Granstville's Main Street, designated today as Alt. Route 40, was once part of the National Road, the country's first federally funded highway. Visit our Town Park to learn more about the history of the National Road.
Traffic on the National Road increased steadily as Americans traveled west. The road became crowded with horse-drawn stagecoaches, Conestoga wagons, freighters, and men on horseback. In addition to people travelling west, there were goods and livestock travelling east to market. Droves of sheep, cattle, hogs, horses, mules and turkeys were interspersed with the stagecoaches and wagons. Mail and slaves were also moved along the road.
The busiest years were from 1843 until 1852 when passengers transferred from trains in Cumberland to stagecoaches bound for the west. At that time, up to 14 stagecoaches a day traveled in each direction. Pulled by 4 to 6 horses, each coach carried about a dozen passengers. They traveled an average of 8 miles per hour, stopping to change horses as needed. The National Road had a reputation for offering the best in food, lodging and stagecoaches.
Constant usage caused the graveled road surface to deteriorate, and ongoing repairs were needed. Traveling conditions could be unpleasant due to weather - the cold and snow were hazardous, rain caused mud and washouts, and there was dust during dry spells. The smell of animals was ever present. Delays could mean that a stagecoach would omit scheduled stops for food or lodging in order to make up for lost time.
Inns sprang up along nearly every mile of the National Road to accommodate weary travelers. Some catered to the more affluent stagecoach passengers. Some served the freight wagon drivers. Still others served the drovers—those men who herded the animals that were being moved to market.
After the railroad crossed the mountains of Western Maryland, traffic on the National Road decreased, as travelers opted for the faster and more convenient rail service.