The National Road, today called U.S. Route 40, was the first highway built entirely with federal funds. The road was authorized by Congress in 1806 during the Jefferson Administration. Construction began in Cumberland, Maryland in 1811. The route closely paralleled the military road opened by George Washington and General Braddock in 1754-55.
By 1818 the road had been completed to the Ohio River at Wheeling, which was then in Virginia. Eventually the road was pushed through central Ohio and Indiana reaching Vandalia, Illinois in the 1830's where construction ceased due to a lack of funds. The National Road opened the Ohio River Valley and the Midwest for settlement and commerce.
From wiki "The National Road (Cumberland Road) was the first major improved highway in the United States to be built by the federal government. The approximately 620-mile (1,000 km) long National Road provided a connection between the Potomac and Ohio Rivers and a gateway to the West for thousands of settlers."
Over its venerable history, the road has gone by various names... The Cumberland Road, The National Turnpike, The National Road, The National Highway and US Route 40, to name but a few. The original Road has been "realigned" and "redirected" in some places over the years, fueled by our need for speedy automobile travel, but, for the most part, the old road lives on.
The history of the Road itself, the planning, construction and politics has been well documented over the last 200 years. The grand purpose of the Cumberland Road Project, instead, is to document the history of the people, families, businesses, towns and cities that grew alongside. What I hope will evolve is cloth woven of personal and family histories, stories of towns, cities and businesses prospering and, sometimes, fading away and observations of travelers, both past and present, of life along the road.
I invite you to share your family histories, information, photographs, references and observations. Your contributions will enhance our collective knowledge of a most important part of America's past.
~ Steve Colby, Cumberland, MD (I am sending Steve an email to perhaps include some of these photos which need location identification support
They posted this low res photo with the ID from ""S" bridge west of Hendrysburg, OH."
Noah Elwood Weaver took this close up of the S Bridge West of Hendrysburg, OH, likely in 1928 as is is posted on page 89 of his travel album I am scanning here in 2014.
From page 43 Ohio National Road Travelers Guide Copyright 2010 by the Ohio National Road Association, Inc. "S Stands for Bridge S-bridges are a unique feature of the National Road. Folklore abounds as to why they were built. One story suggests the s-shape forced drivers to slow their horses, reducing the chance of accidents. Some said the bridges were originally built around huge trees, while others claimed they were the result of inebriat- ed bridge builders. However, there is a logical explanation for Ohio’s crooked bridges. The National Road seldom encountered streams and rivers at a direct 90-degree angle. In order for bridges to be constructed so as to cross these bodies of water at 90 degrees while maintaining the direction and location of the Road, an S-shaped design was select- ed as the solution. The S-shape easily accommodated slow-moving droves of animals and horse and oxen-drawn wag- ons, but with the advent of higher-speed automobile traffic they became a hazard. Most were soon bypassed, although at least one — near Hendrysburg — was straightened in 1933 and continued in use for several more years."
Below "Tom"'s son and wife at the opening to a mine with tracks. Page 88 of the Album.