The Cumberland Road By: Jordyn Palmer

What is the Cumberland Road?

The Cumberland Road also known as Route 40 is a road that was built in 1811-1817 which consisted of timber, dirt, and rock. It was the first road paid for in the United States which went from east to west. The road stretched from Cumberland, Maryland to the Ohio River. The Cumberland Road stretched 600 miles. Some of the Cumberland Road's nicknames and common names are "The Main Street of America", National Pike, National Road, and National Trail. Taverns were usually beside the road.

Map of the Cumberland Road

Why was the Cumberland Road so important in transportation?

The Cumberland Road was the main route for Northwest Territory which helped settlers for transportation to settlements in the west. The road also helped with the transportation in the Potomac and Ohio Rivers. With the help of the transportation, the Cumberland Road earned the title of "the road that built the nation."

How did the federal government build the road?

Well, the federal government built the road with the signing of Thomas Jefferson of an act. With the act, the federal government started to build the road within 1811 with 10 miles. A couple years later, 1818, the road stopped at Wheeling, Virginia. With the road stopping at Wheeling, Virginia the popularity struck in 1825. The federal government continued with the road and the road stopped at Vandalia.

How come the road was not finished with the hands of the federal government?Did the states finish the road?

In 1840, Congress voted to not finish the road because the railroads were better transportation and there were road less travel. The road was given to the states to finish. The states used it as a highway and took control of Cumberland to Wheeling. After 1840, the states did finish the remains of parts connecting to Vandalia.

One part of the Cumberland Road

Credits:

Created with images by City of Boston Archives - "Huntington Avenue looking south between West Newton and Cumberland Streets [TP025]" • Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the BPL - "The two routes surveyed for the National Road from Springfield to Richmond, 1835 : reduced from the original survey of Captain A. Canfield, U.S. Topographical Engineer, Lieuts. J.E. Johnston & J.W. McCrabb" • dbking - "The National Road (Cumberland Road)" • Eric Fischer - "Map of the Cumberland Road (1920)" • SeeMidTN.com (aka Brent) - "Old Hickory Bridge - Nashville"

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