Press Release

June 10, 2012

CUMBERLAND, MD — U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) today travelled to Cumberland to participate in the dedication of the National Road Monument in recognition of the bicentennial of the nation’s first federally financed road.   The monument contains a time capsule, which includes a Congressional Record statement by Senator Cardin.   The dedication is part of the 44th Annual Cumberland/Allegany County Heritage Days Festival. 

“The National Road was the first federally financed road and it helped to shape our nation’s economic growth and development.  By connecting East to West, it helped our young nation unite a diverse country and facilitate the flow of commerce and federal authority to more western areas of our country,” said Senator Cardin.  “As we celebrate this bicentennial, it should remind us of the importance of public investment in our nation’s infrastructure and how it can be a catalyst for economic growth and future prosperity.”

The National Road helped to transport a flow of goods and people to and from the Port of Baltimore, along privately developed turnpikes to Cumberland and across the mountains to the Ohio River valley.   In the early 1840s, The National Road was extended to Vandalia, Illinois, and, for more than a century, it was this nation’s only federally funded interstate highway.

Following the monument dedication, Senator Cardin accompanied members of the Allegany County NAACP in a visit to the historic Emmanuel Episcopal Parish and walking tour of the Underground Railroad tunnel located under the church.   For many escaped slaves, the Emmanuel Parish Underground Railroad tunnel was their last stop before reaching the Mason-Dixon Line and freedom four miles away.

“Emmanuel Parish and the Underground Railroad Tunnel are a testament to the bravery and courage of the Cumberland abolitionist community,” said Senator Cardin.  “For more than 200 years, Emmanuel Parish has been a strong voice for social action and for those in need, playing an important role in our nation’s history.”