National Road


The 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 Tavern, Nemacolin Castle, Searights Tollhouse, Addison Tollhouse, and structures in Hopwood, Uniontown, and Brownsville.


Visitors 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.





  While you're in the area, you might check out these attractions.

Washington's Tavern
Nemacolin Castle

Searights Tollhouse
Addison Tollhouse
Scenery Hill
Friendship Hill
Historic Uniontown
Historic Brownsville
Flatiron Building
Dunlap Creek Bridge


Related Links

Route40 - National Road
Conner Prairie Farm Web Site
National Road Heritage Park
National Road Festival 2000 (Washington Co)
The Main Indian Paths And Migration Trails In Pennsylvania
Westmar Tours
PA's Heritage Regions


234 Balsinger Road
Village of Balsinger
Uniontown, Pa 15401

Bill and Nancy Ross
Inn Keepers



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