning took place. In other words, was it a "hear today, gone tomorrow" scenario ... or was it more of a gradual pace? I'm also most often curious as to how many people stop to see it NOW ... and have similar thoughts.....




Cort | 37.m.IL.pigValve.pacemaker | 5 Monte Carlos + 1 Caprice Classic | * RT_06.2011_us66+NW USA

MCs.CC + CHD.models.HO.legos.RadioShows + RoadTrips.us66 = http://www.chevyasylum.com/cort

"Nothing's quite the same now" __ Vertical Horizon __ 'Best I Ever Had'

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