- 156 miles (251 km)
- 3 hours to drive the Byway or 6 hours to enjoy the Byway.
- There are no fees along the Byway proper.
From trail way to highway, the Historic National Road through Indiana has seen tremendous change and growth over the centuries. Spanning the breadth of the state, the Historic National Road follows Highway 40 right through the heart of Indiana and its capital, Indianapolis, the Byway's largest city. Travel the Historic National Road today to experience Indiana, past and present.
Imagine yourself traveling the Historic National Road in the mid-1800s, maybe in a stagecoach or along a Conestoga wagon, as you drive an original section of the Historic National Road in Putnam County. In Cambridge City, stop at the Huddleston Farmhouse Inn Museum, where many early travelers stopped for provisions, shelter and rest for both themselves and their animals. You can tour the farmhouse and see original furnishings and utensils. At the Wayne County Historical Museum see pioneer life exhibits including a general store, an operational 1880s blacksmith shop, and one of the first log homes built in Richmond. The National Road was the impetus for settlements all along the corridor, complete with taverns, inns, and blacksmith shops, to service the traveling populace.
The National Road experienced a rise in use with the invention of the automobile. Stop for a bite to eat in Plainfield at The Diner -- a preserved 1950s diner, representative of diners once prevalent along the Historic Road. After some quality cuisine, see a movie from your car at the drive-in theater, also in Plainfield. Fuel up at the Filling Station and Coffee Cottage in Terre Haute. The stone filling station from the 1930s hearkens to a time when someone with a friendly face pumped your gas and washed your windshield. Don't miss the Texaco Museum in Knightstown. The old filling station has been appropriately restored and adaptively reused to tell the story of filling stations along the National Road.
The experience of traveling the Historic National Road today evokes the experience of past travelers from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s. The agricultural landscape that dominates the stretches of road between settlements reflects early patterns of land husbandry. As visitors travel the route through agricultural and natural landscapes, then through well-defined towns, and back again into the open landscape, a tangible rhythm evolves. This repeating pattern of rural and agrarian to urban settlement is broken only by modern, metropolitan Indianapolis. While there visit the famous Children's Museum, the largest of its kind. Its interactive displays captivate young and old alike: Get your hands dirty at an archaeological dig, pace the platform of a Victorian railway depot, or ride a turn-of-the-century carousel.
The Historic National Road in Indiana is part of America's first interstate highway and one of our first automobile routes west. An authentic remnant of the past, it's an important link to America's heritage and culture. From remnants of the Road itself to the drive-ins and stainless steel diners to the remaining farms and modern museums along the route, visitors literally track Americans' westward migration on Indiana's Historic National Road.
Points of Interest
Points of Interest Along The Way
Antique Alley (IN)
Indiana's famous Antique Alley consists of over 900 antique dealers along a 33-mile stretch of the Old National Road. Stretching from Richmond to Knightstown, the road loops back on SR 38 to rejoin with Richmond. The alley is rich with authentic delights, and there is an outstanding array of antiques and collectibles. You'll see extraordinary 19th Century architecture, tranquil countryside, and genuine early American culture. In Centerville, antique enthusiasts can indulge in the nation's largest antique mall as well as browse through many intriguing antique and specialty shops, several housed in quaint 19th Century rowhouse with archways.
Recently, Indiana has developed a new Antique Trail known as Trail #2. This trail also starts in Richmond but travels north along US 27 to Portland, Indiana and then loops back through Ohio.
Bona Thompson Center (IN)
The Bona Thompson Center is the architectural shell of the Butler University Library.
Brazil is home to the Brick and Coal Museum and the Brazil Commercial District, both of which illustrate the industrial development along the National Road.
Brazil Commercial Historic District (IN)
County courthouses have had a strong influence in Indiana and their architecture demonstrates the National Road's influence as the Main Street of America.
Brick and Coal Museum (IN)
Photographs and documentation of the role various ethnic groups, moving to Indiana via the National Road, played in the brick and coal industries of the area.
Cambridge City (IN)
Founded in 1836 and located in the Historic National Road's Antique Alley, Cambridge City reflects architectural styles of the mid 1800's.
Centerville Historic District (IN)
Centerville was one of the first pike towns on the NationalRoad. Now, the town is characterized by its historic brick housesconnected by brick archways. Visitors will find a beautifulhistoric district with 100 structures listed on the NationalRegister of Historic Places. Historic architecture, commercebuildings, inns, and residences represent the settlement along theNational Road. In addition to the antique buildings, visitors willfind several places for antique shopping. Centerville featuresIndiana's largest antique mall, Webb's. Antique malls and storesare spread all across the National Road and Centerville is a mainstop on Antique Alley trail #1.
This is the largest children's museum in the world. Thisinteractive museum provides an environment for growth, learning butmost of all 'fun.' While here, children and adults alike canparticipate in learning activities. Visitors can get their handsdirty at an archaeological dig, pace the platform of a Victorianrailway depot, ride a turn-of-the-century carousel, barter forgoods in a French fur trading post, sit in the driver's seat of anIndianapolis race car and pet a snake. There is even a separatehands-on gallery designed especially for preschoolers.
Another gallery, The Eli Lilly Center for Arts Exploration(CFAX), encourages self-expression and creativity by providingexperiences in dance, song, literature, and art. Although allchildren's museums consider education as their primary purpose,these institutions vary greatly in subject and scope.
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is unusual among youthmuseums because it maintains and uses a vast collection of morethan 105,000 artifacts. Other youth museums do not use or do nothave an artifact collection and rely instead on newer, hands-onexhibits. Some are social cultural - museums, while others arescience centers, nature centers, activity centers, or junioraffiliates of art, history, or general museums. Some are housed inlarge modern buildings while others can be found in renovatedVictorian homes.
Children's Science and Technology Museum of Terre Haute (IN)
Hands-on exhibits make this museum an educational experience for everyone.
Cumberland gets its name from its location along the CumberlandRoad. It began as a way-station for travelers, and later became aplace to stop along the National Road. Growth has come to thissmall community outside of Indianapolis.