Designed as a military highway, intended to make linkage with United States military road built to the north of the Red River in the 1820s.
This was part of the national effort of Republic of Texas to open a good road system. Congress in 1839 passed a bill for a road east from Washington-on-the-Brazos to the Sabine River; 1841 legislation called for a road from the Nueces to the Red River and another from Austin to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The Central National Road was created in 1844, to reach from mouth of Elm Fork on the Trinity to Kiomatia Crossing on the Red. It went down a main street in Paris, which was founded in 1844; near its south end was the 1841 John Neely Bryan home around which the city of Dallas originated.
Major George W. Stell surveyed the 130-mile route. Plans called for a road 30 feet wide and clear of tree stumps over 12 inches high. For each mile of road built (including bridges), grants of 160 acres of public lands were offered. Commissioners were Roland W. Box, Harrison County; James Bradshaw, Nacogdoches County; William M. Williams and Jason Wilson, Lamar County; John Yeary, Fannin County.
The route is roughly followed by later roads.