The Road that Built the Nation
". . . so many happy people, restless in the midst of abundance." —Alexis de Tocqueville, 1840.
Americans are an adventurous people. From
past to present, they have used feet, horses,
wagons, stagecoaches, canals, railroads,
bicycles, automobiles, trucks and buses to
"perpetually change their plans and abodes."
Centuries ago, George Washington dreamed of
a highway joining east and west. In 1806,
Thomas Jefferson made that roadway a reality
when he risked his Presidency by authorizing,
"an Act to regulate the laying out and making
[of] a road from Cumberland in the State of
Maryland to the State of Ohio."
The next generation built that "United States
Road," a thirty-foot wide, crushed stone
thoroughfare that spanned rivers, traversed
mountains and opened up America's western
frontier to the Mississippi. Merchants, traders
and families from all over the world journeyed
along this route in their quest to claim land,
expand markets and form new lives.
Today, you can trace that same path along the
Historic National Road. Discover the places,
events and stories that shaped this nation. To
have your own adventure, stop by any Welcome
Center or local visitor center to speak to a travel
counselor and pick up a Historic National Road
Built in the early 1800s, a paved highway west was America's first federal project. Much of the approximately 800 mile long National Road is still marked by historic milestones.
(photo caption) Are we there yet?
These early 20th century travelers speak to all of
us who at one time or another couldn't wait to get
out of the car. Today, we have the luxury of
taking our modern interstates for granted. But
who can't relate to those faces?