US-40 National Road Long-Cut (Wheeling to Hagerstown)
Interesting stops along US-40 from Wheeling to Hagerstown
One of the last construction projects associated with the National Road, Wheeling Suspension Bridge opened on November 15th, 1849. At that time, this was the only bridge across the Ohio River and the largest suspension bridge in the world. The bridge was designed by Charles Ellet Jr. and covers 1,010 feet from tower to tower. The east tower rests on the Wheeling shore, while the west tower is on Wheeling Island. The bridge provided a link between two sections of the National Road before the Civil War and while it only retained the title of the world's largest suspension bridge for two years, today it is the oldest suspension bridge approved for vehicular traffic. Given its importance to transportation, and its significance as a mid-19th-century engineering marvel, the bridge was designated a National Historic Landmark on May 15, 1975.
Fort Henry, first named Fort Fincastle, was built out of necessity; it was not built with specific plans or designs, but was built like one of the many forts in the area to protect settlers in the 1770s. In the Spring of 1774, military authorities at Fort Pitt (now Pittsburgh, PA) wrote residents telling them they needed to build a fort to protect themselves. Settlers Ebenezer Zane and John Caldwell began the fort and completed it with the help of Captain William Crawford, Colonel Angus McDonald, and 400 militia and regulars from Fort Pitt. The fort was finished in the summer of 1774, in time for the beginning of Dunmore's War.
The Mingo statue was built in 1928 to honor the Mingos, a group of Native Americans who inhabited the Ohio River Valley in the Wheeling area until the early 1800s. The statue welcomes visitors traveling over Wheeling Hill and represents the Native American history of the area. The Native American figure in the statue stretches his right hand out to greet travelers.
Samuel McCulloch and his family moved from New Jersey to the area that is now Wheeling, WV in 1770. He went on to become the commander of Van Meter’s Fort, a member of the Virginia Legislature, and a major in the local militia. McCulloch rushed to help Fort Henry when it was under attack on September 2nd, 1777, but was cut off by Native Americans. To escape the Native Americans, it is said that McCulloch and his horse leaped from the ledge on the top of Wheeling Hill, and survived.
Constructed in 1917 to house sisters of the Order of the Discalced Carmelites, Mount Carmel Monastery was named in honor of the order’s founder, St. Teresa of Avila. The monastery's Spanish style architecture recalls the origins of the order and is a unique structure in Wheeling. The founding of the monastery reflected the growth of the Catholic community in Wheeling in the early 20th century. At the height of the monastery's time in Wheeling, the sisters were isolated and had almost no contact with the outside world aside from a newsletter and selling handmade products. The monastery was in operation until 1974, when the last residents moved to another monastery and the building was sold to a real estate developer. Though the structure is now a crumbling apartment building, it was once the iconic home to the extremely secluded Carmelite Sisters.
Born in Wheeling in 1823, Major General Jesse Reno enjoyed a successful military career in the United States Army before his untimely death at the Battle of South Mountain in September 1862. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in the Class of 1846 (alongside fellow western Virginian Thomas J. Jackson). He served with distinction in the Mexican War, twice promoted and wounded once. In command of the Mount Vernon Arsenal near Mobile, Alabama in 1861, he was forced to surrender the facility to Southern militia. He fought both in North Carolina and with the Army of the Potomac in 1862, developing a reputation as a well-liked "soldier's soldier." He was mortally wounded while commanding the 9th Corps at the Battle of South Mountain. A number of towns are named for him, most notably Reno, Nevada. Buried in Washington, D.C., a monument stands at the site of his wounding and a historical marker in Wheeling acknowledges his connection to West Virginia.
Standing ten feet tall, clutching a baby to her breast, and holding a rifle in the opposite hand, Madonna of the Trail is a strikingly resolute monument. A bonnet rests atop the figure’s head and hiking boots cover her feet. A young boy tugs at her skirts. One of twelve Madonna of the Trail statues erected along U.S. Route 40, these monuments are a celebration of and pay tribute to the tenacity of pioneer women and their contribution to American colonialism. The National Society of the Daughters of the Revolution commissioned sculptor August Leimbach to design the statues. This statue located at the edge of Wheeling Park was the second of the twelve created. It was dedicated on July 7, 1928.
The Elm Grove Stone Arch Bridge is a very significant and popular bridge in West Virginia. It is also known as the Monument Place Bridge. It was built in 1817 and is the oldest extant bridge in West Virginia. The bridge connects US Route 40 over Little Wheeling Creek in Elm Grove, part of the construction of the National Road from Cumberland, MD to Wheeling, WV. It is one of two bridges that remain from the National Road and it was was later placed on the National Register for Historic Places in 1981.
This is one of the mile markers originally placed along the National Road in the 1830s. The National Road (now part of U.S. 40) was constructed in the early 1800s to connect Cumberland to Wheeling, and allow for better mobility from the east to western areas in the newly formed United States. Mile markers were placed every mile and the six that remain in their original locations are located between Mt. Echo and Triadelphia. The markers that are still in their original positions are nos. 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, and 14. Four other original markers exist, but have been relocated from their original locations.
In September 1782, British-allied Native Americans besieged Fort Henry (present Wheeling, WV). Unable to break the colonial defenses, a party of 100 Indians moved inland and struck a small party of colonists at Rice's Fort along Dutch Fork Creek just inside the Pennsylvania state line. Consisting of three small connected blockhouses, Fort Rice was successfully defended by six men and their families, who repulsed several Native American assaults throughout September 14-15, 1782. Unable to oust the colonial defenders, the Native Americans retreated and escaped captured. Today, a Pennsylvania state historic marker acknowledges the 1782 fight for Rice's Fort.
This Catholic Church built in Washington County in 1929 to serve the residents. The roots of the Immaculate Conception parish go back to St. James Church in West Alexander in the late 18th century. Priests from Brownsville came by horseback to tend the faithful of West Alexander, Claysville, and Washington, then in 1852, the first resident pastor, Rev. Daniel Hickey was appointed, and then shortly after construction began on the first Immaculate Conception.
One of 12 identical statues depicting white pioneer women migrating along 19th-century western trails. Commissioned by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), they were dedicated in 1928-29 in 12 states stretching from Maryland to California.
Searight's Tollhouse is a brick structure that sits along the National Road (U.S. Route 40). It was used to collect tolls along the road and as the residence for the toll collector. Built in 1835, it remained in service until 1905 and was then abandoned for a time. It has since been restored by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and local historical societies. Period furnishing and fixtures have also been added. The tollhouse is currently administered by the Fayette County Historical Society and open to the public as a period museum. Searight's Tollhouse was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966.
This impromptu palisade was constructed by Colonel George Washington’s forces in 1754 at the start of the French and Indian War. A reconstruction of the fort stands within the 908-acre Fort Necessity National Battlefield in Pennsylvania. There is also a Fort Necessity/National Road Interpretive and Education Center at the site that opened in 2005 and features a 20-minute orientation film entitled "Road of Necessity" and numerous interactive and interpretive exhibits. Additionally, there are 5-miles of hiking trails that meander through the forest and meadows that surround the fort.
The Grantsville Community Museum was opened in 2006 in the former Ruth Enlow Library building; a bank was also located in the building. The museum's mission is to honor and preserve the life and work of local poet and photographer Leo Beachy from 1905-1927. It also features artifacts (and the safe) from the bank, Braddock's Trail, and from the B-52 bomber crash that took place on January 13, 1964. The museum is affiliated with the Garrett County Historical Society.
The Casselman Bridge, also known as the Casselman River Bridge, Old Casselman Bridge, Casselmans Bridge, Castleman's Bridge, and Little Crossings Bridge, is a stone arch bridge that was constructed in 1813-1815 as part of the National Road. The bridge served as a major passageway for westward travelers and frontiersman crossing the Casselman River. It is now preserved by the State of Maryland as a National Historic Landmark.
The Clarysville General Hospital, located just a few miles west of Cumberland, Maryland, treated thousands of sick and wounded soldiers during the Civil War. The site was a working inn serving travelers along the new National Pike roadway at the time it was appropriated for use as a hospital by the army.
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park and Cumberland Visitor Center was created in 1961. Housed in the historic 1913 Western Maryland Railway Station, the Cumberland Visitor Center provides information about the history of the C&O Canal; this center is one of several in the park. Construction of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal was completed in October of 1850. It was 184.5 miles long and connected Washington, D.C. to Cumberland, MD. A flood in 1889 severely damaged the structure causing the C&O company to go bankrupt. It was taken over by the B&O Railroad company who repaired it. The property was once again a success until a second major flood again destroyed it in 1924. It was abandoned until bought by the federal government in 1938.
Folck's Mill was a grist and sawmill located outside of Cumberland, MD. The original structure was an early 19th-century brick building and had three stories; now all that remains is the stone foundations. The mill was the site of The Battle of Folck's Mill in 1864. During the battle, Union troops led by General Benjamin Kelley rerouted Confederate troops as they made their way to Cumberland. Though the battle was a draw, the Confederate soldiers retreated to the Potomac following the battle. There are still signs of damage from the battle on the remaining stones.
The C&O Canal Dam No. 5, also known as the Honeywood Dam, was first constructed in 1835 to impound water to keep the canal filled. A new, sturdier dam was built in 1857 and was attacked by Stonewall Jackson during the Civil War. The power plant began as a flour mill and then a pulp and paper mill before it was turned into a hydroelectricity plant around the turn of the last century. It is still an operating power plant for LS Power.
Dedicated in 2008, this marker talks about the Battle of Falling Waters and how a waterfall impacted it. Right on the edge of the Eastern Panhandle border of West Virginia lies a small town that houses historic and residential homes. Falling Waters was established in 1815. With its location lying between Martinsburg and Hagerstown, Falling Waters has become a residence for many people employed in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. Two Civil War battles were fought in Falling Waters: The Battle of Hoke’s Run and The Battle of Williamsport.
Maidstone on the Potomac is a historical home near Falling Waters, WV that was connected to the operation of the Watkins-Light-Lemen ferry. This property operated as a home for ferrymen since it was originally commissioned by the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1744. As the ferry business became more lucrative, the original log home was replaced in 1762 by the current brick/stone structure. The ferry and home passed ownership several times over the century and experienced many important passages. George Washington crossed here in 1754 to fight at the opening battle of the French and Indian War. During the Civil War, this area would see passage by both Federal and Confederate troops. At the outset of hostilities, Confederate soldiers were brought up to seize the ferry, while camping on the grounds and in the home. Union General Abner Doubleday crossed here in 1861, marking one of the first incursions of Federal forces into Virginia. The Confederate retreat from Gettysburg saw 70,000 Confederate troops pass through and make temporary camp at Maidstone on July 7, 1863. The ferry operated until the construction of the Potomac River bridge in 1895. Sadly, the home is now abandoned and sits in extreme disrepair following a suspicious fire in 2009. The Watkins-Light-Lemen ferry and the Maidstone home played an important role in the transportation of goods, people, and soldiers over two centuries. Maidstone is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it is hoped that one day the house can be restored to its former glory.
The Mason-Dixon Line is usually associated with the division between the northern (free) and southern (slave) states during the 1800s and American Civil War-era, but it was delineated in the mid-1700s to settle a property dispute. The line is named after the two surveyors who mapped it, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon.