U.S. 40 auto tour drives through Putnamville

Monday, March 21, 2011

PUTNAMVILLE -- In celebration of the 200th anniversary of the construction of U.S. 40, the National Road, an antique auto tour will bisect Putnam County this spring.

The historic auto tour is part of the larger event planned by the National Road Alliance that will begin in Vandalia, Ill., on May 1 and end May 8 in Cumberland, Md.

The tour will make a half-hour stop in Putnam County at 3 p.m. May 2 at the historic Putnamville United Methodist Church. The public may view the cars during the stop. The church and museum will be open for tour members and visitors to experience.

As the caravan crosses each state, the lead vehicle will carry a "set of bells" to the next state line and hand them off to the next state contingent. The bells replicate those that hung from the harnesses of oxen as they pulled the wagons westward along the National Road.

The Indiana portion of the tour will begin May 2, but participants are invited to Marshall, Ill., on May 1 for an evening banquet and bell ceremony. On May 2, the caravan will travel to Terre Haute, touring various sites with lunch in Brazil, and a banquet in Indianapolis at the Medical History Museum (former Central State Hospital on the city's west side).

The Indiana National Road Association (INRA) will host the banquet celebration. INRA members may attend for free, while the public is invited to partake for $15 per person. That fee will cover the cost of dinner, a short program, a tour of the landmark facility and INRA membership. RSVPs for the evening event are requested before April 25.

After an overnight in Indianapolis on May 2, the tour will progress through Greenfield and finish in Richmond's Historic Depot District where the bells will be passed on to Ohio.

The tour will culminate with a bicentennial celebration in Cumberland, where construction began and the National Road Alliance will present the bells that traveled across each state to the city.

For more information, interested persons may call 317-822-7939 or e-mail at jjarzen@indiananationalroad.org for details on the Indiana tour schedule, the complete tour across all six states and for the ceremony in Cumberland, Md.

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