CELEBRATING 200 YEARS

There are few things that call to us across time from the beginnings of our Nation. The Historic National Road, this Nation’s first federally funded highway, is one of them. For more than 600 miles, it is the landscape of historic, cultural, and archaeological significance, scenic beauty and bountiful recreations, and a journey that lives through the lives, fortunes and struggles of the people that forged America.

Beginning in Cumberland Maryland, connecting a bank road from Baltimore and crossing six states, it stretches westward past historic landmarks, mountain vistas, industrial towns, rich farmlands and pastures, to reach the Mississippi River and the Eads Bridge in East St. Louis. Conceived by George Washington and brought forward during Jefferson’s presidency by his Secretary of the Treasury, Albert Gallatin, it is a physical translation of ideals of Jeffersonian democracy – a nation of citizens whose values and politics were tied to the land.

Construction began in 1811 on the first leg of the road. Named the Eastern Legacy and achieving the goal of reaching the banks of the Ohio River, the National Road from Cumberland to Wheeling was completed in 1818.

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