CUMBERLAND ROAD SURVEY AUTHORIZED 210 YEARS AGO
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Two centuries and ten years ago today, March 29, 1806, the Congress of the United States authorized a survey for the construction of the Cumberland Road. It was also known as the National Road or the National Pike.
According to History Magazine, Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky was the "main force" behind the road, but it was President Thomas Jefferson who authorized construction. It was to be the first major improved highway built by the federal government.
The proposed national road would begin in Cumberland, Maryland. pass through the Appalachian Mountains and terminate in Wheeling, Virginia.
The right of way was 66 feet wide while the road itself was 20 feet wide and covered with a foot and a half of crushed stone.
The survey would be conducted by the Army's Corps of Engineers which was also responsible for construction of the road. That construction began in 1811 and was competed in 1818. By 1841, the road stretched from Baltimore to Vandalia, Illinois.
The original plan was for the National Road to connect Baltimore and St. Louis, but the success of the railroad changed things appreciably. Today the start of the National Road is marked by a monument at Riverside Park in Cumberland, Maryland and the original Cumberland Road followed a similar path of today's Route 40.
"The National Road," www.history-magazine.com/