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Historic National Road - Pennsylvania

Historic National Road - Pennsylvania
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Description - Long before the National Road was constructed through Pennsylvania, the first battle of the French & Indian War was fought there. At Fort Necessity, 11 miles east of Uniontown, Colonial troops commanded by 22-year-old Colonel George Washington were defeated in the small stockade at the "Great Meadow". The battle began a seven-year struggle between Great Britain and France for control of North America. Great Britain's success in this war helped pave the way for the American Revolution, and George Washington's leadership prepared him for his future role as president of the United States. Today the park comprises approximately 900 acres, including the battlefield with the reconstructed Fort, a visitor center, and Mount Washington Tavern.

Washington recognized the need for a connecting route between the East and West. Emigrants and traders needed a safe route west while farmers and ranchers needed a stable route east to city markets. In 1806 Congress approved a decision to build a national road from Cumberland, Maryland, to what is now Wheeling, West Virginia. (The Road was later extended to Vandalia, Illinois.)

Attractions - Trails used by troops during the French & Indian War were considered as possible permanent routes west. The Pennsylvania National Road was ultimately constructed through the southwest, mountainous corner of Pennsylvania. Today it is celebrated and preserved as a state Heritage Park. Visit the Park to get a sense of the Road's awesome history and its impact on the area. The National Road served as America's Main Street from the early 1800s all through the 1900s. Canal traffic and the railroad diverted travelers in the mid-1800s, but the road saw a second surge in popularity with the advent of the automobile in the early 1900s. Thousands of people traveled the Road and they changed the areas they passed through forever.

A culture grew up around the Road as people settled the area and serviced the needs of other travelers. The Mount Washington Tavern, circa 1828, is a remnant of the Road's early days. Visit the tavern where travelers stayed the night or stopped for a hot meal. Later on in the Road's history, tollhouses sprang up. The individual states established these after the Road and its maintenance was turned over to them. Built in 1835, the Addison or Old Petersburg Tollhouse still stands. It was Gate #1 along the National Road and is the only native-cut stone tollhouse still standing in the United States. Learn more about transportation history at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington. The museum tells the story of the evolution of transportation and the arrival of the trolley to cities and towns along the National Road. The National Road through Pennsylvania houses a treasure box of U.S. history. From the French & Indian War to tollhouses to trolleys, the National Road and associated sites have been preserved for you.

Recreation - Braddock's Grave, PA This marker memorializes the final resting place of British Major General Edward Braddock, leader of an ill-fated expedition to the forks of the Ohio River to try to capture French-held Fort Duquesne.

In an expedition that included George Washington, Braddock was ambushed by French soldiers and Indians as they widened the road to fit their artillery. Massive casualties included General Braddock, and he was buried on the side of the road. His whole troop marched over his grave to eliminate any trace of it and preserve his body from mutilation.

In 1804, workmen found human remains near where Braddock was supposed to be buried, and they moved them to where the current marker stands today.

Coal and Coke Heritage Center, PA The Coal and Coke Heritage Center, a regional history center sponsored by Penn State's Fayette Campus, has several displays of artifacts and information detailing the coal mining history of this region of Pennsylvania. Coal from this region became Coke, a hard substance of nearly pure carbon, that was essential to the steel-making process.

In 1935, the Kaufmann family commissioned famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright to design a home for them. Wright responded by creating one of his most famous works, Fallingwater. Positioned over a mountain stream waterfall, the building emphasizes man's ability to coexist with nature.

Fallingwater is the only great Wright house open to the public in its original setting and complete with its original furnishings and art work. The fine art of the Kaufmann family is also on display, including collections from famous artists such as Tiffany, Picasso, and Lipchitz.

Climate - Pennsylvania has four distinct seasons and recreationists can find good in each one. Summer is usually hot and humid often extending from late May into September. Expect temperatures in the southeastern part of the state to reach 90 degrees F frequently. Temperatures in the Northern and western areas of the state are slightly cooler. Summer lows usually don't dip below 60 degrees F.

Winter temperatures average between 25 degrees and 45 degrees F in southeastern Pennsylvania. The west and mountains receive colder temperatures that average between -10 degrees and 35 degrees F. Spring and fall are excellent times to visit the state as temperatures are mild with little humidity. Spring brings a variety of wildflowers and shrubs into bloom and fall color displays of deciduous trees draw many to the forests of the state.

Location - The Byway begins on the border of Maryland and Pennsylvania, on what is now US-40 Addison, containing the historic Old Petersbug/Addison Tollhouse, is the first major town the Byway passes through. Continuing west on the highway, the Byway will pass Fort Necessity and Braddock's Grave. Further along the highway, continuing in its north-westerly direction, the Byway passes Forbes State Park, and then the towns of Hopwood and Union Town. Another stretch up the highway takes the traveler past the Searights Toll House, the town of Brownsville, and the Flatiron Bridge. The Byway then crosses the Monongahela River and eventually passes through Centerville, Beallsville, and Scenery Hill, and passes by the Madonna of the Trail. As the Byway nears the city of Washington, it intersects with Interstate 79, and then moves on to Washington, at which point the Byway takes a south-westerly direction and intersects Interstate 70. Once out of the city, the Byway passes the S-Bridge, and continues on through Claysville and then West Alexander and the state border with West Virginia, marking the end of the Byway

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More Information

Additional Information:
Pennsylvania Scenic Byways - Pennsylvania has hundreds of miles of scenic byways. Many of the byways fall within State Parks, State Forests, National Parks and the Allegheny National Forest. In addition, there are byways that follow major rivers such as the Delaware Scenic River which divides Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

America's Byways - Americ's National Scenic Byways Official Site


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