Roads, bridges, toll gates, etc.

Here is some history of the Mt. Washington Auto Road:

Since 1861, people from all walks of life have made the trek up the Mt. Washington Auto Road. From traveling by horse and carriage to taking a hybrid car to the summit, the Auto Road has become an American icon with a history rich in both innovation and tradition.

The history of the Road really began in the wheat fields of Canada. There were huge crops to be shipped out in winter, but there was no ice-free seaport available until a railroad line was built from Montreal to Portland in 1851. It passed through Gorham and that opened up the east side of the White Mountains to the tourist trade.

In 1850, the railroad had paid for rebuilding the road from Gorham into Pinkham Notch and had financed the construction of the Glen Bridle Path to the summit of Mount Washington.

It was a busy time. In 1852 the first Summit House was built on Mount Washington; there have been two other Summit Houses since. The Tip Top House, still standing, was erected in 1853, and in that year, the New Hampshire State Legislature granted General David Macomber of Middletown, Connecticut, the charter for the Mt.. Washington Road Company. The grand plan envisioned horse-drawn omnibuses on the Road, a massive hotel and observatory. Not all that came about, but work on the road began in the summer of 1854.

Building the road was an enormous task. The nearest source of supplies was eight miles away, and all transportation was by horse, oxen or on the backs of men. Dynamite was unknown, black powder was the explosive, and blasting holes were all drilled by hand. There was no machinery to handle the countless tons of rock and gravel that had to be moved. Even in Mount Washington's bad weather, laborers worked 10-12 hour days and lived in primitive shanties or tents.

Work progressed until the fall of 1856, when the halfway point was reached. Unfortunately, money ran out, and the effort was halted. But, a new company, the present Mount Washington Summit Road Company, was formed in 1859. The next year, work resumed, and the first tolls were collected for passage to the Halfway House.

The gala opening of the road took place on August 8, 1861, with many local dignitaries arriving at the summit in a Concord Coach. But, the honor of driving the first horse-drawn vehicle to the summit went to Col. Joseph Thompson, then proprietor of the Glen House. To be sure of beating out his friendly rival, Col. John Hitchcock, landlord of the Alpine House, Thompson drove his horse and carriage to the summit three weeks before the official opening. The last few yards were still so strewn with boulders that help was needed to keep the carriage upright, but he made it and he saw to it that a photographer was there.

After the Road was opened to the public, its business doubled every year until 1869, the year the Cog Railway was completed, on the west side of the Mountain. many found the relatively short trip and the enclosed cars preferable to an all day journey on the Road in open mountain wagons. Road management responded by building the Stage Office at the summit to lure Cog passengers down to the Glen House, from which they traveled to the railroad station by six-horse tally-ho and took the train back to where they started in Crawford Notch.

Still, for years the Cog carried many more passengers than the Road, and it took an unexpected new development to turn the tables, the motor car. The very first motorized ascent was by Feelan O. Stanley, of Stanley Steamer fame, in 1899. There were more steam-powered ascents during the next three years and then in 1902 the first two gasoline-powered cars reached the summit.

Clearly, the automobile age had begun on the Road. In 1912, the first motorized stage appeared, a secondhand Thomas Flyer. Since then, except when gasoline shortages intervened, the history has seen one of steady growth, 3,100 private cars in 1935, 6,600 in 1955, and 12,800 in the Road's 100th anniversary year, 1961. In recent years, as many as 45,000 cars have ascended the Auto Road.

The Mt.. Washington Auto Road is a living piece of American history and continues to delight, amaze and educate more visitors every year.

Press Contact
Steven Caming
steven@mt-washington.com
(603) 466-3988
Mt.. Washington Auto Road & Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center

Here is a poster of the Mt. Washington Auto Road:


Most any image* in the poster can be purchased individually in various sizes and on various media, framed or unframed, or the whole poster is available. 
* Unless copyright or quality of the source prohibits.

The National Road (Cumberland Road) was the first major improved highway in the United States to be built by the federal government. The approximately 620-mile (1,000 km) long National Road provided a connection between the Potomac and Ohio Rivers and a gateway to the West for thousands of settlers. When rebuilt in the 1830s, the Cumberland Road became the first road in the U.S. to use the new macadam road surfacing.
Construction began heading west in 1811 at Cumberland, Maryland, on the Potomac River. It crossed the Allegheny Mountains and southwestern Pennsylvania, reaching Wheeling, Virginia (now West Virginia), on the Ohio River in 1818. Plans were made to continue through St. Louis, at confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, and to Jefferson City upstream on the Missouri. Following the panic of 1837, however, funding ran dry and construction was stopped at Vandalia, Illinois, after crossing the states of Ohio and Indiana.
Beyond the National Road's eastern terminus at Cumberland and toward the Atlantic coast, a series of private turnpikes were completed in 1824, connecting the National Road (Pike) with Baltimore, Maryland and its port on Chesapeake Bay; these feeder routes formed what is referred to as an eastern extension of the National Road. In 1835, the road east of Wheeling was turned over to the states for operation as a turnpike. The road's route between Baltimore and Cumberland continues to use the name National Pike or Baltimore National Pike and as Main Street in Ohio today, with various portions now signed as U.S. Route 40, Alternate U.S. 40, or Maryland 144. A spur between Frederick, Maryland, and Georgetown in Washington, D.C., now Maryland Route 355, bears various local names but is sometimes referred to as the Washington National Pike; it is now paralleled by Interstate 270 between the Capital Beltway (I-495) and Frederick.
Today, much of the alignment is followed by U.S. 40, with various portions bearing the Alternate U.S. 40 designation, or various state-road numbers. The full road, including extensions east to Baltimore and west to St. Louis, was designated "The Historic National Road, an All-American Road" in 2002.

  • Many of the National Road's original stone arch bridges also remain on former alignments. Notable among these is the Casselman River Bridge near Grantsville, Maryland; built in 1813-1814, it was the longest single-span stone arch bridge in the world at the time.
  • The Wheeling Suspension Bridge across the Ohio River, opened in 1849, is the oldest vehicular suspension bridge in the United States still in use. A newer bridge carries I-70 and the realigned U.S. 40 across the river nearby. The original bridge is listed as both a National Historic Landmark and a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.
  • One of the road's original toll houses is preserved in La Vale, Maryland, and two others are located in Addison, Pennsylvania, and near Uniontown, Pennsylvania; they are known as the La Vale Tollgate House, Petersburg Tollhouse, and Searights Tollhouse respectively.
  • Many mile markers can still be found along the National Road, some well-maintained, others deteriorating, and yet others represented by modern replacements.
  • Various sections of brick pavement, built in the early twentieth century, are still in use on little-traveled alignments, particularly in eastern Ohio.
Here is the toll gate house at Lavale, MD. See also the mile marker inset in the picture.

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