National Road Planning Initiative

The Road that Helped Build the Nation

The National Road holds a significant place in the history of Ohio and the nation. It was our country’s first federally funded interstate highway and provided both a route to the frontier and market access for the sparsely settled Midwest during the early 19th century.

Becoming an All-American Road National Scenic Byway required that a Corridor Management Plan be developed to guide the long-term management and development of the Road corridor. Ohio History Connection completed the National Road Corridor Management Plan (the Plan) with a Federal Highway Administration National Scenic Byway Program grant. The Plan is overseen by the Ohio National Road Association (ONRA).

The central focus of the Plan is a set of management strategies that guide the enhancement, development, marketing and promotion, preservation, restoration and interpretation of the Road. The management strategies address the elements required by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for National Scenic Byway Designation while also providing a practical document from which the ONRA and local groups and organizations can work to achieve the visions and goals for the byway.

A Traveler's Guide to The Histroric National Road in Ohio: The Road That Helped Build America, is a 46-page, full-color guide that provides a point-by-point description of the significant historical, cultural, natural and recreational sites associated wth the National Road in Ohio, from the east to the west. To learn more about the travelers guide and how to obtain a free copy or call the Ohio History Connection at 614.297.2300 or 800.686.6124.


Conceived by Albert Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury under Thomas Jefferson, the National Road fulfilled a desire by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and others to build an all-weather road across the Allegheny Mountains. To strengthen political and economic ties between the east coast states and the developing west, construction began in Cumberland, Md., in 1811 and reached the Ohio River at Wheeling in 1818. In 1825, ground was broken in Ohio, with the Road reaching Zanesville in 1830, Columbus in 1833 and Springfield in 1838.

All-American Road National Scenic Byway

National Scenic Byways are special routes that provide travelers with alternatives to the monotony of high-speed inter-state travel. In June 2002, the entire six-state corridor of the Historic National Road, from Maryland to Illinois, was designated an All-American Road National Scenic Byway by the U.S Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration. The 600-mile highway, including more than 220 miles in Ohio, represents more than 200 years of American history.

To be designated a National Scenic Byway, a road must possess at least one of six intrinsic qualities (archaeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational, or scenic). The road's distinctive characteristics must be recognized throughout the region. The Road also had to be considered a destination unto itself. That is, the road must provide an exceptional traveling experience so recognized by travelers that they would make a drive along the highway a primary reason for their trip.

Ohio Historic National Road Design Handbook

The Ohio History Connection and the ONRA produced the Ohio Historic National Road Design Handbook with a Federal Highway Administration National Scenic Byway Programs grant. The Handbook is intended to aid numerous audiences, including regional planners, local governments, property owners, developers and community activists. Whether your interest lies in promoting the byway's history, protecting its character, developing private property, or making roadway improvements, the Handbook provides information and resources that you can use to help guide decision-making. The Handbook has been called “a solid model for future planning by byway stakeholders." Contact the State Historic Preservation Office at 614.298.2000 for additional information about the handbook.

National Road Corridor Management Plan