Often billed as "the road that built a nation," the National Road (Route 40) stretches nearly 700 miles across six states-from Maryland's seashore to Illinois' farmland. Thirty-two miles of the road pass through Guernsey County, traveling down the heart of Cambridge along Wheeling Avenue.
Before becoming the iconic road it is today, the National Road began as a simple wilderness footpath connecting Kentucky and Ohio and was used primarily by Native Americans and frontiersmen.
The trail soon became referred to as Zane's Trace after Ebenezer Zane, who was commissioned by the U.S. Congress in 1796 to begin construction of a connecting wagon route from Zanesville, Ohio, to Wheeling, West Virginia.
The trace quickly grew in size and importance to the expansion of the country westward. In 1806 President Thomas Jefferson signed legislation enabling the construction of the first federally funded national road. The road took nearly 30 years to construct from east to west, reaching completion in Guernsey County in 1828.
It wasn't long before inns, taverns and other amenities sprung up along the road, catering to the needs of businessmen, politicians, farmers and everyday citizens as they traversed the road at increasing rates.
From the 1820s to the 1840s the road served as the main artery for the country's commerce east to west until the railroad immerged in the 1850s as the prime mode of transportation for goods and people. It was not until the early 1900s, at the onset of World War I, that the National Road began to regain national attention as the government made it a priority to maintain it and other major highways.
The dawn of the automobile brought new reasons for Americans to travel. As they visited friends and relatives, or took scenic trips, they brought with them the need for new restaurants, service shops, theatres, hotels and more. In the 1960s the road was eclipsed by the creation of Interstate 70, but has since been designated as a national scenic byway and is gaining the attention of travelers once more for those seeking a less hectic driving route. Guernsey County's rich cultural heritage is reflected in the historic architecture and agricultural scenery. Antique shops, locally operated restaurants and attractions, and inns along Route 40 enhance the experience of traveling this historic highway.
The National Road offers adventure seekers today a great road trip just as it did two centuries ago. More than 25 key attractions, points of interests and interpretive signs, specific to the history of the road, are located throughout the county. From the famous "S" bridges to stagecoach stops and tollgates, the route is lined with picture perfect sites.
Begin your foodie exploration of Guernsey County by strolling Wheeling Avenue for specialty chocolate, donuts and cakes, craft beers, artesian wines and cheeses and more!
Theo's Restaurant in downtown Cambridge dishes up its famous mile-high lemon and chocolate pies topped so high with a tasty homemade meringue - you may not see the person across the table! Dig in!
Bake & Shake
The aroma of freshly baked glazed donuts, sugar cookies, pies and other goodies at Kennedy's Bakery envelope you the moment you walk through the door. "The Original," as the locals affectionately call it, has been part of the community since 1925. Kennedy's Cakes and Donuts, located just a few miles from downtown, boasts 11 showcases of pastries - making it the largest display of baked goods in the state of Ohio. The shop has placed first in the U.S.A. Baking Contest. Did we mention they also have over 1 million milkshake flavors?
Pass the green beans, please! Francis Family Restaurant allows everyone to gather and share the best of home cooked meals, conversation, and time.
The Guernsey Kitchen in historic downtown Cambridge offers the Best scratch made foods created with local ingredients. Right next door, you'll find McKenna's Market, a deli featuring specialty artisan foods. Shop for craft beers, wines, cheeses, and more.
The atmosphere at Central Station Steak & Ale hook's you from the start. The restaurant's homage to trains is rustic with a modern flare. The menu ranges from lobster bisque to ribeye. Slide up to a full bar for a drink of ale and other spirits.
Handcrafted in Cambridge, Nothing But Chocolate (need we say more?) is a chocoholic's dream! You'll feel as if you've stepped into Willy Wonka's Factory.
Old Fashioned Drive-In
Ok, if you are going to eat deep fried, foot-long Coney dogs, peanut butter milk shakes, onion rings, burgers or anything else that will cause you to add a few pounds, Orr's Drive-In is the BEST place to find it!
VisitGuernsey.com or call 800.933.5480 for a free travel guide!