TERRE HAUTE —
Rewind to the mid-1800s, when the trotting of a horse and buggy on National Road could be heard alongside the voices of people heading west, searching for opportunities.
Today, the sound of a car’s horn replaces the trot of a horse, as people drive down the nation’s first federally funded highway, U.S. 40.
To commemorate that history, the Indiana National Road Association — otherwise known as the INRA — has installed its 15th National Road interpretive panel in Indiana near a restored historic gasoline cottage at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology’s Art Nehf Field. The dedication ceremony was on Monday and marks the first interpretive panel in Vigo County.
“The National Road [U.S. 40] truly is the road that built America,” said Joe Frost, INRA’s executive director.
Stretching through Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, the historic road was seen as an avenue toward westward expansion, he said.
The INRA aims to preserve the cultural and historical significance of U.S. 40 and to bring public attention to its significance. The Indiana section of the highway stretches for 156 miles and was completed in 1834.
“Each interpretative panel has two sides [that] tell their own tale about the historic road,” Frost added.
Building the panel near the restored filling station made sense because they are both connected to U.S. 40’s history, said Jim Conwell, Rose Hulman’s president.
“I am honored that we have these landmarks on Rose Hulman’s campus,” he said.
The filling station was built in 1931 as a Texaco on U.S. 40. In 1999, a collaborative effort among Bill and Trish Eccles, the Indiana National Road Association, Joy Sacopulous, Rose-Hulman, First Financial Bank and Indiana Landmarks saved the building by moving it to Rose-Hulman’s campus. Since then, the small building has been transformed into a concession stand and bathroom.
As the red ribbon was cut and the ceremony ended, the first of two interpretative panels was formally dedicated to the public. The other panel is located at ISU, and a formal dedication will be held at a later date.
For more information on how to become an Indiana National Road Association member, call 765-478-3172 or email HLFIERO@
Reporter Dustyn Fatheree can be reached at 812-231-4255 and dustyn.fatheree