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National Road Piketowns

S Bridge 1919The name pike town is a reference to the town’s location on “the pike,” a term that is short for turnpike. The pike town is a defining characteristic of the National Road corridor from this period, representing early town development along the road. Pike towns recall the heyday of the road for several reasons— because of their historic buildings and because of their intact town plan or layout.

The National Road helped foster the Main Street model of town development, a linear plan with a dominant Main Street (the National Road) and one or more parallel “back streets.” Significantly, Main Street was the location for residences, businesses, and inns, while the back street was a place for the heavier traffic of wagoner's and drovers. The back street was also the preferred location for churches, schools and cemeteries, leaving the valuable National Road frontage for businesses and residents.

Pike towns depended on road traffic for their economy. Some towns were already in existence during the 2 decades before the road was constructed, including Morristown (1802) in Belmont County and Old Washington (1805) in Guernsey County, which were laid out on the old Zane’s Trace in the eastern part of the state. When the road came through, these fledgling settlements grew quickly.

Farther west, towns were laid out specifically to take advantage of the route and date their founding to the 1830s. These include Brownsville in Licking County, Lafayette and Summerford in Madison County, South Vienna and Donnelsville in Clark County, and Brandt in Miami County. Many of Ohio’s National Road pike towns boast a number of early-mid 19th century buildings from the heyday of the National Road. Some early pike towns grew to become larger cities, such as Zanesville or St. Clairsville, while others remained small, bypassed by later development.

Y Bridge in Zanesville

The "Y" Bridge

Along the National Road is the famous "Y" Bridge in Zanesville. This bridge is still in use today, although it has gone through five versions since it was first built in the early 1800s. The Y Bridge crosses 2 rivers: Muskingum and Licking Rivers.