Historical Markers
Great Crossings Historical Marker
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Great Crossings

Laurel Highlands/Southern Alleghenies


Marker Location:
US 40 at Youghiogheny River

Dedication Date:
October 24, 1947

Behind the Marker

An aerial view of a lake with a large stone bridge visible just above the water level. The inset photo shows a closeup of two of the stone arches and the roadway, still intact.
An aerial view of a lake with a large stone bridge visible just above the water...
An American traveler arrived at the "great crossings of the Youghogeny [sic] River" on September 1, 1810 and noted in his diary that the "fording [was] very bad." In early national America there were few obstacles more daunting to travelers than a river. It was difficult enough to journey over steep mountains, or slog through mud, but crossing a river meant facing a series of obstacles such as rocks and unknown depths that could often end in overturned wagons, ruined supplies, and death by drowning.

Great Crossings, while still a difficult area to navigate, was manageable enough for most experienced tradesmen or settlers looking to head west into the Ohio River Valley. The journey at Great Crossings became easier, however, when the federal government decided to construct the markerNational Road. Forty feet high and 30 feet wide, it was built between 1815 and 1818. When it was opened on July 4, 1818, the bridge spanned 375 feet and boasted three stone arches made of locally quarried sandstone. The opening of the National Road Bridge over the Youghiogheny River was a grand affair with President James Monroe and several cabinet officers in attendance.

During the early 1940s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers destroyed the bridge by flooding the region as part of a river control project which created the Youghiogheny River Lake.
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