National Road

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United States  Gotoarrow.png  Migration  Gotoarrow.png  Trails and Roads  Gotoarrow.png  National Road

The National Road, or Cumberland Road, or National Pike was the first road built by the United States federal government. Construction was authorized in 1806, begun in 1811, at Cumberland, Maryland, and stopped at Vandalia, Illinois in 1839, a distance of about 620 miles (1,000 km).[1]

It crossed the Appalachian (Allegheny) Mountains and connected the Potomac River and Ohio River. It became one of the important routes west through the mountains to the old Northwest, and from there to the Midwestern United States.

As roads developed in America settlers were attracted to nearby communities because the roads provided access to markets. They could sell their products at distant markets, and buy products made far away. If an ancestor settled near a road, you may be able to trace back to a place of origin on a connecting highway.

Historical Background

The National Road was an early example of a macadamized highway in the United States. Parts of the National Road followed parts of routes of the older Braddock's Road and Zane's Trace.


(East to West)[1]

  • Baltimore, Maryland (in later years)
  • Cumberland, Maryland
  • Wheeling, (West) Virginia
  • Zanesville, Ohio
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Terre Haute, Indiana
  • Vandalia, Illinois
  • St. Louis, Missouri (in later years)
  • Jefferson City, Missouri (in later years)

Settlers and Records

No lists of settlers who used the National Road are known to exist.

In general people who used the Nationl Road were from more Eastern states, especially Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virgina, West Virginia, and Ohio. They were most likely to have settled along the road or on various spurs in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, or in Midwestern states like Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, or Missouri.

Wikipedia has more about this subject: National Road

External Links


  1. 1.0 1.1 Wikipedia contributors, "National Road," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed October 4, 2010).