Mile Marker M to B 82
N 39° 39.432 W 077° 55.500
18S E 249058 N 4393800
Quick Description: Mile Marker 82 Miles to Baltimore.
Location: Maryland, United States
Date Posted: 3/2/2008 8:49:09 PM
Waymark Code: WM3A0A
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.
During the heyday of the National Road, traffic was heavy throughout the day and into the early evening. Almost every kind of vehicle could be seen on the road. The two most common vehicles were the stagecoach and the Conestoga wagon. Stagecoach travel was designed with speed in mind. Stages would average 60 to 70 miles in one day.
The Conestoga wagon was the "tractor-trailer" of the 19th Century. Conestogas were designed to carry heavy freight both east and west over the Allegheny Mountains. These wagons were brightly painted with red running gears, Prussian blue bodies and white canvas coverings. A Conestoga wagon, pulled by a team of six draft horses, averaged 15 miles a day.
By the early 1850's technology was changing the way people traveled. The steam locomotive was being perfected and soon railroads would cross the Allegheny Mountains. The people of Southwestern Pennsylvania fought strongly to keep the railroad out of the area, knowing the impact it would have on the National Road. In 1852, the Pennsylvania Railroad was completed to Pittsburgh and shortly after, the B & O Railroad reached Wheeling. This spelled doom for the National Road. As the traffic quickly declined, many taverns went out of business.
An article in Harper's Magazine in November 1879 declared, "The national turnpike that led over the Alleghenies from the East to the West is a glory departed...Octogenarians who participated in the traffic will tell an enquirer that never before were there such landlords, such taverns, such dinners, such whiskey...or such an endless calvacades of coaches and wagons." A poet lamented "We hear no more the clanging hoof and the stagecoach rattling by, for the steam king rules the traveled world, and the Old Pike is left to die."
Just as technology caused the National Road to decline, it also led to its revival with the invention of the automobile in the early 20th century. As "motor touring" became a popular pastime the need for improved roads began to grow. Many early wagon and coach roads such as the National Road were revived into smoothly paved automobile roads. The Federal Highway Act of 1921 established a program of federal aid to encourage the states to build "an adequate and connected system of highways, interstate in character." By the mid 1920's the grid system of numbering highways was in place, thus creating US Route 40 out of the ashes of the National Road.
Due to the increased automobile traffic on US Route 40 a whole new network of businesses grew to aid the 20th century traveler. The stage taverns and wagon stands were replaced by hotels, motels, restaurants and diners. The service station replaced the livery stables and blacksmith shops. Some of the National Road era buildings regained new life as restaurants, tourist homes, antique shops and museums. Route 40 served as a major east-west artery until the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 created the interstate system as we know it today. With the opening of the interstates much traffic was diverted away.
Placed along the road in Washington County are stone markers, each with an inscription denoting how many miles to Baltimore, Maryland. Quite a few of these markers still stand as stone sentinels to a bygone era. A few are illegible with newer cement markers buried in the ground next to the old worn markers. Some have been destroyed by automoblile accidents and have been replaced by cement markers where the old one's once stood.
Monumentation Type: other (not included below)
Monumentation Type (if other): Stone
Monument Category: other (not included below)
Monument Category (if other): Mile Marker
Monument Website: [Web Link]
Accessible to general public: Not Listed
Explain Non-Public access: Not listed
Historical significance: Not listed
County: Not listed
USGS Quad: Not listed
NGS PID: Not listed
Other Coordinates: Not Listed
Other Coordinates details: Not listed
Approximate date of monument: Not listed
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