When it first took shape back in the 1800s, America’s National Road gave settlers the opportunity to go west and seek new destinies. As the thoroughfare came through Indiana, it fed the development of villages and communities across Wayne County, laying the foundations for U.S. 40 as we know it today.
Navigating the National Road is certainly much easier now than it was in a horse-drawn wagon, and although it’s possible to quickly cover the 25-mile distance from the Ohio state line through Richmond to Dublin at the western Wayne County border, why would you want to rush? Take your time to stop along the way and explore the history of Indiana’s most legendary stretch of road. A series of interpretative panels stationed across the Wayne County portion provide backstory and colorful details.
Where I-70 meets U.S. 40 on the eastern edge of Richmond, the Old National Road Welcome Center and Gift Shop makes a logical first stop where you can grab a map and get your bearings. From there, the National Road winds through Richmond, revealing glimpses of retail development and shopping centers, Glen Miller Park, handsome historic homes, the downtown district, Whitewater Gorge and Earlham College. The journey then segues into Centerville. Keep your eyes peeled to spot a few antique shops and the Centerville Arches, a handful of quirky architectural features that accentuate the 19th-century brick rowhouses lining the road.
Continuing west, visitors can appreciate the natural scenery of wide-open spaces and rural farmland before arriving into Pennville and East Germantown. Next stop — Cambridge City, known as the heart of antique alley, populated with more quaint antique stores, friendly small-town eateries and colorful street murals. Mount Auburn and Dublin mark the western boundary of Wayne County as U.S. 40 continues on into Henry County toward Indianapolis.
Getting hungry? You’ll find plenty of dining and drinking options along the Old National Road, from hometown favorites such as Lumpy’s Cafe, the Hilltop Drive-In and the No. 9 Grill in Cambridge City to Aj's Main Street Diner in Richmond and 5 Arch Brewing Company in Centerville. A variety of accommodations also awaits, from recognizable hotel franchises to charming National Road bed-and-breakfasts like the Philip W. Smith B&B in a lovingly restored Victorian residence across from Glen Miller Park in Richmond, or the Inn at High Hats above an antique mall and the new Lofts on Main luxury suites, both in Cambridge City.
To learn more about the history of the National Road you can stop at the Old National Road Welcome Center where our friendly volunteers will greet you with a National Road packet full of historic facts, sites to see and more.