America’s First Highway | The National Road, National Geographic: Riding Antique Bicycle Into the Storm

A bicycle enthusiast dresses in clothes of the the 19th century era as he pedals ahead of an Indiana thunderstorm. When the road fell into decline, bicyclists banded together and The League of American Wheelmen was formed in 1880. They demanded potholes to be filled which began a revival of the National Road 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. As the railroad developed, the road’s importance diminished. Bypassed later by the Interstate, many towns began to decline. The road today is a tapestry of different eras–old stone taverns and a few historic remnants from early years.