Side A: Near this site on July 4, 1825 ground was broken in Ohio for the National Road. The National Road was America’s first federally planned and funded highway and linked the east coast of the United States to Old Northwest Territory. Albert Gallatin, President Thomas Jefferson’s Secretary of the Treasury, conceived the idea for the road and advocated for it. Construction began in 1811 at Cumberland, Maryland, but was interrupted by the War of 1812. The road reached Wheeling in 1818, but was again delayed until 1825 because of debates over the constitutionality of federal funding for road and infrastructure projects. The National Road in Belmont County began at Bridgeport on the Ohio River and ran 28.5 miles to the western end of the county at Fairview.
Side B: On September 7, 1801, Belmont County became the ninth county in what became the State of Ohio. On April 1, 1803, the state’s first General Assembly appointed a commission to determine if it was necessary to move the county seat from Pultney (south of Bellaire). The commission found that St. Clairsville was the “most proper place” and the county seat moved in April 1804. Around 1857, the need for repairs to the “Old Courthouse” sparked a county seat “war” between Pultney and St. Clairsville that lasted 25 years. The Ohio General Assembly ended the dispute in 1883 by “indefinitely postponing” a bill to move the seat to Bellaire. The present courthouse and adjoining sheriff’s office and jail were completed by 1888 and are part of the St. Clairsville Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.
Sponsors: Ohio National Road Association, Rotary Club of St. Clairsville, and The Ohio History Connecion