Historic National Road – PA


  • DesignationAll-American Road (2002)
  • Intrinsic QualitiesCultural, Historic
  • LocationMD, PA, IL, IN, OH, WV
  • Length90 of 824 total miles
Byway Visitor Information
National Road Heritage Center
Statewide Byway Partners
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater is framed by the surrounding foliage.
Dennis Adams 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

Historic National Road is one of the most iconic roadways in the entire nation, spanning over 800 miles and going through 6 states in total! In Pennsylvania visitors have the option to do just about anything. Along the way there are plenty of gorgeous views, recreational opportunities, and even the chance to learn about the area’s rich history. This vast road provides so much opportunity for visitors to truly experience all the beauty that the area has to offer. Historic National Road runs through the southwest corner of the state of Pennsylvania and passes through iconic locations from the time of the revolution and much more.

The natural qualities alone make this roadway one of the most wonderful trips that anyone can take, without even mentioning the historical significance. While the entire 800-mile road contains incredibly picturesque views and locations, the Pennsylvania portion specifically is a true gem for natural beauty. Passing through miles of seemingly untouched land, visitors have the chance to drive through lush forests and see pristine waters. In addition to the beautiful views of nature, the architecture that can be found in some of the local towns is really wonderful to see. Buildings that have stayed intact for decades really can take visitors back in time to see how life was back then. Nemacolin Castle is an attraction along the way that must be seen for all its beauty. The third oldest castle in the United States, the architecture of this majestic building is a beautiful sight to see and contains so much history.

While the natural qualities are so significant throughout this Byway, this road’s main attraction must be the history that can be found. Cutting through a crucial part of America during the Revolutionary War, Historic National Road has an incredible amount of importance to our nation. In addition to its importance during the Revolution, there is also history from the French and Indian War that can be found along the way. The roots of the road come from the trails that Native Americans created for George Washington and his troops during the French and Indian War. Also along the Byway is the site of the original Whiskey Rebellion in the 1790s which was a key event during the infancy of our nation. This road has also served as a backdrop for some of the most important social and cultural movements in the entire nation during the early days of the official United States.

There is truly no shortage of opportunity for visitors to fully experience everything this road has to offer. Historic National Road is truly a key historical piece of the United States, and anyone who takes the trip will come out amazed with how much they have learned. Not to be overlooked is the natural qualities of the area as well, with views that are hard to find anywhere else. With beautiful parks and overlooks along the way, any nature lover will have a wonderful time as well. This is the perfect trip for those who are in the area and can be completed in one day very easily.

Driving Directions

Historic National Road cuts through the southwest corner of Pennsylvania. There are 90 miles total in the Pennsylvania portion, and it is all located along Route 40.

Points of Interest

  • Ft. Necessity National Battlefield

    This Battlefield honors the first battle of the French and Indian War in 1754.

  • Nemacolin Castle

    This beautiful building overlooks the Monongahela River and is a key part in the overall history of the area.

  • West Alexander

    This quaint and rural town has so much history and is a beautiful location to visit along the Byway.


  • Take a Trip through History

    If you begin your journey along Historic National Road from the Pennsylvania-Maryland border from Route 40 and head northwest, there is no shortage of history and scenic views that can be experienced.

    After driving through the borough of Addison and stopping by the historic Addison Tollhouse, you can immediately get a taste of history by stopping at Fort Necessity National Battlefield. Located incredibly close to the battlefield is one of the great geological locations in the entire area, Laurel Caverns. If you continue after stopping by the battlefield and the caverns, you eventually reach Uniontown which has plenty of shops, restaurants, and parks that can be accessed to enjoy the quaint town.

    Continuing from Uniontown along Historic National Road, you will end up in Brownsville, which is a wonderful town located along the Monongahela River. Brownsville has an incredible historic district, Nemacolin Castle, and multiple picturesque bridges that are great sights to see. A staple along this section of the road is the Madonna of the Trail, which has been standing for almost 100 years.

    The end of your journey is still full of opportunity as well! Right before you reach West Alexander, you can stop by historic buildings such as the Century Inn, the LeMoyne House, and the David Bradford House. Finally, you can end your journey at the small borough of West Alexander. With shops and homes still intact from when they were built over 150 years ago, this town is a wonderful end to your journey along the National Road.

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