In Ellicott City, driving a road to prominence


July 29, 2002|By Karen Nitkin | Karen Nitkin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

MAIN STREET in Ellicott City was one of the first sections of a highway that President Thomas Jefferson hoped would stretch from Baltimore to the Mississippi River.

Now, thanks to the efforts of Ellicott City resident Paul Bridge and others, the "National Road" has received federal recognition as an All-American Road.

Bridge attended a ceremony June 13 in Washington at which U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta designated 23 Scenic Byways and 13 All-American Roads.

All-American Road is the highest federal designation for a scenic road. To qualify, the road or highway must be so exceptional that travelers would consider the road itself the destination.

Also receiving the designation in June were the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina and the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada.

Bridge is the president of a recently formed Maryland National Road Association, which plans to file for nonprofit status soon. The organization will help Maryland's portion of the National Road capitalize on its cultural and historic treasures.

Bridge, a retired Department of Defense employee, has long held an interest in transportation history, particularly in the westward movement of people during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He volunteers at the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore and is active in the Patapsco Heritage Greenway and other organizations.

Bridge was introduced to the concept of the All-American Road a few years ago during a meeting of the Patapsco Heritage Greenway, he said. Since then, he has been working to help the road win the federal designation.

The All-American Road is actually six states long. It starts in Baltimore, traveling west through Ellicott City and on to Cumberland. From there, it passes through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, ending in Vandalia, Ill., about 150 miles east of the Mississippi.

"If you follow Interstate 70, you will get a good approximation," Bridge said.

The federal portion of the project began during Jefferson's time in office. He served as president from 1801 to 1809. The project began in Cumberland, Bridge said, because roads already connected Baltimore and Cumberland. However, most of them were muddy and narrow, often following trails originally used by Native Americans.

The federal road never reached St. Louis as originally planned because President Andrew Jackson decided that road-building was a job for the states, not the federal government. He stopped federal funding for the project in 1830.

The earliest constructed piece of the National Road is now Route 144, which runs through Ellicott City, Bridge said.

A sentence from the ceremony program sums up the significance of the National Road, Bridge said. It reads: "The national road is the most historic transportation corridor in the United States; it is a road that built this nation."

Bridge said the Maryland National Road Association has several dozen members. He hopes to increase that number to 100 this year, and 200 the next year.

Information: 410-997-8356 or e-mail

Church golf outing

Glen Mar United Methodist Church will hold its fourth annual golf outing Sept. 16 at the Timbers Golf Course in Elkridge. The event is open to the public.

Registration will begin at 7:30 a.m. and the event will start at 8:30 a.m. Awards and lunch are scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

The outing costs $125 a person and includes greens fees, a cart, breakfast and lunch. Prizes will be awarded for most accurate putt, longest drive and other accomplishments. A silent auction will be featured.

Proceeds will benefit the church's mission and community action programs. Information: Diane Keys, 410-465-4995.

Dean's list

Kara Eide of Ellicott City recently made the dean's list at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Eide, who graduated from Mount Hebron High School in 2000, is studying journalism with a minor in Japanese.

She plans to spend her fall semester at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan.

Music outdoors

The Sunset Serenades at Centennial Park are going strong. On Wednesday, the 2nd Story Band will present a blend of blues, Caribbean, pop and other music. The concert is free (the cost of parking is $3).

On Aug. 7, Airmen of Note will perform. The Army Air Force Band is considered one of the best big bands in the world. This concert also is free (no charge for parking).

The concerts begin at 7 p.m. at Centennial Park South. Food will be available for purchase.

Information: 410-313-7275. In case of bad weather: 410-313- 4451 after 4 p.m. the day of the performance.

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