- This Byway travels throughout Maryland from Baltimore to its western border.
- 164.58 miles (264 km)
- 12 hours to enjoy this section of the Historic National Road or 3.5 hours to drive it.
- There is no fee to drive the Byway.
The Historic National Road runs from the Appalachians to Illinois through the state of Maryland. The portion of the road that travels through The Old Line State connects Baltimore and Cumberland and is steeped in history all the way.
This Byway originates at Inner Harbor in Baltimore and travels westward on Routes 40 and 144 through the state of Maryland to its western border.
The first road that was ever funded by the federal government, this Byway was once the door to the west for thousands of early settlers. It forges its way westward from Baltimore, through townships and cities, leading to Maryland's beautiful countryside where history abounds. And, it has become part of a turnpike system that links the country's east and west coasts.
Its tiny townships, bulging with history, are perched along the route with antiquated charm. Old-time buildings house antique shops, specialty stores, and restaurants that lure visitors from the road to their wares. From the pastoral beauty of Piedmont to the varied architectural styles of Frederick and the rugged hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Historic National Road - the mother of all turnpikes -- is a drive through history that is as charming as it is educational.
Points of Interest
Points of Interest Along The Way
Archer House (IL)
The Archer House is the oldest hotel in Illinois. Col. WilliamB. Archer, the founder of Marshall, built the house in 1841 as astagecoach stop. Archer House has some famous connections. AbrahamLincoln was a close friend of Colonel Archer and always stayed atthe Archer House when hearing cases at the Clark County Courthouse.Colonel Archer was the first Republican delegate to the firstRepublican Convention that was held in Philadelphia. At thatconvention, Archer nominated his good friend Abe Lincoln forvice-president. Lincoln turned down the nomination, as he was notyet ready to enter politics. Grover Cleveland also stayed at theArcher House. Today, the House serves as a bed & breakfast andis considered a National Historic Landmark and is on the registerof National Historic Places.
Located at the corner of Illinois route 1 and the National Road (U.S. 40).
Ben Winters' Steam Engine Museum (IL)
When Ben wants to let off steam, he literally lets off steam. Hefires up one of his antique steam engines and relives a time whenthreshing a field of corn was an all-day job, requiring half a tonof coal and a thousand gallons of water. Ben grew up with steamengines as his father, Martin G. Winter, did custom threshing andshredding corn. Ben, as a very young boy, drove the water wagonwith a team of horses as a steam engine required a lot of water forsteam, and of course, had to be fired all the time. Ben beganbuying and restoring steam engines in 1981, amassing a large enoughcollection that he built a museum next to his home.
The Ben Winter Museum is now home to fifteen steam engines, aswell as several gas and oil engines and other antiques ranging fromVictrolas to Linotype machines(from the Altamont News) to acomplete pipe organ from St. Paul Lutheran Church ELCA which is inplaying condition. Ben also purchased two amusement park trains, adiesel and a steam engine, in 1991. He laid 3300 through hisorchard, which has pecan, apricot, persimmon black, English walnut,and English hazelnut trees.
R.R. 1, Box 143, Altamont, (1 mile west of Carriage Inn).
Bond County Courthouse (IL)
Constructed around 1884, Bond County Courthouse is located inGreenville's present day public square. This building wasconstructed by M.T. Lewman of Greencastle, Indiana for the sum of$20,000. Bond County Soldiers and Sailors Monument is located onthe Courthouse grounds.
Located on 3rd street in Greenville, fifty miles east of St. Louis.
Brick Road Section of Old National Road (IL)
Built in 1920 on the road bed of the Old National Road, this stretch serves as a frontage road for US Route 40. Some of the sections of the road can still be traveled and are in use as entrance roads. Others are visible from the byway, but are not accessible. These brick sections of the old National Road represent its original alignment.
Located just west of Marshall.
Cahokia Mounds United Nations World Heritage Site (IL)
The Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site has been named a WorldHeritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, andCutural Organization (UNESCO). There, the remains of the mostsophisticated Indian civilization north of Mexico are preservedwithin a 2,200-acre track. The city of Cahokia was inhabited from700 to 1400 AD and became a regional center capitalizing on traderoutes. Evidence of a horizon calendar known as Woodhenge, oldstockade, and many burial mounds are interpreted through signs anda visitor center.
The story of this unique site is told in a magnificentinterpretive center, which opened in 1989. This building housesmany innovative exhibits, created to tell the story of the Cahokiasite and the people who lived here. An award winning orientationshow introduces the visitor to the site and provides a stimulus tolearn more from the exhibits of artifacts, dioramas, models andgraphics.
The focal point of the exhibit gallery is a full-scalerecreation of one of Cahokia's neighborhoods, complete with houses,a sweatlodge, a granary, and more than a dozen mannequins (castfrom living Native Americans) representing citizens engaged in avariety of daily activities. The mirrored walls of the room reflectthese images numerous times, giving the impression of being in partof the ancient city. Visitors feel transported into the past.
Located near Collinsville just 8 miles east of St. Louis.
The first indication that Collinsville has a "unique" culture is the giant ketchup bottle by the roadside that once served as a water tower. Continuing into the realm of Collinsville, visitors will have access to places like the Cahokia Mounds and Historic Downtown Collinsville. Visitors will also enjoy the Splash City Water Park and Fairmont Park. One will allow you to enjoy water recreation, the other is a day at the horse races.
The story of the giant catsup bottle began in 1891 when a group of Collinsville businessmen raised $5,000 and created the Collinsville Canning and Packing Company. The struggling little plant went through a few different owner/operators until 1933 when the G.S. Suppiger Company purchased the plant. Each new owner retained the Brooks label. The "Brooks Tabasco Flavor Catsup," as it was named, was extremely popular, so much so that the McIlhenny Tabasco Company threatened a lawsuit claiming the term "tabasco" was their copyrighted property. Not wanting to fight a costly legal battle, the Suppigers changed the name to "Brooks Old Original Tangy Catsup."
The Suppigers promoted their product well. For example, in Belleville and St. Louis, big 12-ft high Brooks catsup bottles, adorned with neon, slowly rotated while perched on sign poles. At one time it was America's #1 seller among tangy catsups, and in the greater St. Louis area it out-sold all other brands combined by 2 to 1. In 1947, the W.E. Caldwell Company of Louisville, Kentucky, entered a contract to build the 100,000-gallon water tower. Final drawings were approved in 1948 and the World's Largest Catsup Bottle was completed in October of 1949. Everyone was amused by the idea that the water tower should be built in the distinctive tapered shape of their catsup bottles, little realizing they would create a landmark that would be world-renowned 50 years later.
On the Old National Road off of SR 159
Collinsville Historical Museum (IL)
Founded in 1976, the Collinsville Historical Museum containsmany links to region's past. The first settlers in the area, JohnCook and his young family, arrived in 1810. Artifacts in theCollinsville museum include John Cook's muzzle loader and hiswife's spinning wheel. In 1817, four sons of William Collins, aRevolutionary War veteran emigrated to the area and bought JohnCooks cabin and claim, and named the place "Unionville." The namewas eventually changed to "Collinsville" when it was learnedanother "Unionville" already existed in Illinois. Collinsvillefirst coal mine opened in 1859, the year Collinsville was formallyincorporated into a village.
The museum offers a fine display of miner's tools andmemorabilia. The Civil War produced many heros, including Lt.Nineveh S. McKeen who won the Congressional Medal of Honor and isburied in nearby Glenwood Cemetery. Lt. McKeen was wounded in thebattle of Stones River, captured at the battle of Chickamauga andwas on of 15 Union officers who planned and executed the famous"Little Tunnel" of Andersonville prison.
Located at the junction of Main Street and Clay Street in Collinsville.
Dr. Charles M. Wright House (IL)
The Wright House was designed and planned in 1889 by C.M Wright.This Victorian mansion was built with materials from thesurrounding states, such as the white stones for the foundation(southern Indiana), 400,000 bricks (St. Louis Missouri), and theoriginal roof was Pennsylvania slate. C.H. Spilman of Toedo,Illinois agreed to build the house for $17,965. The totalcost—not including furniture—was $35,000. The housealso had many “modern” conveniences, such as anartificial gas lighting system, which used evaporated gas stored inan underground tank north of the house that had been piped into thehouse to the many glass-globed lamps. The water system involvedwater which was supplied from a double cistern west of the housethat was filled with rain water from the roof and stored in theattic. This water was then moved by gravity to the kitchen,bathroom, and second-floor lavatories. The water was heated by oneline passing through a hot water tank heated by the kitchen stove.The heating system involved a large boiler in the basement, firedby soft coal.
The Wright House has 18 furnished rooms, including sevenbedrooms, with many of the original furnishings are still in therooms. There are many pictures, photos, paintings, and drawings ofthis wonderful old house on display in the house. The bevel-edgedmirrors over the mantels exemplify the quality and durability withwhich the house was built because after one hundred and seven yearsthey are still in good shape. On the first floor is located theparlor, the library, the living room, dining room, kitchen and onebedroom. On the second floor are five bedrooms and a room that hasbeen turned into a museum room and now holds many old items fromthe bank, medical businesses of the Wrights, and items found in theattic and basement.
Located at Main and Jackson streets in Altamont.
Eads Bridge & Gateway to the West Memorial (IL)
The Eads Bridge over the Mississippi River was the first archedsteel truss bridge in the world. When it was first proposed, it wasscoffed at as impossible to build. It was completed in 1874, it isstill in use today. It was built by James Buchanan Eads(1820-1887), a self-taught engineer, who distinguished himself asan innovator and entrepreneur. As a young man, Eads designed adiving bell, which allowed him to walk on the Mississippi riverbottom to salvage wrecked vessels by guiding the "snag" boats totheir submerged targets. When the Civil War erupted, Eads wascalled upon by the U.S. government for advice on securing andmaintaining control of the Mississippi. Eads designed and built thefirst seven armor-clad gun boats for the Union Navy, accomplishingthe enormous task in just 100 days. Eads' accomplishments did notend with the Civil War.
The Mississippi River at St. Louis was, and is, a mighty force.A span to cross the river, with the specified 50' clearance forriverboat smoke stacks and a center span of 500', was thought to beimpossible. The bridge was completed in seven years and stands as amonument to a man who thought well beyond his time.
St. Louis Eads Bridge Road in East St. Louis.
East St. Louis (IL)
Just across the river from the bustling city of St. Louis,Missouri is East St. Louis of Illinois. This city is a stoppingpoint on two of Illinois' National Scenic Byways. The Great RiverRoad and the National Road pass through the area allowing visitorsa glimpse of the famous Gateway to the West across the MightyMississippi.
Collinsville Road will take visitors into East St. Louis from the National Road.