My next road trip: revisiting the National Road in Illinois

My next road trip: revisiting the National Road in Illinois

My next road trip: revisiting the National Road in Illinois

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My next road trip: revisiting the National Road in Illinois

Ever since my first trip along the National Road in Illinois, which was in 2007, I’ve heard that there is a stone-arch bridge on a hidden old alignment of the road between Marshall and Clark Center.

Reader Ward knew of it too. He grew up on the road in nearby Casey and had heard of its existence for many years. Last year he learned that the brush around it had been cleared as part of a project to build a National Road bike trail. He found himself in St. Louis late last year on a work trip, and made a point to head back to Clark County to see the bridge. He said that both the bridge and the older alignment of the road were cleared and reachable.

It turns out that this bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (read the nomination here), and has its own Wikipedia page.

Here’s about where the bridge is located relative to Clark Center.

Imagery ©2024 Landsat/Maxar Technologies. Map data ©2024 Google.

Here’s a closer look at the aerial imagery. Notice the trace running through the trees — dollars to doughnuts, that’s where the older alignment is.

Imagery ©2024 Maxar Technologies. Map data ©2024 Google.

Ward tells me that the road leading to and from this bridge is concrete and about 16 feet wide. This concrete would be older than the brick road that replaced it in about 1925. The bridge was constructed between 1828 and 1837, according to the National Register application. The concrete road is unlikely to be older than 1900, and more likely dates to the 1910s, based on what I’ve learned over the years about the use of concrete in roads in general, and Illinois’ use of concrete in roads in particular.

Here’s a photo of the brick road being built, from my collection. To see more photos of the brick road’s construction, go here.

Building the Illinois National Road

Based on photos Ward sent me of the brick road in this area, I am frustrated to know that I walked within spitting distance of this old bridge in 2007 and didn’t know it.

National Road near Clark Center, IL

At the time, a burned out Plymouth Caravelle or Dodge 600 blocked the roadway.

Abandoned Illinois National Road

A similar stone-arch bridge is still in use on the National Road on Marshall’s west edge. A historic marker here says that the bridge was completed between 1834 and 1837.

Stone arch bridge

My first road trip of 2024 will be to visit the stone-arch bridge near Clark Center. I’ll share photos when I’m back from the trip.

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Hi, I’m Steven, a Florida native, who left my career in corporate wealth management six years ago to embark on a summer of soul searching that would change the course of my life forever.