West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture & History

Archives and History Library to Present Lecture on the Construction of the National Road on April 16


CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Dr. Billy Joe Peyton will present “Making the Crooked Ways Straight and Rough Ways Smooth: Engineering and Construction of the National Road” on Thursday, April 16, in the Archives and History Library at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. The program will begin at 6 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Planning for the Cumberland Road, or National Road, began in 1806. Actual construction took place from 1811 to 1821 between Cumberland, Maryland, and Wheeling, Virginia. It was the nation’s first interstate highway and a popular route that transformed Wheeling into a “Gateway to the West.” The National Road featured a modern, paved surface and state-of-the-art bridges and culverts. Peyton will discuss engineering and construction of the road and the prominent role it played in the country’s early growth and development.

Peyton’s 30-year public history career began in the 1980s at Prickett’s Fort State Park, West Virginia Public Broadcasting, the National Park Service and the Kaymoor Coal Mine site. He was an associate director of the Institute for the History of Technology and Industrial Archaeology at West Virginia University (WVU) and currently he is professor of history in the College of Business and Social Sciences at West Virginia State University and co-director of the Glenwood Center for Scholarship in the Humanities.

His publication credits include a chapter in The National Road: The Road & American Culture (1996), entries in the West Virginia Encyclopedia, and two local history works titled Charleston Then and Now (2009) and Charleston: The First 225 Years (2013). He also served as a writer and historian on several documentary films, including Ghosts of Green Bottom, Red Salt & Reynolds and The Midland Trail, and can be seen in The 50 States television series on History. Peyton received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in history from WVU.

For additional information, contact the Archives and History Library at (304) 558-0230.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the division’s programs, events and sites, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.



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