National Geographic : 1961 Jul
HS EKTACHROME(ABOVE)AND KODACHROMEBY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICPHOTOGRAPHERDEAN CONGER© N.G.S. Wayne waited until dark for a showdown with the crooked sheriff. At the village of National Road, Ohio, an elderly resident told us of changes he had seen. Had he lived here all his life? "Oh, no," he said. "I was born and raised on a farm two miles north." In 1825, seven years after the National Road reached Wheeling, construction began on its western extension through Ohio and Indiana. As far as Zanesville it approximated the route of Ebenezer Zane's Trace of 1796, a horse path. From there it knifed through trackless territory, reaching Columbus in 1833. Lone Skyscraper Signals Columbus Columbus seemed a long time coming, for we could see its one tall skyscraper from far out. A filling-station humorist said, "It seems farther than it is, but you'll find it ain't." This is the biggest city in the world named for the discoverer of America. There's a stat ue to him in front of the capitol, which Ohio ans call "one of the purest examples of Greek Doric architecture in the United States." "Where's the dome?" Will demanded. "Buckeyes have to be different," a bystand er said. "We put a cupola on our building." In the great chamber where Lincoln spoke in 1861 on his way to Washington, we mount- ed the dais and took turns in the high-backed chair that they told us he used. Later, on his final trip through Columbus, Lincoln lay in state in the rotunda. More than fifty thousand mourners filed past the black catafalque on April 29, 1865. The nostalgic Indiana of poetry and song came through to us at Greenfield, boyhood home of James Whitcomb Riley, and at Terre Haute, where Paul Dresser grew up and wrote "On the Banks of the Wabash Far Away." Greenfield's Riley Memorial Park lies beside U. S. 40, adjacent to fields where the Hoosier poet must often have seen the frost "on the punkin" and the fodder "in the shock." Near the site of "The Old Swimmin' Hole" we saw hundreds of Greenfield's youngsters splashing in a modern pool to the recorded strains of "Come with me... to the sea of love." The industrial look of Terre Haute today makes it hard to get a view of the Wabash River that might have inspired a song writer. The river brought New Englanders, then a wave of southerners, to the raw settlement on "high ground"- above the flood line. When the National Road was laid out in the mid dle 1830's, it guided a stream of northerners and European immigrants into the States north and west of the Ohio.