The National Road in Illinois

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The Historic National Road...

also known as the "Road That Built the Nation", was created in 1806 by legislation signed by President Thomas Jefferson. Sometimes called "The Cumberland Road" and "The Old Pike", it was the only road completely built with federal funds.

Originally winding from Cumberland, Maryland to Vandalia, Illinois, the National Road opened Illinois to settlement. Today, the Illinois National Road stretches 164 miles from Marshall to East St. Louis and is mirrored by U.S. Route 40 and Interstate 70.

Visitors can see where Lincoln’s political career began, marvel at a giant catsup bottle, and enjoy the food, festivals, and fun that make the Historic National Road a relaxed journey through Americana.

Mission Statement

The National Road Association of Illinois has as its mission to preserve, protect, promote. and enhance the Historic National Road across the State of Illinois for future generations. The Association also interprets the heritage of Illinois, promotes cultural tourism in all twenty-three communities on the Road, and strives to boost economic development along the Road. The twenty-one historical kiosks placed along the Road help interpret each community’s history because of the Road. The kiosks create “emotional archaeology” for visitors recalling past events, people, places, customs, and other social happenings that happened along the Road. Members of the National Road Association believe that the Road will create a tourism beacon for visitors to spend “quality time” on the 164 miles of the National Road. This is truly the “The Road That built the Nation”. Other names for the Road are the Cumberland Trail, National Pike, National Trail, and the National Road. It became a main street through several communities earning it the nickname “The Main Street of America”. The Road is also a National Scenic Byway and All-American Road. 

Vision Statement

The vision for members of the National Road Association of Illinois is that through the National Road Welcome Center in Marshall, Illinois and the National Road Interpretive Center in Vandalia, Illinois, they will instill a sense of pride for the National Road and its many stories and help educate and showcase the history, culture, art, architecture, beauty, and transportation along the National Road.