National Road was the first federally funded interstate highway,
built between Cumberland, Md., and Wheeling, W.Va., early in the
19th Century. The route itself was not new. Prior to becoming the
National Road, it was known as Braddock's Road in the French
and Indian War time period, and prior to that it was Nemacolin's
Path, named for the Delaware Indian chief. By the 1840s, it had
become the busiest transportation route in America. Over it's miles
lumbered stagecoaches, Conestoga wagons with hopeful settlers, freight
wagons pulled by braces of mules, peddlers, caravans, carriages,
foot travelers and mounted riders on their way westward.
Present day US Route 40 follows much of the original road and
is still heavily traveled, making it the longest continuous-use
highway in the nation. The Pennsylvania Department of Community
Affairs has designated this corridor the National Road Heritage
Park of Pennsylvania, one of the state's heritage parks designed
to preserve and interpret history throughout the region.
During its heyday (1820-1850), the National Road spawned inns,
hostels, taverns, a service industry, and and retail trade to serve
the many who traveled the road. Although most structures of the
era are a distant memory, the area has preserved a number of structures
of the period. Notable among them are Washington's
Tollhouse, and structures in Hopwood,
can retrace the paths their ancestors walked or rode upon to reach
the western frontier beyond the Alleghenies. Mile markers, tollhouses
and inns are tangible vestiges of the past. Other affiliated sites
located nearby round out the tale of the National Road by retelling
the story of Albert
Gallatin, the Road's founder, and of the French and Indian War,
the Civil War and the economic and industrial factors that shaped
the Road and the nation.
National Road as taken from Microsoft® Encarta®
Encyclopedia 2001. © 1993-2000 Microsoft Corporation.
National Road, also called Cumberland Road, 19th-century highway,
extending for nearly 1300 km (800 mi) from Cumberland, Maryland,
to Vandalia, Illinois. Now part of U.S. Highway 40, this road was
important in opening the West and Southwest to settlement from the
East. Construction began in 1811 and ended in 1852 because of the
increasing importance of railroads in westward migration. The road
was to have been built by the federal government with funds derived
from sales of public lands in the states traversed, but additional
appropriations proved necessary. The government advanced $6,821,246,
largely because of the efforts of Senator Henry Clay. By 1856 the
government had turned over to the states through which the highway
passed the portions of road included within each state. With the
advent of the automobile, many improvements were made.
"National Road." Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia
2001. © 1993-2000 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.