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CONTENTS SET A:

THE EARLY U.S. 40-- FOLLOWS THE NATIONAL TRAIL

NATIONAL TRAIL TASK #4

CLICK HERE TO READ A U.S. HIGHWAY HISTORY 1926-

THE EARLY U.S. 40-- FOLLOWS THE NATIONAL TRAIL

Information from Wikipedia

       US 40 history can be traced back several centuries. Several well established Native American footpaths, including Nemacolin's Path and Mingo Path in the Maryland-Pennsylvania area, followed similar alignments to US 40. Early American colonists established roads, some following the established Native American paths, that would later serve as US 40. These included a segment of post road between Wilmington, Delaware, and Baltimore, Maryland. In 1755, during the French and Indian Wars, General Edward Braddock blazed a trail en route to capture Fort Duquesne (modern Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania). US 40 closely follows this route between Cumberland, Maryland and Uniontown, Pennsylvania.

       Early in the history of the U.S., the State of Maryland established a network of turnpikes for long-distance travel. Three of these would later serve as part of US 40: the Baltimore and Havre de Grace Turnpike, the Baltimore and Frederick Turnpike, and Bank Road. Colonel Ebenezer Zane (for whom Zanesville, Ohio was named) blazed some of the first trails across the Ohio wilderness in the last years of the 18th century. Zane's Trace, as his road was called, stretched from Wheeling, West Virginia, to Maysville, Kentucky. With some minor alignment differences, US 40 closely matches the segment from Wheeling to Zanesville.

       Between the cities of Lawrence and Topeka, Kansas, US 40 follows the path of the Oregon Trail. During the 19th century, the Oregon Trail served as a major thoroughfare for people emigrating to the Pacific Northwest. Between 1850 and 1852, some 65,000-70,000 people traveled the trail.

National Road History and Transition into a Modern Highway (U.S. 40)

A National Road mile marker in central Ohio

       In 1806, Thomas Jefferson signed into law an act of Congress establishing a National Road to connect the waters of the Atlantic Ocean with the Ohio River. The law mentions Baltimore as its eastern terminus; but the route used established Maryland turnpikes east of Cumberland. A new road was constructed from Cumberland to Wheeling, West Virginia, and later extended across the states of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Segments of the National Road used Braddock's Road and Zane's Trace. Plans to extend the road to Missouri were never completed. The farthest western terminus for the National Road was the Old State House in Vandalia, Illinois.

U.S. Route 40

National Road Route


Victory Highway Route

Route information

Length:

  2,285.74 mi

Existed:

 1926– present

 

       The National Road was absorbed into the National Old Trails Ocean-to-Ocean highway, a route from New York, New York, to Los Angeles, California in the early 20th century. The National Road became US 40 in the original 1925 plan for U.S. Routes. To this day, many places still name US 40 "National Road", even where the alignment was moved from the original road. Besides US 40, much of the National Road is paralleled by segments of Interstates 68 and 70.

Victory Highway-- U.S. 40 Kansas City to San Francisco

       Most of the western section of US 40 follows the former route of Victory Highway, a road that once linked Kansas City to San Francisco. The road was named as a memorial to fallen World War I veterans. Other than two sections (one in California and one in Kansas/Colorado) most of the original route of US 40 west of Kansas City used Victory Highway. According to a 1926 guide published about the Victory Highway, it was the fastest route between San Francisco and Salt Lake City, allowing travelers to complete the 784-mile (1,262 km) trip "comfortably and in high gear in from 3 to 4 days." Controversy over the routing of US 40 over the Victory Highway led to a "divided route", with US 40S following the Victory Highway and US 40N taking a more northerly route.

Evolution of US 40 Signage

Variations of this sign are posted along old alignments in California.

US 40 was one of the original 1925 U.S. Highways.

The route was a cross-country, east–west route, as most routes with a "0" number were defined. In 1926, the road had a total mileage of 3,228 miles (5,195 km). Though the eastern terminus was planned for State Road, Delaware, by 1927 it was moved to Atlantic City, New Jersey. The western terminus was San Francisco via an auto ferry across San Francisco Bay from the Berkeley Pier in Berkeley, California. Upon completion of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge, US 40 was re-routed over the bridge, bypassing the ferry pier. Early alignments of the road featured ferries at both ends. To cross the Delaware River, ferries were used, originally from Wilmington, Delaware (1927–1929) and later from New Castle, Delaware (1929–1951). In 1951, the opening of the Delaware Memorial Bridge replaced the ferry service and carried US 40 across the Delaware River.

       From 1926-1935 the route split in Manhattan, Kansas, into "40N" and "40S" routes; the two routes met again in Limon, Colorado. The "40S" route continued on to Grand Junction, Colorado. In 1935, the split routes were eliminated. US 40N between Manhattan and Limon and then US 40S from Limon to Grand Junction was replaced by U.S. Route 24, the remainder was renumbered as simply US 40.

       New alignments for the road were designated in Maryland in 1948 and in Utah in 1950. California's segment of the highway was decommissioned in 1964. By 1966, the western terminus moved to Reno, Nevada. The road shortened again in 1975, to its current western end at Silver Creek Junction, Utah. In 1998, the California segment was given a sort of rebirth with the designation of Historic Route 40 through that state. Further realignments occurred in Utah where the highway was re-routed for the Jordanelle Reservoir in the mid 1990s, and Kansas City, Kansas, in 1999 to make way for the Kansas Speedway. On December 1, 2008, a further realignment in Kansas City rerouted US 40 away from State Avenue and the Turner Diagonal and onto K-7 and Interstate 70.

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