Historic National Road – IL


  • DesignationAll-American Road (2000/2002)
  • Intrinsic QualitiesCultural, Historic
  • LocationIL, IN, MD, PA, WV
  • Length164 of 824 total miles
Byway Visitor Information
National Road Association of Illinois
Statewide Byway Partners
Illinois Department of Transportation
Illinois Office of Tourism
A classic car goes for a drive on the National Road.
William Eccles Photo


The National Road (also known as the Cumberland Road) was the first major improved highway in the U.S. built by the federal government between 1811 and 1837. The 620-mile road connected the Potomac and Ohio Rivers and was a main transport path West for thousands of settlers.

Local Byway Partners

Story of the Byway

Known for their collection of record-holding sized sculptures of average objects — like the giant ketchup bottle — the towns along the Historic National Road in Illinois are alive with character and charm of small-town USA. The historically important byway was the first federally funded road in US history and opened Illinois up to westward-bound settlers. Today, the route is teeming with small towns that draw visitors with their festivals, food, and quintessential American roadside attractions.

Driving Directions

Mirrored by US Route 40 and Interstate 70, the Illinois Historic National Road traverses 164 miles from Marshall at the Indiana border to the Mississippi River in East St. Louis. The route encompasses seven counties — Clark, Cumberland, Effingham, Fayette, Bond, Madison, and St. Clair, and provides an immersive way to experience a cross-Illinois excursion.

Points of Interest

  • Casey, IL

    A southeast Illinois town housing eight objects recognized by Guinness World Records and a bunch of other oversize items — all of them interactive.

  • Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site

    Remains of the largest prehistoric city in North America are preserved at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site

  • Teutopolis Monastery Museum

    The Teutopolis Monastery Museum, housed within the monastery that was once home to Franciscan Friars in the 19th century, features religious artifacts from the friars depicting the pioneer era in the German Catholic community.


  • A Delightful Cross-State Road Trip

    Starting from Marshall, heading westward along the Historic National Road, enjoy this cross-state drive full of character and unassuming delightful roadside attractions. Marshall is home to the oldest house in the state of Illinois. Start your drive at the welcome center in the historic Harlan Hall. Next, continuing west along the byway, stop in Casey, IL for its must-see, record-holding collection of giant things such as windchimes, rocking chair, mailbox, and golf tee. Continuing westward, you’ll drive through quaint Greenup, IL and its beautiful Jackson Truss covered timber bridge. Proceeding west across the state, Teutopolis and Effingham, IL house historic monasteries, museums, and a giant 198-foot cross for additional stops. Vandalia and then Greenville, IL are steeped in National Road history and contain historic buildings with ties to Abraham Lincoln and the Underground Railroad. Finally, continuing west towards, Collinsville and Cahokia Mounds, you will have reached the western boarder of Illinois and the largest pre-historic site north of Mexico, a remarkable way to conclude your cross-state tour.

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