America’s First Highway | The National Road, National Geographic: Scenic Drive in Western Pennsylvania

A car passes through the hilly terrain of a rural section of the National Road in Western Pennsylvania. The aerial shows farm land a few miles east of Scenery Hill. Construction began in Cumberland, MD in 1811 on the National Road, America’s first highway built with federal funds. Reaching Wheeling, West Virginia in 1818, it ended more than 600 miles west in Vandalia, Illinois in 1852. What began as a wagon train road to settle the West is now Main Street to many towns. Communities sprang up through Ohio, Indiana and IL during the beginning of a prosperous automobile era.