The Oldest Road in Kentucky Altered American Travel
Over the many years that I've been a licensed driver, I've spent a good deal of spare time finding and driving the backroads of Daviess County (I believe there are still a few I haven't hit) and Kentucky (I believe there are QUITE a few I haven't hit).
I don't know if you'd call me old-fashioned because of this--I'm really not sure WHAT this is--but I absolutely love to drive. In fact, I still marvel at the whole process. For many of you, it's about as noteworthy as putting on your shoes. I get that. But for me, I'm still like a new driver behind the wheel.
Yes, I've traveled many a Kentucky road and actually tackled some new ones just this past weekend. Well, they were new to me. About four years, I drove a Kentucky highway that was new to me but, in actuality, is as far from NEW as you can get when it comes to roads in the Commonwealth.
The Oldest Road in Kentucky
The Importance of the Maysville Road to Rest of America
Of course, it wasn't numbered when it became the first American highway that led folks west across the Appalachians. Professor Karl Raitz from the University of Kentucky's Department of Anthropology and Nancy O'Malley--the assistant director of the William S. Webb Museum of Anthropology at the university--wrote a book called Kentucky's Frontier Highway: Historical Landscapes Along the Maysville Road that explores the history of this transformative byway.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's Heritage Spotlight describes it here:
It was the first highway in the trans-Appalachian West and was one of the most important roads in post-colonial America. It linked the “Eden of the West” (early 1800s
Lexington) to the commercial centers of a growing nation.
What to See Along the Oldest Road in Kentucky
Now, what can you see today as you travel along Kentucky's oldest highway? Well, you'll either begin in Lexington or WIND UP in Lexington, but we're all well aware there's plenty to do in the Commonwealth's second-largest city. So let's move on to Paris KY and a 4K virtual tour of the city. Now this tour is VERY detailed, so you might want to skip ahead to the 21:00 mark where a look at the downtown area begins. But if you want to go straight to a TOTALLY expected landmark, go to 23:24:
Up the road, you'll find Millersburg, a town that prides itself on not only its Christmas Experience at Mustard Seed Hill...
...but also its historic and abandoned Millersburg Railroad Bridge.
And, of course, the road ends in Maysville, the best small southern town in the nation according to USA Today.
With spring upon us and the weekends getting warmer and warmer, you may have just landed on a cool road trip opportunity. Soak in the history of the Maysville Road and, perhaps, make some awesome personal history of your own.