History of the National Road In Ohio
The National Road, also known as the Cumberland Road, was the first major highway built by the federal government in the United States. It played a crucial role in the westward expansion and development of the country. The portion of the National Road in eastern Ohio is a significant part of this historic roadway.
Early 19th Century:
- 1806: President Thomas Jefferson signed the Cumberland Road Bill, authorizing the construction of a road connecting the Potomac River to the Ohio River to facilitate trade and transportation to the western territories.
- 1811: Construction began in Cumberland, Maryland, under the direction of surveyor and architect Major Ebenezer Zane.
- 1825: The road reached Wheeling, Virginia (now West Virginia), providing a vital transportation link to the Ohio River.
The National Road Reaches Ohio:
- 1828: The National Road reached Bridgeport, Ohio, making it the first federally funded highway to cross the Appalachian Mountains, marking a significant milestone in American infrastructure.
- 1833: The road was extended further westward through Ohio, reaching Zanesville. The National Road was a crucial conduit for settlers, traders, and travelers moving westward, contributing to the economic and social growth of the region.
Impact on Ohio and the Midwest:
- Economic Development: The National Road facilitated the movement of goods and people, promoting economic growth and development in the Ohio Valley and the Midwest. Towns and settlements along the road prospered due to increased trade and commerce.
- Migration and Settlement: The National Road encouraged migration and settlement in the Ohio Territory and the broader Midwest. It offered a reliable route for pioneers heading to the fertile lands of the Northwest Territory.
- Cultural Exchange: The National Road facilitated cultural exchange as it connected different regions and allowed people from diverse backgrounds to interact, share ideas, and contribute to the rich tapestry of American society.
Decline and Legacy:
- The advent of railroads and other forms of transportation gradually led to the decline of the National Road’s significance as the primary mode of long-distance travel and freight transportation.
- However, the legacy of the National Road remains integral to American history and transportation. Many parts of the original road are still in use today, preserving its historical significance and serving as a reminder of its role in the westward expansion of the United States.
The National Road in eastern Ohio remains an essential part of this historic route, showcasing the early ambitions and engineering feats of a growing nation.
Other Key Notable Facts on National Road In Ohio :
The National Road in Ohio has a rich history and several notable facts associated with it:
- Historical Significance: The National Road, authorized by the federal government in 1806, was the first major improved highway in the United States. It served as a critical route for westward expansion and played a crucial role in the development of the Midwest.
- Ohio’s Section: Ohio was an essential part of the National Road, as the road traversed the state from its eastern border with Pennsylvania to the western border with Indiana.
- Historic National Road Zane Grey Museum: Located in Norwich, Ohio, this museum is dedicated to the life and works of the famous American author Zane Grey. It provides insights into the history of the National Road and its importance in the region.
- S-Bridge in Zanesville: One of the most famous landmarks along the National Road in Ohio is the S-Bridge in Zanesville. This historic stone bridge is a prime example of early 19th-century bridge engineering.
- Historic Inns and Taverns: The National Road was lined with motels, inns, taverns, and stagecoach stops that provided accommodation and refreshment for travelers. Some of these historic structures have been preserved and serve as museums and restaurants.
- National Road and Zane’s Trace: In Ohio, the National Road and Zane’s Trace often overlapped. Zane’s Trace was a trail blazed by Colonel Ebenezer Zane in the late 1700s and later became part of the National Road route.
- Historic Towns: As the National Road passed through Ohio, it connected various historic towns, including Zanesville, Newark, Columbus, Springfield, and Dayton. These towns have retained their historical charm and significance.
- Transportation Evolution: The National Road has witnessed the evolution of transportation in the United States, from horse-drawn carriages and stagecoaches to the early days of the automobile. This evolution is reflected in the road’s design and infrastructure.
- National Road and the State Capitol: The National Road passed through Columbus, Ohio’s state capital. The road’s connection to the state government further emphasized its significance in Ohio’s history.
- Historic Marker Program: Ohio has a Historic National Road Marker Program that highlights significant points of interest and historical markers along the route. These markers provide context and information about the road’s history.
- Tourism and Scenic Byway: Today, the National Road in Ohio is a designated National Scenic Byway, attracting tourists interested in exploring its historical and scenic aspects.
The National Road in Ohio played a vital role in the westward expansion of the United States and is rich in historical significance. Travelers can explore this historic route and discover its legacy in the state’s historical landmarks, museums, and communities.