Learning Lincoln On-line


Old National Trail Home Page and Activity Introduction

National Trail Activity Tasks

  Photos of the Old Original "National Trail" Stone Bridge, still in use over U.S. 40 Spur, W. of Marshall, Illinois  (By Howard Taylor)

. . . .Note the keystone at the top-center of the arch.  This bridge was constructed of limestone, and was tightly fit together without cement of any other means.  It still supports semis, and any vehicle on the U.S. 40 spur.

19th Century to Present
. . . .Also known as Cumberland Trail, Cumberland Pike, National Trail.  the Nemacolin's Path and old Braddock's Road are connected with this 1st Interstate Highway for the United States








Visit Our Other Pioneer/ Abraham Lincoln Web Activity Sites ,  but come on back here!

Old National Road now known as U.S. 40

This Year 2006 is the Bi-Centennial of the start of the Old National Trail, initiated by President Thomas Jefferson,
Signs at the U.S. 40 and Old National Road Intersection,

West of Marshall, Il

Origin of the Old National Trail
A New Start!  Westward Bound   Why and Where the Emigrants would go--
Planning the Journey
Life & Death on the Trail
Wagons, Horses & Oxen
Milestone Markers & Maps
The Madonna's on the Trail
The Trail into the 20th Century
Trail On-Line Resources
Old National Trail is now U.S. 40
National Highway System Interstates and the Future


       The National Road (also known as the Cumberland Road, Cumberland Pike, National Pike and Western Pike) was created by an Act of Congress in 1803 and signed by President Thomas Jefferson. The road is commonly known to start around Baltimore, Maryland, but also some think Cumberland, Maryland.  The National Road has a special interest in states from Maryland to Illinois.

Here are some activities to do in conjunction with the On-Line project:

Students are to complete National Trail Notepad pages while finding information.  Remind them to document the webpage title and URL at the bottom of the pages.

1.  Create and travel on a simulated "Old Trail"

         Design and make milestone markers and put together an "Old Trail" on the school grounds.  Such things as furniture dropped off, bones of a cow, messages left on rocks or a piece of wood, and perhaps a tombstone (wooden cross of a deceased traveler) along the trail.

         "Camp out" along the trail while traveling to:  eat, drink (water, juice), sing some folk songs, talk and visit, gather sticks for the fire (simulated), and maybe even play some pioneer games (kids)

         Use a GPS device to create a map of the grounds with points marked with milestone markers.  Travelers will have to use the GPS device to find each marker.  Draw a map based upon their journey on the "old trail"

         Take on the role of a pioneer and a Native American to be met along the trail.  Trade items that each would like or need-- a peaceful meeting!

         Add other items as you and your students discover during the initial reading and research

2.  Reading and Writing:

         Have students write a Pioneer "journal" in which a month's worth of days would recorded.  The entries will include daily activities of the trip, special events, personal notes.  The journal could be illustrated. (all can be done by computer word processor and a scanner.

         Read a biography about a famous pioneer who travelled out west.  The library usually has plenty of these on the shelves.  An encyclopedia or an Internet biography could work also.  After reading the book, the student could report back about the person they read about to the class in the form of a short dramatic "dress-up" presentation, such as a  Power Point presentation , or even a colorful art work (poster, picture or chart).

         Have students write a narrative story concerning an aspect of being a pioneer on the trail to out west.  Any specific sub-topic that interests the student would be appropriate.  Set your own standards as for writing quality and quantity.

         Have students create illustrated maps of their favorite "Old West Trail."  Viewing actual old maps on the Internet or from books would give them an idea of what a 19th century map looks like.

         Teachers in the school could have a Pioneer Life day at the school.  Food, games, speeches, presenters, and displays would make a very exciting day.  Be sure to capture the event with digital and video images for presentation later.

As you can see, there are a myriad of really great things to do to teach about Pioneer Life.  I didn't mention Learning Standards.  It seems that reading, writing, math, social studies (history and geography), as well as weather, biology, and other standards could be addressed with a project.

 Pioneer Resoures

National Trail  Student Activity Page Pioneer Times Hotlist of Resources  
Student Trail Notepad 
For writing notes and credits for information gathering
Using "Primary" Resources for Research  
National Trail Resource Page
National Park Service Traveling the National Road Classroom Activity

National Trail Resources

Return to My Pioneer Activity Page

Return to Learning On-Line