One more hour and I'll be home
Rest my body, and rest my bones
Can't be more than a mile or so, to
. . . . . . . . . . .
I walked half way from Louisville
There she lies, at the foot of the hill
Shinin' like a jewel in the valley below . . .
Back in the 1960s, when Bill Anderson wrote those lyrics ("Cincinnati, Ohio", recorded by Connie Smith), his homesick traveller might've been walking along US Highway 42, at that time the main Louisville – Cincinnati highway. Today, that traveller would be walking Interstate 71 and probably be wiped out by a fast-moving vehicle.
US 42 didn't always run down to Louisville. As originally planned by the Joint Board on Interstate Highways in 1926, US 42 began in Cleveland and continued on a diagonal track to Cincinnati. It wasn't until 1932 that the route was extended southward to Louisville.
There, at a confusing intersection with US Highway 60 and US Highway 31E, US 42 begins its leisurely trek up through northern Kentucky. Staying close to the Ohio River, US 42's first interesting port of call comes at Bedford, Kentucky, where it meets US Highway 421. During most of the 19th Century, the city was home to the popular Bedford Springs spa.
US 42 turns a bit more inland for another twenty miles or so, but returns to the Ohio River at Carrollton, Kentucky, where the river meets the Kentucky River. Near Carrollton, the traveller might choose to relax at the General Butler State Resort Park and visit the Butler-Turpin house, built for the General's family in 1859.
Continuing northwesterly, US 42 enters the river port of Warsaw. Originally a port known first as Great Landing and later as Fredricksburg, it was renamed for the Polish city when the town fathers discovered there was already a Fredricksburg in the state. Warsaw is the seat of Gallatin County and home of the popular River Days celebration.
A few miles from Warsaw, US 42 meets up with US Highway 127, a regional route that's gained national status due to its having replaced US Highway 27 in Michigan. The two routes share pavement through Florence, Kentucky, where they join US Highway 25. This stretch of road is part of the old Dixie Highway system and runs on into Covington. The highway crosses the river into Ohio and the city of Cincinnati, where US 25 ends, US 127 goes its own way, and US 42 returns to its own pavement.
Cincinnati, known as the Queen City, is a marvelous destination for any traveller. Its restored Union Station, quaint shops and coffeehouses in Over-The-Rhine (so named by the many German immigrants to the city), and thriving riverfront are among the things that have made it great. Cincinnati is also home to many well-known sports stadiums, including the Paul Brown Stadium and the Great American Ball Park, home to the Cincinnati Reds.
Returning to the road, US 42 heads out of the city, still running northwesterly, and staying close to Interstate 71. The highway soon arrives at Xenia, conveniently located in the “transportation triangle” between Interstates 70, 71, and 75. Situated thus, the city has emerged as a regional business center and transportation hub. Xenia is unfortunately also known for its many tornadoes, the most devastating of which occurred on April 3, 1974 and killed 34 people. Novelist and educator Helen Hooven Santmyer, who wrote ... And Ladies of the Club in 1984 at the age of 88, lived in Xenia for most of her life.
At Delaware, US 42 encounters yet another important north-south highway, US Highway 23. Here the traveller will find Ohio Wesleyan University, and its famous observatory, the Perkins Observatory, built by Professor Hirum Perkins for the university. It houses a 32-foot reflector and the observatory is said to be haunted by the ghost of old Professor Perkins himself! The Columbus Zoo is nearby as well, for those wishing something a bit more down-to-earth.
The next area of interest along US 42 is the city of Mansfield, where they promise “America at its Best!”. Be that as it may, Mansfield does have a number of reasons to stop by, among them the Jones Potato Chip Factory, where visitors may sample warm “marcelled” potato chips; the Lincoln Highway National Museum, a center devoted to this famous highway; and the Mansfield Playhouse, in continuous operation since 1929.
As it leaves Mansfield, US 42 continues on through northern Ohio, still remaining close to I-71. At Medina, Ohio, it turns due north and reaches the greater Cleveland metropolitan area. Cleveland, on the shore of Lake Erie, bills itself as “The New American City”. It is the home of Case Western Reserve University and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Cleveland is Ohio's second-largest city and has served as the location for many popular films, including A Christmas Story and Spider-Man 3.
US 42 enters the city first as Pearl Road and becomes West 25th Street when it reaches downtown Cleveland. There, it comes to its northern terminus at a junction with US Highway 6. At that point, US 42 has racked up 355 miles total length. Though Interstate 71 has siphoned off a great deal of its traffic, US 42 remains a useful regional highway, connecting two of Ohio's most important cities with Louisville.
Droz, Robert V., "Sequential List of US Highways", US Highways From US 1 to US 830
. April 2006. <http://www.us-highways.com/us1430.htm> (August 2006)
Sanderson, Dale, “US Highway Ends”, End of U.S. highway 42
. May 2005. <http://www.geocities.com/usend4049/End042/end042.htm> (August 2006)
entries on some cities named.