National Road Pictorial

Photography by Andrew Murdock | Posted on 04.30.14 – Feature, History, Travel

Perhaps the most recognizable (and curious) symbol along the National Road in Frederick County is the Jug Bridge Monument, once located on the east bank of the Monocacy River and relocated to its current location along Md. 144 in 1965.
Early American explorers could never have envisioned the National Road’s commercial and retail role two centuries later. Today, one of its more popular stops is for a tasty frozen treat.
Though commonly associated with the City of Frederick and the county’s towns, the National Road is also a window to the county’s rich rural and agricultural heritage that continues today.
“People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they're not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten lost.” —H. Jackson Brown Jr., author

The National Road is our mother road, the path that roams through both our communities and our souls. In many ways it defines us, but it also divides us. It’s an asphalt welcome mat that takes us from where we have been to where we might explore. It was on this trail that many 19th-century Americans, heeding the advice of those like newspaperman Horace Greeley, who implored people to “Go West,” took to the dusty National Road in search of new and better lives.

In Frederick County, the route of the National Road is draped like an east-west ribbon across the landscape, starting in Mount Airy on what is now Md. 144, continuing through historic New Market and then slicing through Downtown Frederick on Patrick Street. From the Golden Mile, it moves onto what is now Alt. U.S. 40, across Braddock Mountain and into the Middletown Valley before reaching the county line atop South Mountain.

Along the way, it twists and turns, never revealing the same view twice. It offers breathtaking vistas in some stretches and pedestrian clutter in others. It’s the Main Street for familiar towns while also the farm road in other areas. It is Frederick County.