Our route today was again along the National Road. The first stop of the day was in Greenup, IL. Located on the Embarras River, Greenup was named for William Greenup, supervisor of National Road construction in Illinois. Platted in 1834, the town’s lifeline was the National Road which brought settlers and travelers. Abraham Lincoln has a lot of connections with this part of the state. He was the defense attorney for an 1847 manslaughter case that was heard at the Cumberland County court in Greenup. Local legend also claims that Lincoln, his father and a cousin helped build the original covered bridge over the Embarras River. Another legendary visitor was Frank James who participated in the 1900 Cumberland County Fair as the honorary starter of the horse races.
The town is nicknamed the “Village of the Porches” because most buildings downtown have second floor porches. No one in town I spoke with nor any where I looked on the internet tonight could explain why there are porches in Greenup and nowhere else along the route of the National Road. There is a military museum in the former public library, a 1904 Carnegie funded project. It house donations from Cumberland County residents and covers military history from the early Indian wars to Iraqi Freedom.
Leaving town, we followed the National Road signs that led to a reconstructed covered bridge over the Embarras River. As Sue read from the tourist guide that “in 2000 the one-lane bridge was rebuilt to look old…it has no weight restrictions” I got a glimpse of the bridge from about a quarter mile away. Nobody said anything about height restrictions and it was clear to me that Winnie just wouldn’t fit. Fortunately I was able to duck into the last county fairgrounds entrance and reverse course. If I had passed the entrance, there would have been no place to turn around before the covered bridge. When your pointed in the wrong direction and you can’t go any further, it means that I have to get out unhook the car and figure out how I’m going to turn around a 33ft vehicle on a 16ft wide road. I’ve been able to avoid this scenario so far this trip.
Our next stop was the “MY Garage Museum” just north of Effingham. The museum is on the grounds of Mid America Motorworks and contains about 20 rare Corvettes valued up to $2.5 million. Mike Yager (MY) is one of the top North American car collectors and the Corvettes in the museum represent prototypes, alpha and beta models from Chevrolet Engineering, and limited production models produced for Chevrolet racing. Yager’s business is providing parts and accessories for Corvettes and air cooled VW’s. The museum also houses a couple of Herbie (#53) VW Bugs from the movies. There is also a restored 1910 gas station on the grounds. It was moved from Casey, IL to its current location in 1995. The whole complex is located on 454 Big Block Road.
On our way to our overnight stop in Mulberry Grove, we passed through Vandalia which served as the capital of Illinois in the early 1800’s before it was moved to Springfield. We stopped at the “Madonna of the Trails” statue. It is one of 12 that were placed in each of the states that the National Road passes by the Daughters of the American Revolution to honor the Pioneer Mothers of the covered wagon days. I’ve seen the ones in Richmond, IN and Springfield, OH on previous trips. We’ll try to get to some of the others as we wind our way west later this summer. Tomorrow we’ll pull into Edwardsville, IL to visit some friends from the 87th Infantry Division Legacy Association.