25 February 2013

Ride to Taylorsville Dam

Monday, 25 February 2013

Bikeway (red) from Dayton
to Taylorsville Dam
Because tomorrow's weather forecast includes rain and sleet, I felt today's sunny skies beckoning. And I felt I had enough time to extend yesterday's trip all the way to Taylorsville Dam. On my way, I stopped at the closed steel bridge that had crossed to Johnson Station. I glimpsed momentary bits of a little community that forms a sub-suburb to Huber Heights. I climbed the serpentine bikeway to just underneath Highway 40, and descended to Taylorsville Reserve. At my turnaround, I read the National Trail Association's memorial board that describes Tadmore and Taylorsville. The gist of it: poor little Tadmore, once at the crossings of an important railway, a canal system, and the National Road, it was doomed to oblivion because of the advance of the highway system.

Butler township (left) and Wayne
township as illustrated in 1874
I've been taking this route as a sort of genealogical research project. My focus is the National Road, on which my great-grandparents Robert and Leopolinda Ohnsat traveled between 1877 and March 1878. Though the National Road was in greatest use from about 1840 through 1860, a family anecdote describes their trip by Conestoga wagon from Pittsburgh PA to Tipton KS. (Whether true is another matter, since the railway system was a well-developed and more-reliable means of travel by 1877.)

And the National Road passes just north of Dayton, crossing through Vandalia and Englewood. An 1875 map I have shows the National Road and a bridge at Tadmer, just east of Vandalia. (When I find one, I will add a map of Bethel township from Miami county.) There are several other intriguing points:
  • The Miami Canal that passes over the Miami River halfway between Johnson's Station and Tadmer
  • The little town of Orsville that would become known as Taylorsville within 50 years
  • The Dayton & Michigan Railroad that has a modern-day parallel that also passes underneath Taylorsville Dam
Butler and Wayne townships as
illustrated in 1838
Today, U.S. Highway 40 takes nearly the same route as the National Road. But not always, as Highway 40 drops 1.5 miles south to cross Taylorsville Dam. A 1938 map shows U.S. 40. (When I find one, I will add a map of Bethel township from Miami county.) The river crossing at Tadmor (with a slight name change) is still present in 1938, though it no longer exists. There are other notable changes:
  • The renamed Miami & Erie Canal no longer crosses the river
  • Taylorsville has some platted homesteads
  • The renamed Baltimore & Ohio Railroad follows nearly the same route
Perhaps this spring, I can trek through the park system and find remnants of the old road. In the meantime, I plan to ride the bikeways near the National Road where it drops 0.8 mile south to cross Englewood Dam at Englewood, at the west side of Butler township. These two diversions between the National Road and U.S. 40 are among the few. The next diversion west is at Knightstown-Raysville-Ogden IN, the next east is at Cambridge OH (east of Zanesville).

Ride conditions
Temperature: 39 to 44°F at 16:24 to 18:30
Precipitation: none
Winds: 10 to 15 mph from the east
Clothing: Skinsuit, cotton undershirt, longsleeve undershirt, ankle socks, tights, light jacket, full-finger gloves
Bike: Lotus Legend fixed 48x16
Time: 02:06 for 26.0 miles
Bikeway users: 2 cyclists, 8 pedestrians, 3 dogs

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