U.S. Route 40 was built to connect the East and the West, an idea brought to life by George Washington. It provided a stable route for trade through the Allegheny Mountains by farmers and emigrants. In the 1830's, the highway became possession of the state in which it passed through and that allowed for tolls to be collected, 6 tollhouses were built, only 2 remain, and you will pass 1 along this route. Cast-iron mile markers were placed along the route, they may not be the original markers, but you will notice their obelisk nature. The use of this National Road peaked in the 1840's and was then nicknamed the nations "Main Street". However, In the 1860's, this road became insignificant as the use of railroads was on the rise. States gave the rights to the small towns the road passed through so that they didn't have to maintain the road. In the 1880's, the road was revitalized thanks to the use of automobiles. It was popular for people to tour, or take the scenic route, and many businesses came and prospered from this. The Post Office Appropriation Act of 1912 and the Rural Road Act of 1916 made it possible to rebuild the National Road and it became a priority after WWI. In 1921, the National Road became U.S. Route 40.
It has since been replaced by I-70 and I-68, yet, it continues to be heavily used as a local road, All American Road (6/13/2002), PA State Scenic Byway (7/11/1996) and the PA Heritage Corridor (5/1994).
U.S. Route 40 enters from WV and parallels I-70, in Washington, the largest city along Route 40. This route begins just outside of the Franklin Mall, also known as the Washington Crown Center, and proceeds down Chestnut Street until you get to Jefferson Avenue, where you turn right and follow E. Maiden Street past Washington & Jefferson College, heading southeast, you come upon the first of many climbs and ascend up Pancake hill in Laboratory, crossing over I-79 at the top. From there, you will follow U.S. Route 40 through winding roads and rural towns with rolling hills. Heading east-southeast, you will follow U.S. Route 40 through Scenery Hill & Beallsville. Be sure to make a stop at Sweeties for cinnamon rolls that are sure to save you from a crash around mi 34-ish, just ask my pacer. They are hands down, the best pick me up you could ask for! After passing Nemacolin Country Club, you will pass a Getgo gas station/laundry mat on the left, a great place for a RR & snack pitstop! Continuing onward, you reach Centerville, continuing straight and down a hill, eventually crossing the Monongahela River, using the Lane Bane Bridge, leading you out of Washington County and into Fayette County. In Brownsville, you continue straight and ascend up the hill, business U.S. Route 40 runs parallel to this, I did not take that route. Following this path of U.S. Route 40, you cross over PA-43 and turn left towards Uniontown. Rolling hills become evident immediately as you can see far into the distant at the crest of most of these hills. Make sure you take note of the pieces of history scattered throughout U.S. Route 40, including Searight's Tollhouse on the right. Before entering Uniontown, you pass the Uniontown mall after another climb and you crest the top, after a few lights, you will see the Welcome to Uniontown sign on the right side of the road. Continuing into Uniontown, you go straight until there is a T in the road and make a right. A few more climbs, they are not over yet, like I had hoped. Upon reaching the final climb, you descend into Hopwood, at the base of the Appalachian Mountains, you'll be glad I stopped here!
I believe there will be people who follow my lead and run this course, I hope they do so safely & with the same passion for running, history, and their friends as I carried in my heart along this route. I could not have accomplished this without my friends and family who prayed for my safety and well-being, and ultimately, my friends who provided support and paced me, along the way! Thanks to God, Natalie, Ava, Matt, Eric, Jenn, Tom, & Valerie.
- Submitted by Jamie Eakin