National Road 200th Celebration includes Yard Sale

Several events are scheduled this month to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Route 40- The National Road. The events include a parade of vintage travel trailers, a “Great Race” featuring antique cars and a several-hundred mile long yard sale.

Congress passed legislation to create the National Road in 1806, and President Thomas Jefferson signed it. But one of Jefferson’s predecessors actually originated the plan for a national road

“The idea came from George Washington himself,” says Alan King, manager of the Ohio Historical Society’s National Road/Zane Grey Museum near Zanesville.

“Washington always dreamed of connecting the Potomac with the Ohio River,” King explains. “He thought it could be done by water, but the terrain was too rugged, so a road was the only way to connect the two bodies of water.”

King says public land in Ohio was sold to finance the building of the road from Cumberland, Maryland to Vandalia, Illinois. And the Road was built by hand thousands of workers using picks and shovels and hundreds of animals.

About 40 miles west of King’s National Road Museum, just west of National Trail Raceway, Thelma and Roy Brewer and friends are ready with their portion of the National Road yard sale. The sale is supposed to run from Baltimore to St. Louis.

Janis Jordan from Pataskala and her niece, Shannon Wince, from Columbus have stopped at the Brewer property to see what’s available. The two visit yard sales every Saturday, and they’ve done so for five years. Wince describes herself as a “yard sale fanatic.” Her five-year-old daughter has been going to yard sales since she was four months old. For now, she’s sitting in their van, taking a breather, “pacing herself,” her mother says.

Wince says they’ll continue shopping yard sales until her aunt – who’s doing the driving – says it’s time to go home. They have ice water in the van, and they hit the restrooms in the service stations, so, she says, they’re in good shape.

The town of Kirkersville is a few miles west of the Brewer property. There, in front of the United Methodist Church, is a sign that notes the 200th anniversary of the National Road. A few feet from the temporary sign is one of the white stone markers that guided early travelers along the National Road. Museum director Alan King says about one-third of the old markers remain. The one in Kirkersville reads: “Cumberland, 236 miles, Wheeling, 106, Zanesville 32 Columbus, 21. ”

“Cumberland, MD always at the top of the marker,” says King. “Larger towns were spelled out, but stone carvers didn’t do that with smaller towns. They just used initials. These markers have been in place for about 175 years.”

Thelma Brewer says she would love to travel the length of the National Road yard sale, but she has her own sale to attend to which features items collected over the past 3 decades. “Gotta stay here and make some money,” says Brewer.

The National Road yard sale continues this weekend at points along an 800-mile long stretch of the country’s first interstate highway.