George F. ”Frank” Mayfield & Nell Heffernan’s Side Trip to a portion of the Old National Road


Frank & Nell went stopped in the area where far western Pennsylvania and far western Maryland meet, west about 2 hours drive from our 2017 Annual Meeting site in Alexandria, Virginia this year.

We deliberately drove from the Pittsburgh area to Alexandria, VA, in order to drive over and stop along the 'National Corridor,' the transportation passageway, from the east Coast of North America, from Philadelphia, Baltimore, Alexandria, Georgetown, and Richmond through the Appalachian Mountains west into the Ohio River territories, roughly following the Potomac River. 

The first 'road' from Maryland to Pittsburgh was actually a well-marked trail cut by George Washington and a regiment of Virginia militia who first engaged the French and their Indian allies in 1754. The following year, General Edward Braddock led a column of some 2,000 British regulars and militia from Cumberland, MD, by clearing a twelve-foot wide 'roadway' some 300 miles through wilderness to the Pittsburgh, PA, area in order for the British troops and their 300 cannon to pass through without major obstacles. The original route of Braddock and his men was through Maryland to Frederick, into Virginia and through gaps and ‘saddles’ in the ridges of the Appalachians to Cumberland, MD, and from Cumberland to the Pittsburgh area.

click on a photo below to enlarge, to view other related images (if any), and read any other text information on the image(s) 

Nell and I captured images of many parts of this roadway, because 30 years later, Maryland Catholics, with Higdons among them, walked all the way from southern Maryland to Pittsburgh, PA, in the first leg of the Maryland Catholic Migration to Kentucke. The second leg was to float on large rafts of wood downriver from Pittsburgh to Maysville, KY. The third leg was to walk from Maysville into the Grand Plateau, now known as the Bluegrass of central Kentucky. Our most recent trip was centered on the northernmost spot on the Potomac River, Hancock, MD, at a spot that narrows dramatically squeezing all traffic onto the original Cumberland Road, which was then covered over with the original National Road (today's Old National Pike), which was then covered over with U.S. Rte. 40. So today, if a person stands in the center of Hancock, MD, looking west on Hancock’s Main Street, that person would be standing on the road used by all the Maryland Catholics who migrated into Kentucke between 1785 and 1825, probably many hundreds of people, Higdons among them.

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