Ready for a road trip that you’ll talk about for years? RV travelers who haven’t yet discovered The Historic National Road will want to take notice. We’ve got the details you’ll need to travel the highway that spurred America’s Western Expansion, and has intrigued RV camping fans ever since.
Planning RV Travel on the National Road
Where to go and what to see? Those are questions any wise traveler asks while planning a trip, and we can help with the answers. The Historic National Road stretches east to west from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor to Eads Bridge on the Mississippi River at St. Louis.
The first road built with federal highway funds (from 1811 to 1837), this route rolls across six states – Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois – for more than eight hundred miles, now primarily part of US-40.
Once the road west for thousands of settlers, entrepreneurs and adventure seekers, there’s no reason intrepid RV travelers can’t capture that same sense of adventure and set out along the National Road to discover America.
As you go, plan to explore historic sites in each state to gain more understanding of this highway’s significance. Here are just a few of the places you’ll want to discover:
- The Red Brick Tavern in Lafayette, Ohio began serving the stagecoach trade on the National Road in 1837 and still serves patrons today. By the way, stagecoaches and Conestoga wagon were the primary modes of transportation on the way West. Quite a difference from today’s luxurious recreational vehicles!
- National Road Corridor Historic District in Wheeling, West Virginia is worthy of an extended visit, thanks to the many beautifully restored structures on the National Register of Historic Places. From the Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum to the stunning nineteenth century mansions throughout the district, 1830s atmosphere is everywhere. Don’t miss the Wheeling Suspension Bridge!
- Fort Necessity National Battlefield in Uniontown, PA dates back to the French and Indian Wars and is also home to Mount Washington Tavern, another popular stopping-off place along the National Road in the 1830s and 1840s. The tavern now serves as a museum.
- Casselman River Bridge State Park in Grantsville, Maryland features an eighty-foot single span stone bridge built in 1813 as part of the earliest construction on the National Road. The park attracts history and architecture buffs, as well as fly fishermen who enjoy the sport along the Casselman River.
- Huddleston Farmhouse, Indiana, is located sixty miles east of Indianapolis on the National Road. In the 1840s, this family farm served as a way station for thousands of travelers coming and going from the Western frontier.
We’ve shared just a small sampling of the places RVers can explore as they trek the Historic National Road from Maryland to Illinois. Use the Road’s official site to expand your own excursion.
The Historic National Road—the highway that made travel to the American West a reality. For today’s intrepid RV travelers, it’s a road trip filled with memories. You’re sure to come home with a deep appreciation for the folks who set the stage for the journeys that built America.