Indiana’s Historic National Road Part 1

This post marks the beginning of my series on Indiana’s Historic National Road.

Construction of Indiana’s section of the National Road from Richmond to West Terre Haute took place between 1827 and 1835. The road survives earlier competition from railroads, interurbans, and the interstate system. More than 185 years later, Indiana’s Historic National Road serves as a National Scenic Byway where you can kick-back and reminisce about travel in earlier times.

In this installment, we’ll discuss National Road attractions in Richmond Indiana. Begin your trip where the National Road (U.S. 40) enters Indiana on Richmond’s east side (I-70 Exit 156). The Old National Road Welcome Center is left (south) on Industrial Parkway just after the railroad overpass. The center has a plethora of information on the East, Central, and West Indiana Regions of the Road as well as other points of interest. Be sure to check out all of the National Road items in the gift shop.

Continue west to the Madonna of the Trail monument at the west entrance of Glenn Miller Park at 22nd and Main. The 18-foot statue dedicated in 1928 by then judge Harry S. Truman was commissioned and erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution as a tribute to the early pioneers who trekked westward. There are also four similar statues along the National Road.

At the NW corner of 17th and Main is the Miller Milkhouse, a drive-through market. (Another Miller’s location is a side trip just west of downtown: North off U.S. 40 at the corner of NW 3rd Street and Main.)

Where U.S. 40 jogs right (north), continue on North A Street. On route is the Wayne County Historical Museum at 1150 North A Street, which has a collection of seven of the 14 automotive makes built in Richmond. One of the most interesting is the original condition 1907 Richmond Model J1 Merry Widow Runabout. Another is the 1939 Crosley Convertible and other Crosley Corporation items.

1939 Crosley Convertible
1939 Crosley Convertible
and other Crosley Corporation items
Copyright ©2012 Dennis E. Horvath

After leaving the museum, go left (south) on 11th Street to Main Street and turn right (west) for the original National Road. This two-lane strip of retail shops has many original buildings. For an automotive side trip at 9th Street, turn right (north) and go two blocks to Elm Place and turn left (west), go one block to 8th Street and turn left (south). Go one block (south) to visit the Model T Ford Museum at 309 North 8th Street.

The Model T Ford Museum showcases the car that “put the world on wheels.” One car currently on display is a 1908 touring car believed to be the earliest Model T in existence. One of the museum’s most popular vehicles is a 1924 Army ambulance. This car is in high demand for local parade duty. The museum’s gift shop contains many unique Model T items. Before leaving the area, check out Historic Depot District for many interesting shops and restaurants. I recommend eating at Fire House BBQ and Blues at 300 North 8th Street.

1924 Model T Ambulance
1924 Model T Ambulance
Copyright ©2012 Dennis E. Horvath

Continue your trip one block south to Main Street and then turn right (west). West of the Wayne County Courthouse turn left (south) onto 3rd Street to pick up U.S. 40 again. Approximately 4.5 miles from the Wayne County Courthouse on the north side of the road is a historic stone mile marker, showing nine miles to the state line, four and one-half miles to Richmond, and one mile to Centerville.

This ends this installment of Indiana’s Historic National Road. Check back for further installments detailing experiences along Indiana’s section of the Nation’s first federally funded highway.

For more information on Indiana rides & drives follow this link.

Check out the book Driving the National Road in Indiana

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