On the Road Again The National Road Comes to Y-Town
ur nations’ first federally funded highway is celebrating its bicentennial, and you’re invited to the party.
The National Road: Helping Build America is a traveling exhibit whose next stop is the Youngstown Historical Center of Labor & Industry where it sill be on display April 7 through June 28, 2009.
Put together by the Ohio Historical Society and partially funded by a grant from the Ohio Humanities Council, this exhibit honors Congress’ authorizing the construction of the National Road also known as the Cumberland Road, the National Pike, “The Main Street of America” and U.S. 40.
The National Road was the first compact gravel road to cross the Appalachian Mountains making it so travel through this area was more doable.
With the construction of The National Road, settling the frontier became a reality.
Though Congress gave the okay to begin the construction of the road in 1806, and contracts with private builders were in place by 1811, the War of 1812 held the project in limbo until 1815.
At this time, work on the road began in Cumberland, Maryland with the first portion to Wheeling, Virginia (now West Virginia) being completed in 1817.
The road eventually extended to St. Louis, Missouri. It is interesting to note that the Ohio portion of the 620-mile National Road is more than 225 miles long and traverses through 10 different Ohio counties.
The history of The National Road shows Ohio was to become a state in 1803 and congress promised in 1802 to build a road connecting areas east of the Appalachian Mountains to the land that was to become Ohio.
Up until this time, the Nemacolin’s Path, a Native American trail named after the Delaware Indian chief, Neamcolin was the “road” used to help people in the Northwest Territory to cross the Appalachian Mountains.
With the National Road in place, the ability to settle this Ohio frontier was made easier, as was communication between this area and those on the East Coast.
The National Road: Helping Build America relies on wonderful graphics to tell the story of this landmark road through the eyes of a traveler of this era.
Those visiting the exhibit will not only learn how this road came to be, but how it helped with westward expansion, and how it continues today as a travel destination.
Such is its importance to the development of the United States during the 19th and early 20th centuries; in 2002 the United States Department of Transportation designated this byway an “All-American Road” in the “National Scenic Byway System.”
The exhibit has been on display appearing at venues along Route 40 since 2007 and is now making its way to other Ohio Historical Society stops in 2009 so more may learn about this important Ohio landmark.
The Youngstown Historical Center of Labor & Industry is open Wednesday through Friday 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday (as well as Memorial Day and Labor Day)- noon to 4:00 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults; $3 for children 6-12 and children under 5 are free.
Call 1-800-262-6137 for more information.
The Youngstown Historical Center is located at 151 W. Wood Street in Youngstown, Mahoning County. Wood Street is located between Wick Avenue and Fifth Avenue. It is one block north of downtown and two blocks south of Youngstown State University.