Taking the King’s Highway to get to his Presidential inauguration in New York in 1789, George Washington had to cross a very unique bridge. Another notable American known to have crossed it was John Adams. When a Japanese film crew came to America in 1996 to film an iconic American bridge, this was the main one that they wanted to document. The construction of this bridge with many names—with the Frankford Avenue Bridge being the one listed in the National Register of Historical Places—was begun in 1697 to span the Pennypack Creek. It is still standing, and you can cross it on a motorcycle. It is the oldest stone bridge still in use in the U.S., and it supports the oldest road in America—the King’s Highway.
While the West offers wide open spaces, endless stretches of highway, and grand vistas that can take your breath away, east of the Mississippi River is where we can find the roads that connect us with America’s colonial past. No other highway in America can make those connections better than King Charles’ highway that connected Charleston, SC, with Boston, MA. Although almost all of it has been widened to accommodate larger vehicles and its name has often been changed, the heart of the King’s Highway is still there.
The King’s Highway didn’t become a continuous wagon road until 1735, but it isn’t so much the road but where it takes you. This road is a branch of, runs through, or passes by thousands of historical sites. Among them are the eastern branch of US 6A, the Barnstable County of Cape Cod with nearly 500 historical buildings, and Yorktown, the famous final battlefield between the Colonies and England. Docked in Boston is the USS Constitution, or Old Ironsides. If you take the King’s Highway from Wilmington, NC, to Charlottesville, VA, you are essentially on General Cornwallis’ escape route as he fled to Yorktown after his defeat at Cowpens in 1780. The list goes on. If you’re looking for the backbone of Colonial American history, the King’s Highway is it.
There are so many sites to see off of the King’s Highway, and in many cases it is difficult to know if you are even cruising on it. However, if you are looking for it and start crossing roads with names like King’s Ave, King’s Ln, King’s Crossing, or King St, you’re traveling at least somewhere near it. There is perhaps no other road in America where your tires will make contact with U.S. history quite like the King’s Highway. The road was constructed in America, but its real starting point was the throne of England.