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Interpretive panel installed on U.S. 40

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A crew from The Hoosier Company, Indianapolis, installed an interpretive panel Thursday morning in front of the Clay County Historical Museum. Both sides of the panel discuss the making of National Road, now known as United States 40. [Order this photo]
For close to a decade, officials with the Indiana National Road Association (INRA) have worked on a project.

And now it has come to fruition.

On Thursday, INRA officials met with members of the Clay County Historical Society in front of the Clay County Historical Museum as a crew from The Hoosier Company, Indianapolis, installed an interpretive panel, depicting a piece of history regarding National Road, now known as United States 40.

Clay County INRA representative John Mace told The Brazil Times the project had been ongoing for several years.

Mace said the panel in front of the museum is one of 15 spread across the state in the eight counties U.S. 40 runs through.

"It's been a huge project," Mace said. "There's a lot of history across all of those panels."

The panel facing west discusses the importance of brick in Clay County.

In a portion title, "The Road to Prosperity," the panel states how Brazil's brick and coal industries "fueled much of its growth in the late 19th and early 20th centuries."

It also discusses how most of the brick used to pave National Road across the state were made in Brazil.

The panel facing east along U.S. 40 discusses the history of National Road.

"The research was extremely time-consuming," Mace said. "It has been a long time coming."

Clay County Historical Society representative Vickie Mace added the panels describe the parts each county played in the building of the road.

"It's supposed to be a good tourism ploy," she said. "It's a win-win for us."

According to information provided by the INRA, U.S. 40 was the first federally funded interstate highway.

In 1806, President Thomas Jefferson approved the funding and in 1811, construction started in Cumberland, Md., westward to Vandalia, Ill. By 1834, Indiana's section of the road was completed.

In 1994, INRA was created to assist in designating National Road as a National Scenic Byway, which was obtained in 1998.

In 2002, National Road was designated an All-American Road. The interpretive panel project was born approximately 10 years ago. Initial plans called for the interpretation of significant locations along the road.

INRA utilized a TE grant and local match funds to research, develop and install the 15 panels.

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I think it would be nice if National Avenue was re-named Old National Trail or Old National Road. I know it'd take address changes on business letterheads, but I still think it's something that maybe could be looked into and would take a couple years to accomplish.

-- Posted by steve47834 on Thu, Nov 29, 2012, at 7:00 PM

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