Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ball State University National Road Project

National Road Farmhouse To Reopen as Heritage Site
(Provided by J.P. Hall, Indiana Landmarks)

The National Road Heritage Site at the Huddleston Farmhouse promotes public awareness of one of the first significant national engineering achievements in American transportation. The Huddleston Farmhouse is on the National Road (US Highway 40) at the western edge of Cambridge City. Indiana Landmarks will reopen its 1841 Huddleston Farmhouse in September with an entire floor of new exhibits focused on the historic National Road, from the pioneer era to the present. The new exhibits will debut on September 10 with a free open house from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. in conjunction with Cambridge City’s Canal Days festival.

The exhibits tell the 200-year story of the National Road from its start in Cumberland, Maryland, in 1806 through Indiana in the mid-1820’s to its end in Vandalia, Illinois. The new exhibits allow visitors to hear from a covered wagon traveler about the conditions on the road, the food they ate, and where they found lodging. Visitors will experience the road surfaces over time, from a bumpy mud track dotted with tree stumps to brick, concrete, and the current asphalt.

Children can try out the straw-filled mattress like the ones pioneers used on the floor of the travelers’ kitchens. At an interactive wall-sized map, visitors can click on places from Maryland to Illinois to learn more about sites to visit on the National Road today. A simulation allows tourists to drive along the road viewing important National Road landmarks of the past.

Indiana Landmarks received a National Scenic Byways Grant to create the new exhibits, which were produced by Split Rock Studios in collaboration with the Ball State University Department of Telecommunications and the Indiana National Road Association. The project also received support from private donors across the state.

Nancy Carlson, Associate Professor in the Department of Telecommunications, coordinated a student team to create the documentary completed in 2009 as an immersive learning project from the National Scenic Byways Grant from the Federal Highway Administration. Carlson and her students researched stories from residents who lived near the National Road in Indiana, which stretches from Richmond to Terre Haute near Indiana Highway 40. According to Carlson, “no one has told the many human stories of building the road, living along it or traveling across it.” The GIS Research and Map Collection (GRMC) and University Libraries provided maps, books, and other research resources for the project. The documentary, Movers and Stakers: Stories along the Indiana National Road, is available from the Educational Resources Collection in Bracken Library.

For more information on the National Road Heritage Site at Huddleston Farmhouse, contact J.P. Hall at 317-822-7937 or visit For more information about the maps of the National Road, please contact the GRMC at 765-285-1097.

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