This page is part of the Warren County Ohio GenWeb project
You are our [an error occurred while processing this directive] visitor since 1 December 2004 -- thanks for stopping by!

Roads, Turnpikes & Canals


Transcription contributed by Martie Callihan 1 December 2004

The History of Warren County Ohio
Part III. The History of Warren County by Josiah Morrow
Chapter VI. General Progress
(Chicago, IL: W. H. Beers Co, 1882; reprint, Mt. Vernon, IN: Windmill Publications, 1992)


The first roads in Warren County wore mere traces or paths for horses. The trace of Harmar's army was used as a road at the beginning of this century. Public highways were soon located, but these for years were little more than tracks through the woods cleared of timber, with few bridges, and in the rich and fresh condition of the soil became almost impassable in the wet seasons. Wagoning, however, was a most important business, and it was common for several wagons to travel together for the mutual aid to be derived from combining teams when a wagon stuck in the mud. It was wagoning in this way, as well as driving a wagon-load of provisions for Harrison's army on the swamps of the St. Mary's in 1812, that gave the popular sobriquet of "the wagoner boy" to Thomas Corwin, who, it is said, proved himself "a good whip and an excellent reinsman."

After the admission of Ohio into the Union, Congress applied three per cent of the proceeds of the public lands sold within the State to the construction of roads in the State. This three per cent fund was applied under the direction of the

Legislature. The roads laid out and constructed by authority of the Legislature were known as State roads. The first and most important State roads in Warren County were those described in old statutes, as "the State road leading from Chillicothe by the court house in the county of Warren to the center of the College Township west of the Great Miami," and "the State road from Cincinnati to Chillicothe by James Hopkins' tavern east of the Little Miami." For opening and making both these roads, the Legislature made the first appropriations February 18, 1804. The second-named State road followed the general direction of the road now known as the Montgomery pike. Leading as it did from Cincinnati, the commercial emporium of the State, to the then capital of the State, where it united with Zane's trace, leading from Wheeling through Zanesville, Lancaster and Chillicothe to Limestone, it was for more than a quarter of a century the great route of travel eastward from Cincinnati.

Below are given the roads in Warren County which received the benefit of the three percent fund in 1820, the amount appropriated for each road and the names of the Commissioners appointed by the Legisiature to expend the money. The total amount appropriated in the State was $59,000, of which Warren County received $1,000.

On the State road from Chillicothe to the College Township west of the Great Miami, for the part west of Lebanon. $50, William Boal; for the part east of Lebanon, $50; John T. Jack. On the State road from Lebanon by way of Jacob D. Lowe's to Cincinnati, $150; William Coulson. On the State road from Lebanon leading through Waynesville, $100; Noah Haines. On the State road from Waynesville to Wilmington, $50; Noah Haines. On the road from Lebanon to Hamilton, $75; Jonathan Tullis. On the State road from Lebanon to Wilmington, $100; James Wilkerson. On the State road from Cincinnati to Chillicothe, by John Hopkins' tavern, east of the Little Miami, $145; John Hopkins. On the road leading from Lebanon to Williamsburg, by way of Deerfield, $50; John Hopkins. On the road leading from Lebanon to Dayton, as far as Benjamin Carty's, $50; and from Carty's north, $25; and on the road from Carty's toward Xenia, $25; Henry King. On the State road from Dayton to Cincinnati, which passes through Franklin, $100; Samuel Caldwell. And the sum of $30 was appropriated for opening and improving a road, or so much thereof as lies in the county of Warren, from Wilmington to intersect the State road from Chillicothe to Cincinnati, at a point east of the Little Miami; Mahlon Roach, Commissioner.

For more than the third of a century after the organization of the county, we had no graveled or macadamized highways. Long after the road through Lebanon became an important stage route, the coaches stalled and were left in the mud, while not unfrequently the passengers rode the horses into town; and along the route Postmasters sat up at night awaiting the arrival of the mail due one or two days before. Stage coaches began to be important means of carrying passengers and mails on the principal thoroughfares in Ohio about 1825. After the completion of the National road as far as Columbus, about 1836, travel from Cincinnati to the Eastern cities was diverted to Columbus through Mason, Lebanon and Waynesville. The time in 1837 was forty-nine and a half hours from Wheeling to Columbus, and twenty-four and a half hours from Columbus to Cincinnati. In 1842, Charles Dickens made the stage coach journey from Cincinnati to Columbus over a macadamized road the whole way at the rate of six miles an hour. Leaving Cincinnati at 8 o'clock in the morning, the passengers dined at Lebanon, and, traveling all night, reached Columbus a little before 7 o'clock the next morning. The great novelist describes the coach in which he rode as "a great mail coach, whose huge cheeks are so very ruddy and plethoric, that it appears to be troubled with a tendency

blank page
of blood to the head. Dropsical it certainly is for it will hold a dozen passengers inside. But wonderful to add, it is very clean and bright, being nearly new."

Before the first railroads in Ohio were completed, there was a demand for a more rapid method of communicating intelligence than the mail coach. On July 1,1837, a horse express was put on the road from Fredericktown, Md., to Cincinnati, carrying special mails from the Eastern cities. The schedule time of this express is given as follows: Forty-four and a half hours from Baltimore to Columbus, fifteen hours from Columbus to Cincinnati, by way of Dayton and Franklin. The route for the horse express was sometimes through Lebanon. Along the route, the people, were on the lookout at their doors to see the blooded horses, ridden by boys, go by on the run. The inaugural address of President Polk, in 1845, was carried from Columbus to Cincinnati in nine and a half hours by special express. This is said to have been the fastest mail time ever made by horses in Ohio, being about eleven and a half miles per hour


In 1835, the first macadamized road to Cincinnati was built. The turnpike from Lebanon to Cincinnati was completed about the year 1838, and turnpikes from Lebanon to Dayton and Waynesville were completed one or two years later. From this time forward every year added a few miles to the macadamized roads of the county. The Cincinnati, Montgomery, Hopkinsville, Roachester and Clarksville Macadamized Turnpike Company was chartered in 1834, and the road completed to Hopkinsville about 1840. It is worthy of note that, while this pike followed the line of one of the oldest and most important State roads leading to Cincinnati, yet no bridge was built at the crossing of the Little Miami until the construction of the turnpike, when a toll-bridge was completed at Foster's Crossings. The first turnpikes were constructed by incorporated companies and were toll roads. Since the year 1865, a large number of free pikes have been constructed, and most of the toll-pikes in Warren County have been made free. The county has now 120 turnpikes, with an aggregate length of about 550 miles, constructed at a cost of over $500,000. The county stands among the very first in the State for the number and excellence of its graveled roads. Perhaps few villages of its size in the United States are better favored in the particular of good roads leading in every direction than the county seat of Warren County.


Of the three great improved methods of land transit— railroads, canals and turnpikes- canals were first in the order of time. Of the two great canals connecting the Ohio with the lakes, constructed by the State, one passed through the northwestern part of Warren County. The Miami Canal, begun in 1825, completed to Dayton in 1828, was an improvement of the very highest value to the northwestern part of the county and to the town of Franklin

FOOTNOTES: [a place to add additional information that you might want to submit]


NOTICE: All documents and electronic images placed on the Warren County OHGenWeb site remain the property of the contributors, who retain publication rights in accordance with US Copyright Laws and Regulations. These documents may be used by anyone for their personal research. Persons or organizations desiring to use this material, must obtain the written consent of the contributor, or their legal representative, and contact the listed Warren County OHGenWeb coordinator with proof of this consent.

This page created 1 December 2004 and last updated 14 September, 2016
© 2004-2005  Arne H Trelvik  All rights reserved