A 501(c)(3), not-for-profit volunteer group of Indiana-based trail and National Road enthusiasts, the National Road Heritage Trail, Inc. (NRHT) promotes and facilitates development of a 160-mile trail intended to span Indiana from the Illinois state line near Terre Haute to the Ohio state line near Richmond. It uses the former Pennsylvania and Vandalia rail corridors, where possible, and closely follows the Historic National Road for much of its route.
The Historic National Road was America’s first interstate highway, constructed in Indiana between 1829 and 1834 and providing the primary gateway to western settlement. Nicknamed the “Main Street of America” and “The Road That Built the Nation,” as many as 200 wagons per day passed through small towns that sprang up along its route.
Today, the Historic National Road is a National Scenic Byway, designated as a state scenic route in 1996 and a nationally recognized All-American Road in 2003. Most of the original route has become US-40, with older sections visible and navigable in several locations.
The Indiana National Road Association, formed in 1994, is a partner of the National Road Heritage Trail, which closely follows the road’s alignment, except in Putnam County. On Putnam County’s eastern border with Hendricks County, the 18-mile trail segment enters in the middle of the county, travels slightly southwest to, and through, Greencastle – the county seat – then travels southwest, where it begins to again parallel US-40 before ending in an area marked for future trail expansion. In several places across Indiana, the trail remains a work in progress. The vision is for historic sites along US-40 to be accessible to the trail, and portions may be upgraded to include bicycle accommodations.