On Thursday October 22, 2015, over a dozen local residents gathered to hear Scott Suther deliver a presentation on the National Road through Clark and Miami Counties.
Suther, who was representing the New Carlisle Historical Society and the Medway Historical Society, provided a thorough history of the development of the businesses along the 8.25 miles of US 40 through Clark County.
US 40 was one of the original 1925 U.S. Highways; however, it was built on top of several older highways, most notably the National Road and the Victory Highway. The National Road was created in 1806 by an act of Congress to serve as the first federally funded highway construction project. It connected Cumberland, Maryland, with Vandalia, Illinois. The Victory Highway was designated as a memorial to World War I veterans and ran from Kansas City, Missouri to San Francisco, California.
From the time it was first paved in 1921 until I 70 was built during the late fifties and early sixties, US 40 provided cross-country travelers one of the few means of crossing the country. The businesses that popped up and thrived during this time are still evident along US 40 today.
Suther conducted a great deal of research in public records and newspapers from that time and came away well versed in the history of the region. He began his presentation in the western most portion of Bethel Township, Clark County where it abuts Bethel Township, Miami. According to Suther, Lavy Enterprises, which borders Miami County, was purchased by the Lavy family in 1975. The first business, the Lavys established was raising strawberries and for many years, motorist on US 40 were treated to a giant strawberry on top of the fruit stand from which the Lavys sold their produce. For the last 25 years, the business has operated as a repair business of farm equipment, heavy equipment, and diesel trucks.
Down the road at the intersection of US 40 and SR 235, the JJ Frostop operated from May of 1961 until 1974. In 1976, Lowell McGlothin bought the location and opened Faces, which operated until 1982. In 1985, the restaurant opened as Country Connections and operated until 2001 when the building burned to the ground.
The area at the intersection of US 40 and SR 235 was known as Stringtown and featured Scarff’s Farm Market, which opened in 1933 and was the first registered farm market in Ohio. Various businesses operated at the intersection including an apple stand, an auto court, restaurant and more recently a craft shop, and bakery. Stringtown declined after 1961 when Park Layne was build and Fulmer’s was established in 1963.
The area at the intersection of what is now Lake Road and US 40 served as the main entrance into Crystal Lake. In 1925, the building that now houses Bill’s Place was built and served as Crystal Lake Camp. The camp offered three doubles and two cabins for tourist crossing Ohio. Initially Lake Road was called Crystal Lake Road.
Several camp grounds sprang up along US 40 offering lodging and meals to tourist and travelers during US 40’s heydays including what is now the Hilltop Auto Parts at US 40 and SR 571, the Olive Branch Tourist Camp where New Carlisle Baptist is located, Garfield Grove Tourist Cabins, The Sandman Hotel, Adobe Hotel and American House Hotel located in Donnelsville.
Forgy Station at the intersection of US 40 and Lammes was the first stop out of New Carlisle where the railroad crossed US 40. The railroad opened in 1881 and Forgy Station served as a post office from 1883 to 1923.
Glen Haven Memorial Park was established in 1935, which remains the largest cemetery in Bethel Township.
The eastern border of Bethel Township, which ends just outside of the city of Springfield featured Buckeye Cement Products established in 1940 and later operated as Spragg Pool. At the very edge of the township Eastern Tool operated for several years and is now gone.
Suther has a great deal more information on the history of all of the businesses that have operated along US 40. However, he is already planning is next historical project. He hopes to develop and present the history of Donnelsville.