What Was the First Federal Highway Built In the United States and Why Was the National Road Important?

The first federal highway had several names: the National Road, the Cumberland Road, and the National Pike.

It was begun in 1811 in Cumberland, Maryland, and by 1841 it ran almost 800 miles, to Vandalia, Illinois.

This road was important because it provided a route over the Allegheny Mountains and linked the Potomac and Ohio Rivers.

It was quite a road for its day, at 20 feet (6 m) wide and covered with 18 inches (46 cm) of crushed stone.

Today, U.S. Route 40, not to be confused with Interstate 40, closely follows the original road.