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Back From The Nr In Md, Pa, Wv


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#1 mobilene

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 10:10 AM

My sons and I are back from our vacation along the NR. We started with 2 days in DC to see the sights, and then we drove up to Baltimore to start our journey across the NR.

I am in love with the Maryland portion of the road. Except for a couple confusing places where they rerouted the road around I-70 or I-68, it is a charming and lovely drive, alternating between historic towns and beautiful countryside. There are even a few breathtaking views.

It's funny how the road in Pennsylvania lacks much of the charm it had in Maryland.

The road doesn't spend much time in West Virginia, but Wheeling is worth seeing as a real diamond in the rough. It's an old town, with roots to the 1700s, and its happiest days seem to be behind it. But a great deal of interesting architecture remains, waiting for restoration funds to come along.

We had planned to tour Ohio as well; it was to be the second day of our trip. But just as we crossed from Wheeling to Bridgeport, OH, I ran a red light and was T-boned. We all walked away from the accident, but my poor little car was totaled. We spent the day in Bridgeport waiting for a rental car, which didn't come for several hours. We climbed on I-70 and headed straight home.

I'll post pics to Flickr and my blog eventually.

Peace,
jim

#2 Keep the Show on the Road!

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 11:43 AM

Jim,

Boy, I would call that a "good news, bad news" report. The good news is you all walked away....and you can look forward to seeing what you missed another day.

I don't suppose we can help dealing with the aftermath but if we can, I know all of us would be glad to do what we could. We are especially happy that no one in the family was hurt.

Dave

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#3 Dave Reese

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 01:08 PM

QUOTE (mobilene @ Apr 11 2009, 11:10 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
My sons and I are back from our vacation along the NR. We started with 2 days in DC to see the sights, and then we drove up to Baltimore to start our journey across the NR.

I am in love with the Maryland portion of the road. Except for a couple confusing places where they rerouted the road around I-70 or I-68, it is a charming and lovely drive, alternating between historic towns and beautiful countryside. There are even a few breathtaking views.

It's funny how the road in Pennsylvania lacks much of the charm it had in Maryland.

The road doesn't spend much time in West Virginia, but Wheeling is worth seeing as a real diamond in the rough. It's an old town, with roots to the 1700s, and its happiest days seem to be behind it. But a great deal of interesting architecture remains, waiting for restoration funds to come along.

We had planned to tour Ohio as well; it was to be the second day of our trip. But just as we crossed from Wheeling to Bridgeport, OH, I ran a red light and was T-boned. We all walked away from the accident, but my poor little car was totaled. We spent the day in Bridgeport waiting for a rental car, which didn't come for several hours. We climbed on I-70 and headed straight home.

I'll post pics to Flickr and my blog eventually.

Peace,
jim


Jim,
I am glad that you both were able to walk away, but what a bummer of a way to end a trip. At least PA was not part of that or we Keystoners would have had two black eyes in your experiences. I hope you continue to not feel two many effects from the crash and that you find a good replacement vehicle. Let us know when the photos are on Flickr...


#4 DennyG

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 04:04 PM

Wow! That is very scary news. Without dwelling on it, it clearly could have been so much worse. I'm glad you all saw DC, I'm glad the three of you shared and enjoyed three of the National Road states, and I'm glad you lost nothing but a car.

#5 sit properly

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 04:18 PM

ALT US 40 in Maryland is one of my favorite roads of all time. Northern Maryland is beautiful. There's so much to see there, especially if you're into Civil War history.

NR through PA has got some great stuff as well, like Braddock's Road (and grave!). I nearly ended up living in Wheeling and it's a much nicer town to drive through than it is to live in (my opinion, of course).

The NR in Ohio is actually really nice. I hope you get to drive it sometime. There's old brick sections and a few really great old towns. Beats I70 any day of the week.

Sorry about the accident though, that's pretty terrifying.

#6 mobilene

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 06:20 PM

QUOTE (Dave Reese @ Apr 11 2009, 02:08 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
At least PA was not part of that or we Keystoners would have had two black eyes in your experiences.


Make no mistake, Dave, the NR in PA is more interesting than the NR in IN. The whole thing got made into a 4-lane divided highway in the 30s, thereby eliminating most of its charm. Only a few minor old alignments remain.

sit_properly, the best parts of the NR in MD were Ellicott City and Gilpin Rd., which is an original alignment that (I don't think) ever made it into the state highway system. Ellicott City is just charming, and the view from Gilpin Rd. is amazing. My son Garrett also dug the "Garrett County" sign on the road; we stopped and got a photo of him next to it.

We were extremely fortunate that we were not injured in the accident. Garrett was sitting next to the door that got creamed, but from the inside he couldn't tell that. He didn't have any idea about it until I told him to get out of the car on his brother's side, since his door would no longer open.

#7 sit properly

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 07:49 PM

QUOTE (mobilene @ Apr 11 2009, 04:20 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
sit_properly, the best parts of the NR in MD were Ellicott City and Gilpin Rd., which is an original alignment that (I don't think) ever made it into the state highway system. Ellicott City is just charming, and the view from Gilpin Rd. is amazing. My son Garrett also dug the "Garrett County" sign on the road; we stopped and got a photo of him next to it.



Oddly, I never made it that far east on NR. I wanted to, but always started in Frederick and headed west, so I never got to see Ellicott City. Gilpin Road, on the other hand is something I missed several times and could kick myself because of it. I believe it's part of the Maryland Route 144 system (the route that exists in several sections, all being old US 40, this one being MR 144AE). I guess it's maintained by the state, but not marked as so.

Would love to see the pics.

#8 DennyG

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 11:44 PM

QUOTE (mobilene @ Apr 11 2009, 07:20 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Ellicott City is just charming...

Did you see the "10 M to B" mile stone in Ellicott City? I didn't or at least I don't remember seeing it. However, when I recently reexamined some of my pictures, I discovered the marker in them. The reason for the reexamination? Learning that both William Least Heat-Moon and Frank X Brusca credit seeing that marker when they were young as the event that got them hooked on old roads.

#9 mobilene

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 06:03 AM

sit_properly, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Gilpin Rd. was state-maintained; it had that look and feel.

Denny, somehow I didn't see a single x M to B marker. We saw several of the larger (and thus easier to spot) markers west of Cumberland, though.

With luck, I'll post the pics to Flickr this afternoon.

#10 Alex Burr - hester_nec

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 08:10 AM

Sorry to hear about the accident - but glad everybody is ok.

As I grow older I find myself having to concentrate much more on my driving than I did when I was younger. The other day, in fact, I ran a red light here in Memphis - fortunately the cross-street was a little used street and, tho there was a car waiting for green, he didn't move as I sailed merrily thru the intersection. So I got lucky.

Here's wishing you "safe" miles of travel. OF course now the kids have a story to tell - about the day Dad was a dummy and ran a red light. biggrin.gif

Hudsonly,
Alex Burr
Memphis, TN

#11 mobilene

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 06:57 PM

Photos are up on my Flickr space!

Washington, DC: http://www.flickr.co...57616588699605/
National Road in MD: http://www.flickr.co...57616680143574/
National Road in PA: http://www.flickr.co...57616681313344/
Wheeling, WV: http://www.flickr.co...57616592989987/

A few favorite shots.

The Wheeling suspension bridge:



Toll house in PA - see Stewart's book! Saw another one, identical, but was running out of time and didn't stop.



Ellicott City, MD -- again, see Stewart!



Wilson's Bridge (MD)



The view from Gilpin Rd., an original NR alignment (MD)



Abandoned alignment west of Hagerstown, MD



Casselman bridge (MD)



Capitol dome (DC)



National Museum of the Native American (DC)



Not sure why Abe is splotchy with color, but I like the shot otherwise (DC)



#12 DennyG

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 10:44 PM

Good stuff. I've only done the DC & MD pictures so far but have some comments before going on to PA & WV which might be tomorrow or might not depending on what time I can find.

You have a picture of "10 M to B", too. Look between the parking and stoplight signs under the overpass.

I can't tell exactly where you were when you took the White House pictures but you had to be sort of close to the Zero Mile Marker. Did you see it?

What is the free standing arch near the Antietam Creek bridge. I don't recall seeing it.

I also don't recall that abandoned section west of Hagerstown. Can you pinpoint it or tell us anything else about it?

(BTW, "don't recall" is a euphemism for "missed it entirely";-)


#13 Mark G Simon

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 11:04 PM

QUOTE (mobilene @ Apr 12 2009, 07:57 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Toll house in PA - see Stewart's book! Saw another one, identical, but was running out of time and didn't stop.



The Addison toll house, shown here, differs from the Searight Toll house (which is the one shown in Stewart's book) in being constructed of stone rather than brick. It's too bad you didn't have time to stop for the Searight house. One of these days I'd like to see the inside of that building, if they ever open it for visitors.

One of the nice things about the National Road in Pennsylvania is that it is independent of any interstate highway. You don't have that big road looking over your shoulder, or the huge interchanges which intrude, for instance, on the "From Little Savage Mountain" site. This also means, of course, that the area is economically depressed because the commerce has followed the interstates, which could be why it seems so drab. But actually, besides the two toll houses, it's got the Braddock Rd. and Braddock's grave, and Ft. Necessity, along with the Mount Washington Tavern right next to it. There are a whole bunch of historic taverns along the Pennsylvania route, including the Century Inn at Scenery Hill which is still in business. I was fascinated by Brownsville, even in the state of decay it's in, because of the older buildings which remain, such as Nemacolin's Castle, and the old alignment of the National Road which runs beside it and goes down a very steep slope. I was walking around Nemacolin's Castle, snapping pictures, when a resident stopped and gave me a detailed history of all the buildings in the neighborhood (if only I'd had a recorder running) and who used to live there and such. He confirmed for me that this narrow street had once been the main street. Then there's the cast-iron Dunlop's Creek bridge, around which the city had been built to the extent that a store had actually been constructed over the creek. When I returned there last summer, that store had been demolished. On the other side of the river I stopped to photograph an interesting Orthodox Church with onion domes, when a freight train suddenly appeared and roared right down the middle of the street. Yes they have railroad tracks in the middle of the street in Brownsville, Pa.

The Maryland portion of the National Road is beautiful, as you say, and Ellicott City is a real jewel. I live just outside of DC and enjoy going up there frequently.



#14 DennyG

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Posted 13 April 2009 - 06:51 AM

QUOTE (Mark G Simon @ Apr 13 2009, 12:04 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
One of these days I'd like to see the inside of that building, if they ever open it for visitors.

Although I've never managed to be there when it's open, it is a museum and, according to this does have regular hours. The one in La Vale, MD, is similar and is also open at times. I've also managed to be there only at "other" times.

I've yet to spend the night or have a meal at the Century Inn (it's on the list) but I have downed a beverage in the bar with an original Whisky Rebellion flag on the wall behind me.


#15 mobilene

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Posted 13 April 2009 - 11:50 AM

Holy cow, of course the toll house I shot isn't the one in Stewart's book. The scene looked deceptively the same, but yes, of course, Stewart shot a brick toll house. Remarkable to me that the two toll houses are so similar in design despite the different building material.

I believe I actually missed Brownsville. I think I missed the turnoff and thus followed 40 around town, and didn't know it until you mentioned the town, Mark. Bummer. I was following Christopher Busta-Peck's excellent maps, and he had the route through Brownstown marked, too. I did see Braddock's Road, but too late, and by that time my rule was "no turnarounds" so I could get to Wheeling before dark.

I was surprised to learn that Ellicott City is one of the wealthiest areas in the nation.

I did note a fair number of what I guessed were probably taverns on the NR in PA. I also enjoyed the S bridge very much, even moreso now that I didn't get to see the ones in OH.

Here's an aerial-map link to the abandoned alignment west of Hagerstown:

http://maps.live.com...&...1&encType=1

#16 mobilene

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 10:20 AM

I've started blogging about our trip down the National Road. Here are the first two entries:

http://jimgrey.wordp...ad-in-maryland/
http://jimgrey.wordp.../ellicott-city/

More to come, keep checking back at jimgrey.wordpress.com.

Bought a new car, too; another 2003 Matrix, but this time the top-line XRS model. Didn't set out to get another Matrix, but I needed something to haul the kids and the dog and luggage all at once while getting good gas mileage. That narrowed the field considerably, to Focus wagon, Chevy HHR, Matrix/Vibe, and Dodge Caliber.



#17 DennyG

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 07:41 PM

I've read & enjoyed your reports of the trip so far and look forward to more. I hope the boys enjoyed (and appreciated) seeing some of the country's history and the trappings of government.

And congrats on the wheels. I first thought you were talking about the AWD model but it sounds like it's the equivalent of what Pontiac (R.I.P.) sold as the GT. Apparently you've just picked up about 50 HP. Watch the speedo. We don't want to hear about you collecting a bunch of tickets. biggrin.gif

#18 mobilene

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 09:52 AM

More blog entries about the trip:

http://jimgrey.wordp.../30/new-market/
http://jimgrey.wordp...-creek-bridges/
http://jimgrey.wordp...-wilson-bridge/
http://jimgrey.wordp...-road-pavement/
http://jimgrey.wordp...olish-mountain/
http://jimgrey.wordp...asselman-river/

Coming up, we move into Pennsylvania.

As for the extra power in my new Matrix -- you only feel it briefly when you start from a dead stop, as too much gas makes the front end all squirrelly, and when you get the tach up past 6,000 RPM. Otherwise, it's about as sedate as my base Matrix was.

#19 sit properly

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 07:25 PM

Thanks for posting this. You're making me a little (more) homesick. It's a good thing.

-Eric

#20 DennyG

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 12:53 PM

I've been following Jim's blog entries on this trip and encourage any who've not yet checked them out to do so. I've driven all of the route he covers at least once and he discovered things I've missed. I like that. Also, in spite of fairly detailed preplanning on his part, some of the highlights were true surprises. That's what makes a ROAD TRIP.




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