Top 8 Oldest Roads In The US for Discovery
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Colonial-era European colonies were responsible for constructing the first roads in what would become the United States. These first roads were crucial for the movement of people and goods.
They also served as early mail routes. The first highway in the United States followed paths mapped out by colonists after the country's independence. As a result, it is now possible to drive across the entire United States via a network of interstates and other national highways.
All of these historic routes continue to exist today, often serving as parallels to modern interstates and other major thoroughfares.
8. Lincoln Highway
|Year Established: 1913 |
Location: coast to coast from Times Square in New York City, New York to Lincoln Park in San Francisco, Califronia
Length: 3,389 mi (5,454 km)
A group of auto enthusiasts and business leaders known as the Lincoln Highway Association (LHA) came up with the idea for the Lincoln Highway. Carl Fisher, the leader of the LHA, had a vision for a road that would connect all the states of the union and be open to automobile travel. Fisher dubbed his plan the Coast-to-Coast Rock Highway and intended for the new road to serve as a prototype for all American highway construction going forward.
Fisher persuaded his friends in the auto industry to make $1 million contributions each in order to pay for the highway. Despite Fisher's request, Henry Ford was conspicuously absent from the list of donors because Ford thought that the government should be in charge of building the nation's roads.
The majority of the Lincoln Highway, which was constructed over a number of years, is now a part of U.S. Route 30.
7. The National Road
|Year Established: 1811 |
Location: from Cumberland, Maryland to Vandalia, Illinois (connected the Potomac and Ohio Rivers)
Length: 620-mile (1,000 km)
The National Road was the country's first highway to be built entirely with federal money. Under President Thomas Jefferson, Congress authorized the National Road's construction in 1806. At the time, Maryland served as the country's geographic center. Congress wanted to build a road from Ohio, which served as the country's westernmost point, to Maryland.
The National Road's route mirrored that of the military road (Braddock Road) that George Washington and General Braddock plowed in 1754–1755. The National Road was constructed with durability in mind from the beginning, unlike many early roads, and it was covered in broken stones. The National Road is now a section of US Route 40.
6. Forbes Road
|Year Established: 1758 |
Location: from Carlisle, Pennsylvania to French Fort Duquesne (now downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
Length: about 200 mi (321.87 km)
During the French and Indian War (also known as the Seven Year's War), colonial British forces in Pennsylvania used the Forbes Road as a crucial route. The road bears the name of Brigadier General John Forbes, who oversaw the construction effort. When Forbes Road was finished, it was used to move the British soldiers, supplies, and artillery to the French Fort Duequesne, which is now located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's downtown.
Forbes Road was still in use after the Seven Years' War, facilitating trade and communication between the eastern and western regions of the Pennsylvania colony. Numerous historical markers can be found on current roads like US 22, US 11, and US 522 that mention Forbes Road.
5. Connecticut Route 108 (Farm Highway)
|Year Established: 1696 |
Location: from Huntington, Connecticut to Stratford, Connecticut
Length: 11.05 mi (17.78 km)
Connecticut Route 108's original name, the Farm Highway, was given to its oldest section in 1696. The first road in Trumbull, Connecticut was finished on December 7, 1696.
After Route 108's modern iteration was established in 1932, the road suffered from neglect for a number of years. Route 108 used to only connect the town of Shelton with a stop sign in Huntington village. The road was ultimately extended in 1952, and then given three additional miles in 1963.
4. Boston Post Road
|Year Established: 1673 |
Location: from New York City, New York to Boston, Massachusetts
Length: about 117.37 mi (188.89 km)
The Boston Post Road, which connected Boston and New York City for the first time in 1673, served as the official postal route. When the first postal rider was dispatched on the Boston Post Road in 1645, John Winthrop Jr., the governor's son and successor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, first mapped out the route. The Native American trails in the area served as the inspiration for Winthrop's Boston Post Road.
The upper post road, lower post road, and middle route were all carved out by the Boston Post Road over time. These three former Boston Post Road routes are now known as I-95, I-91, and I-94.
3. Connecticut Route 32 (Mohegan Road)
|Year Established: 1670 |
Location: from New London, Connecticut to the Massachusetts state line
Length: 54.88 mi (88.32 km)
Mohegan Road, now known as Connecticut Route 32, was initially constructed in 1670. For more than a century prior to this, the road served as a Native American trail. The original Mohegan Road ran along the east bank of the Thames River between New London and Norwich, Connecticut. The Mohegan Road was modernized in 1792 and became the second turnpike ever constructed in the United States as well as the first in New England.
The route's current number, Route 32, was given to it during the New England Interstate Era. Route 32 retained its numbering even after Connecticut ceased to use the New England Interstate route.
2. Albany Post Road
|Year Established: c.1669 |
Location: from New York City, New York to Albany, New York along the east side of the Hudson River
Length: Unspecified; remaining section of road is 6.6 mi (10.6 km)
When Dutch colonists in New Amsterdam (New York) built a post road based on Native American trails used by the Wappinger/Wicopee tribes, the Albany Post Road was formally established in 1669. The postal road became a public highway in 1703 after the Provincial Legislature passed the "Publick Highways" Act. The colonists chose Queen Anne as the inspiration for the road's name.
The majority of Albany Post Road has been renamed and modernized, but there is still a 6-mile section of the original, unpaved road. The Old Albany Post Road, also known as the historic section of the road, was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
1. King’s Highway
|Year Established: from 1650 to 1735 |
Location: from Charleston, South Carolina to Boston, Massachusetts
Length: 1,300 mi (2,100 km)
The King's Highway is the oldest road in America because it was constructed between 1650 and 1735, decades before the United States became a nation. The route, which connected Charleston, South Carolina, and Boston, Massachusetts, was 1,300 miles (2,100 km) long. The King's Highway, which served as the primary means of transportation for the colonies, was the most significant road in colonial America.
Today's roads and highways have paved over the majority of the original King's Highway. The National Register of Historic Places includes a number of significant historical sites that once stood along the King's Highway and are still standing today. A documentary movie about the King's Highway and many of its landmarks was produced a few years ago.
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