A very interesting book on the subject of the National Pike has just appeared at Project Gutenberg. The National Pike (now U.S. Route 40, and for substantial stretches Maryland Route 144) brought the East to the West, and passes through what are now the southern suburbs of Pittsburgh. Many milestones of the sort seen in the photograph still exist, and are lovingly maintained.
The idea of a federally funded highway to the West was a product of the Jefferson administration; the right wing, of course, denounced it as a pinko plot. (The word for “pinko” in those days was “Jacobin.”)
The author of the book, Mr. Thomas B. Searight, was the son of the Searight who operated a tollhouse west of Uniontown. That tollhouse is still there; it is built to the standard octagonal plan of the tollhouses on the National Pike.
The Old Pike. A History of the National Road, with Incidents, Accidents, and Anecdotes Thereon. Illustrated. By Thomas B. Searight. Uniontown, Pa: Published by the Author. 1894.
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The Pike Festival in May is a series of great events, entirely worth your time. It’s also a neighborhood yard sale stretching through three states.