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NRHT, Inc launched this 150-mile initiative in 2004 to expand and link the five local trail projects that had 15 miles of open trail on the ground at that time.  The concept immediately received support from the state government, county governments, local governments, and local citizens’ groups along the route and received grants for a $100,000 feasibility study in 2005 as part of the state’s Quality of Place Initiative offered by the Office of Tourism Development.  NRHT, Inc hired the Indianapolis Landscape Architecture firm Storrow-Kinsella Associates to perform the study and formed a 15-member steering group from across the state to guide it which resulted in publication in 2006 of the 9-volume National Road Heritage Trail Development Guide.  As a result of that research, the State then designated the cross-state NRHT as one its Priority Visionary Trails.

NRHT, Inc pursued its mission objectives from 2004 through mid 2010 as a steering group under and with much guidance from the statewide 501c3 Indiana Trails, formerly Indiana Trails Fund.  In 2010, NRHT, Inc obtained its own 501c3 designation in order to provide a more focused service to the local trail projects along the NRHT route.  Through the ensuing years, NRHT, Inc has had agreements to provide 501c3 support to local trail organizations in Hendricks County and Putnam County.  As planned, these activities have since mostly transitioned to local 501c3s and local governments, though NRHT, Inc is still closely collaborating in Putnam County.  To see how the trails have grown along this route, please visit our maps page.

The National Road Heritage Trail will closely follow the alignment of three transportation corridors which cover several modes of transit.

The Pennsylvania / Vandalia Railroad Corridor


The Vandalia Railroad was formed in 1905 as a collection of a number of railroads between St Louis & Indianapolis. In 1921, part became known as the Pennsylvania Railroad.  
At one time, most of the bridge carpenters along this line lived in Coatesville, leading to the town's nickname of "Chiseltown", in reference to their tool of the trade.

Most of the line was abandoned in 1976 by Penn Central and in 1982 by Conrail.  The western portion between Greencastle and Terre Haute continued into the mid 1990's as the Terre Haute, Brazil, & Eastern Railroad.  The Pennsy / Vandalia corridor is still largely intact with a few scattered incursions.

See the Vandalia Trail's history page for more local details.

The Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern Interurban Railroad Corridor

Incorporated in 1907, the Terre Haute, Indianapolis & Eastern Traction Co. was a conglomerate of several existing railway companies, one of which included an Indianapolis-Richmond link.  The new company then completed a link from Indy to Terre Haute.  It was acquired by Indiana Railroad in 1931, which later operated buses on the Terre Haute route after rail service was discontinued in 1938.  Rail service from Indy to Richmond was phased out between 1932 and 1937.

Portions of this corridor are still clearly visible, especially between Indianapolis and Terre Haute. Two of the former passenger stations have been restored in Plainfield and in Amo in Hendricks County.  Electric power lines, which once powered the trains, still mark the interurban route.  The bridge over White Lick Creek near Cartersburg in Hendricks County actually still stands, whereas the parallel Pennsy bridge has been removed.

The Historic National Road Corridor

The Historic National Road, America's first interstate highway, was constructed in Indiana between 1829 and 1834 and provided the primary gateway to western settlement.  Nicknamed the "Main Street of America" and "The Road That Built the Nation", as many as 200 wagons per day passed through the small towns which sprang up along its route.

The Historic National Road is a National Scenic Byway, and was designated as a state scenic route in 1996 and a nationally recognized All-American Road in 2003.  Most of the original route has become US 40, although older alignments are visible or navigable in several locations.

The Indiana National Road Association, supported by the Historic Landmarks, was formed in 1994 and is a partner of the National Road Heritage Trail project.

The National Road Heritage Trail will closely follow the alignment of the Historic National Road with the exception of in western Hendricks County and much of Putnam County.  Historic sites along the road will be accessible to the trail and portions may be upgraded to include bicycle accommodations.