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Archer Butler Hulbert

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Archer Butler Hulbert

The Cumberland Road

Published by Good Press, 2019
EAN 4064066140311

Table of Contents

ILLUSTRATIONS
PREFACE
The Cumberland Road
CHAPTER I
OUR FIRST NATIONAL ROAD
CHAPTER II
BUILDING THE ROAD IN THE WEST
CHAPTER III
OPERATION AND CONTROL
CHAPTER IV
STAGECOACHES AND FREIGHTERS
CHAPTER V
MAILS AND MAIL LINES
CHAPTER VI
TAVERNS AND TAVERN LIFE
CHAPTER VII
CONCLUSION
Appendixes
APPENDIX A
APPROPRIATIONS BY CONGRESS AT VARIOUS TIMES FOR MAKING, REPAIRING, AND CONTINUING THE ROAD
APPENDIX B
SPECIMEN ADVERTISEMENT FOR BIDS FOR REPAIRING CUMBERLAND ROAD IN OHIO (1838)
APPENDIX C
ADVERTISEMENT FOR PROPOSALS FOR BUILDING A CUMBERLAND ROAD BRIDGE AND FOR TOLL HOUSES IN OHIO—1837
APPENDIX D
ADVERTISEMENT OF CUMBERLAND ROAD TAVERN IN OHIO—1837

ILLUSTRATIONS

Table of Contents
I.Bridge at “Big Crossings”FrontispieceII.Map of Cumberland Road in Pennsylvania and Maryland55III.Chestnut Ridge, Pennsylvania65IV.Map of Cumberland Road in the West79V.A Culvert on the Cumberland Road in Ohio177

PREFACE

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For material used in this volume the author is largely in the debt of the librarians of the State Libraries of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. From the Honorable C. B. Galbreath, of the Ohio State Library, he has received much assistance covering an extended period. To the late Thomas B. Searight’s valuable collection of biographical and colloquial sketches, The Old Pike, the author wishes to express his great indebtedness. As Mr. Searight gave special attention to the road in Pennsylvania, the present monograph deals at large with the story of the road west of the Ohio River, especially in the state of Ohio.

The Cumberland Road was best known in some parts as the “United States” or “National” Road. Its legal name has been selected as the most appropriate for the present monograph which is revised from a study of the subject The Old National Road formerly published by the Ohio State Archæological and Historical Society.

A. B. H.

Marietta, Ohio, May 15, 1903.

The Cumberland Road

Table of Contents

It is a monument of a past age; but like all other monuments, it is interesting as well as venerable. It carried thousands of population and millions of wealth into the West; and more than any other material structure in the land, served to harmonize and strengthen, if not to save, the Union.—Veech.

CHAPTER I

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OUR FIRST NATIONAL ROAD

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The middle ages had their wars and agonies, but also their intense delights. Their gold was dashed with blood, but ours is sprinkled with dust. Their life was intermingled with white and purple; ours is one seamless stuff of brown.—Ruskin.

A person cannot live in the American Central West and be acquainted with the generation which greets the new century with feeble hand and dimmed eye, without realizing that there has been a time which, compared with today, seems as the Middle Ages did to the England for which Ruskin wrote—when “life was intermingled with white and purple.”

This western boy, born to a feeble republic-mother, with exceeding suffering in those days which “tried men’s souls,” grew up as all boys grow up. For a long and doubtful period the young West grew slowly and changed appearance gradually. Then, suddenly, it started from its slumbering, and, in two decades, could hardly have been recognized as the infant which, in 1787, looked forward to a precarious and doubtful future. The boy has grown into the man in the century, but the changes of the last half century are not, perhaps, so marked as those of the first, when a wilderness was suddenly transformed into a number of imperial commonwealths.

When this West was in its teens and began suddenly outstripping itself, to the marvel of the world, one of the momentous factors in its progress was the building of a great national road, from the Potomac River to the Mississippi River, by the United States Government—a highway seven hundred miles in length, at a cost of seven millions of treasure. This ribbon of road, winding its way through Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, toward the Mississippi, was one of the most important steps in that movement of national expansion which followed the conquest of the West. It is probably impossible for us to realize fully what it meant to this West when that vanguard of surveyors came down the western slopes of the Alleghenies, hewing a thoroughfare which should, in one generation, bind distant and half-acquainted states together in bonds of common interest, sympathy, and ambition. Until that day, travelers spoke of “going into” and “coming out of” the West as though it were a Mammoth Cave. Such were the herculean difficulties of travel that it was commonly said, despite the dangers of life in the unconquered land, if pioneers could live to get into the West, nothing could, thereafter, daunt them. The growth and prosperity of the West was impossible, until the dawning of such convictions as those which made the Cumberland Road a reality.

The history of this famed road is but a continuation of the story of the Washington and Braddock roads, through Great Meadows from the Potomac to the Ohio. As outlined in Volumes III and IV of this series, this national highway was the realization of the youth Washington’s early dream—a dream that was, throughout his life, a dominant force.

But Braddock’s Road was for three score years the only route westward through southwestern Pennsylvania, and it grew worse and worse with each year’s travel. Indeed, the more northerly route, marked out in part by General Forbes in 1758, was plainly the preferable road for travelers to Pittsburg until the building of the Cumberland Road, 1811–1818.

The rapid peopling of the state of Ohio, and the promise of an equal development in Indiana and Illinois caused the building of our first and only great national road. Congress passed an act on the thirtieth of April, 1802, enabling the people of Ohio to form a state government and seek admission into the Union. Section seven contained the following provision:

“That one-twentieth of the net proceeds of the lands lying within said State sold by Congress shall be applied to the laying out and making public roads leading from the navigable waters emptying into the Atlantic, to the Ohio, to the said state, and through the same, such roads to be laid out under the authority of Congress, with the consent of the several states through which the roads shall pass.”[1]

On the third of March, 1803 another act was passed which appropriated three of the five per cent to laying out roads in the state of Ohio, the remaining two per cent to be devoted to building a road from navigable waters leading into the Atlantic Ocean, to the Ohio River contiguous to the state of Ohio. A committee was appointed to review the matter and the conclusion of their report to the Senate on the nineteenth of December, 1805 was as follows:

“Therefore the committee have thought it expedient to recommend the laying out and making a road from Cumberland, on the northerly bank of the Potomac, and within the state of Maryland, to the Ohio river, at the most convenient place on the easterly bank of said river, opposite to Steubenville, and the mouth of Grave Creek, which empties into said river, Ohio, a little below Wheeling in Virginia, This route will meet and accommodate roads from Baltimore and the District of Columbia; it will cross the Monongahela at or near Brownsville, sometimes called Redstone, where the advantage of boating can be taken; and from the point where it will probably intersect the river Ohio, there are now roads, or they can easily be made over feasible and proper ground, to and through the principal population of the state of Ohio.”[2]

Immediately the following act of Congress was passed, authorizing the laying out and making of the Cumberland Road:

AN ACT TO REGULATE THE LAYING OUT AND MAKING A ROAD FROM CUMBERLAND, IN THE STATE OF MARYLAND, TO THE STATE OF OHIO

Section 1.Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President of the United States be, and he is hereby authorized to appoint, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, three discreet and disinterested citizens of the United States, to lay out a road from Cumberland, or a point on the northern bank of the river Potomac, in the state of Maryland, between Cumberland and the place where the main road leading from Gwynn’s to Winchester, in Virginia, crosses the river, to the state of Ohio; whose duty it shall be, as soon as may be, after their appointment, to repair to Cumberland aforesaid, and view the ground, from the points on the river Potomac hereinbefore designated to the river Ohio; and to lay out in such direction as they shall judge, under all circumstances the most proper, a road from thence to the river Ohio, to strike the same at the most convenient place, between a point on its eastern bank, opposite to the northern boundary of Steubenville, in said state of Ohio, and the mouth of Grave Creek, which empties into the said river a little below Wheeling, in Virginia.

Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That the aforesaid road shall be laid out four rods in width, and designated on each side by a plain and distinguishable mark on a tree, or by the erection of a stake or monument sufficiently conspicuous, in every quarter of a mile of the distance at least, where the road pursues a straight course so far or further, and on each side, at every point where an angle occurs in its course.

Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That the commissioners shall, as soon as may be, after they have laid out said road, as aforesaid, present to the President an accurate plan of the same, with its several courses and distances, accompanied by a written report of their proceedings, describing the marks and monuments by which the road is designated, and the face of the country over which it passes, and pointing out the particular parts which they shall judge require the most and immediate attention and amelioration, and the probable expense of making the same possible in the most difficult parts, and through the whole distance; designating the state or states through which said road has been laid out, and the length of the several parts which are laid out on new ground, as well as the length of those parts laid out on the road now traveled. Which report the President is hereby authorized to accept or reject, in the whole or in part. If he accepts, he is hereby further authorized and requested to pursue such measures, as in his opinion shall be proper, to obtain consent for making the road, of the state or states through which the same has been laid out. Which consent being obtained, he is further authorized to take prompt and effectual measures to cause said road to be made through the whole distance, or in any part or parts of the same as he shall judge most conducive to the public good, having reference to the sum appropriated for the purpose.

Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That all parts of the road which the President shall direct to be made, in case the trees are standing, shall be cleared the whole width of four rods; and the road shall be raised in the middle of the carriage-way with stone, earth, or gravel or sand, or a combination of some or all of them, leaving or making, as the case may be, a ditch or water course on each side and contiguous to said carriage-way, and in no instance shall there be an elevation in said road, when finished, greater than an angle of five degrees with the horizon. But the manner of making said road, in every other particular, is left to the direction of the President.

Sec. 5. And be it further enacted, That said commissioners shall each receive four dollars per day, while employed as aforesaid, in full for their compensation, including all expenses. And they are hereby authorized to employ one surveyor, two chainmen and one marker, for whose faithfulness and accuracy they, the said commissioners, shall be responsible, to attend them in laying out said road, who shall receive in full satisfaction for their wages, including all expenses, the surveyor, three dollars per day, and each chainman and marker, one dollar per day, while they shall be employed in said business, of which fact a certificate signed by said commissioners shall be deemed sufficient evidence.

Sec. 6. And be it further enacted, That the sum of thirty thousand dollars be, and the same is hereby appropriated, to defray the expenses of laying out and making said road. And the President is hereby authorized to draw, from time to time, on the treasury for such parts, or at any one time, for the whole of said sum, as he shall judge the service requires. Which sum of thirty thousand dollars shall be paid, first, out of the fund of two per cent reserved for laying out and making roads to the state of Ohio, and by virtue of the seventh section of an act passed on the thirtieth day of April, one thousand eight hundred and two, entitled, “An act to enable the people of the eastern division of the territory northwest of the river Ohio to form a constitution and state government, and for the admission of such state into the Union on an equal footing with the original states, and for other purposes.” Three per cent of the appropriation contained in said seventh section being directed by a subsequent law to the laying out, opening, and making roads within the said state of Ohio; and secondly, out of any money in the treasury not otherwise appropriated, chargeable upon, and reimbursable at the treasury by said fund of two per cent as the same shall accrue.

Sec. 7. And be it further enacted, That the President be, and he is hereby requested, to cause to be laid before Congress, as soon as convenience will permit, after the commencement of each session, a statement of the proceedings under this act, that Congress may be enabled to adopt such further measures as may from time to time be proper under existing circumstances.