Historic National Road gets a boost in Ellicott City



The path of America's first federal highway runs more than 824 miles from Baltimore's Inner Harbor to the Mississippi River - including a 170-mile section in Maryland freshly dotted with interpretive markers and outlined in an accompanying guide.

Now tourism officials are urging drivers to discover the inns, churches, parks, bridges and scenic overlooks along the Historic National Road, which follows parts of Route 144, U.S. 40 and Interstate 68 across seven Maryland counties.

At a promotional kickoff in Ellicott City yesterday, supporters of the Historic National Road unveiled one of 66 new site markers and a map developed with the help of state agencies, local officials and volunteers.

"I think as more and more Americans are seeking affordable, quick getaways, the Historic National Road and our other scenic byways are becoming increasingly important travel and tourist destinations," said Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, who helped get the Historic National Road designated an All-American Road by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2002.

Communities along the route also will benefit from the influx of tourist dollars at hotels, restaurants and attractions, he said.

Despite high gas prices, research by the travel industry indicates people will still want to take trips, said Camila Clark, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Office of Tourism. "We're asking people to travel in their own backyards ... short trips that are beautiful, scenic drives."

For more than a century the Historic National Road was an important route for commerce and settlers moving west.


Guides to the Historic National Road are available at Maryland Welcome Centers, 800-719-5900, or www.visitmaryland.org.

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