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2018 Ohio Valley History Expo Celebrates National Road 200

Posted 12/10/18

The 2018 Ohio Valley History Expo will be celebrating the 200th Anniversary of the completion of the National Road from Cumberland, Maryland to Wheeling, (West) Virginia. The festivities will kick-off Saturday, November 3 at 11 am the Osiris Shrine Temple, also known as Monument Place or Shepherd Hall, 91 Kruger St. and will continue Tuesday, November 6 at noon at Lunch With Books at the Ohio County Public Library, 52 16th St. 

Lydia Boggs Shepherd CrugerOn Saturday, Nov.3 at 11 am at the Osiris Shrine Temple, Lydia Boggs Shepherd Cruger, as portrayed by Jeanne Carter, will lead a tour of Monument Place/Shepherd Hall. 

Following the tour, an optional $15 luncheon will be available at noon at Shepherd Hall. The luncheon, catered by Whisk Bakery will feature roasted beet & chèvre salad with spicy walnuts & house vinaigrette; creamy mushroom soup; an option of either a gourmet chicken salad sandwich with dried cherries & pecans served on a mini croissant or a roasted vegetable wrap with hummus and feta; & Whisk Bakery specialty cupcakes for dessert. Please RSVP for luncheon by October 26 at 304-232-0244 or [email protected].

Dr. Billy Joe PeytonFollowing the luncheon, at 1 pm Dr. Billy Joe Peyton, Professor of History at West Virginia State University, will talk about the “Making of the National Road.” Peyton received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in history from West Virginia University. His 30-year public history career began in the 1980s at Prickett’s Fort State Park, West Virginia Public Broadcasting, the National Park Service, and Kaymoor Coal Mine site. His publication credits include entries in the West Virginia Encyclopedia (print and online versions), a chapter in The National Road: The Road & American Culture (1996), and two local history works titled Charleston Then and Now (2009) and Charleston: The First 225 Years (2013). He has also worked as writer and historian on several documentary films, including Ghosts of Green Bottom, Red Salt & Reynolds, and The Midland Trail, and may be seen in The 50 States series on the History Channel.

The tour at 11 am and the talk at 1 pm are free and open to the public. 

Hilary Miller as a stagecoach passengerThe 2018 Ohio Valley History Expo will continue on Tuesday, November 6 at Lunch With Books at the Ohio County Public Library. In her program, "Stories from the Stagecoach," Hilary Miller, a Ph.D. candidate in American Studies at Penn State University, will examine the experiences of travelers on the National Road during the road’s heyday in the first half of the 19th century. Many travelers kept accounts that described their travels on the National Road. Common topics in the narratives include encounters with stagecoach passengers, accommodations at roadside hotels and taverns, and scenery and tourist sites along the route of the road. Portraying a traveler along the road, Miller will uncover the experience of traveling on the National Road and explore the material culture of stagecoach travel, particularly for women making the journey along the National Road.

Her dissertation, tentatively titled, “‘Popularly it was known as the National Road’: The National Road, the Expansion of American Culture, and the Creation of American Identity,” focuses on the history of the National Road and its place in American cultural memory and history. Miller received her BA in History and English from Washington & Jefferson College. She earned her MA in History with a Public History Concentration at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is a seasonal park ranger with the National Park Service at Fort Necessity National Battlefield and Friendship Hill National Historic Site. She has previously taught History and American Studies courses at Washington & Jefferson College, UNC Charlotte, and multiple Penn State campuses.

A National Road exhibit, “America’s First Highway: The National Road in West Virginia,” will be on display at the Ohio County Public Library throughout the month of November. Curated and created by the Museums of Oglebay Institute, the exhibit will be on loan at the library courtesy Oglebay Institute. A second exhibit, "Great Crossing of the National Road," will also be on display at the library courtesy Fort Necessity National Battlefield and National Road Interpretive and Education Center.

All library events are free and open to the public. 

The Historic National Road, the Nation’s first federally funded highway, was conceived by George Washington and brought forward during Jefferson’s presidency by his Secretary of the Treasury, Albert Gallatin. Construction began in 1811 on the first leg of the road and the National Road from Cumberland to Wheeling was completed in 1818.

As wealthy plantation owners, Lydia and Moses Shepherd ascended to the apex of early Wheeling society, counting many influential individuals, such as U.S. Senator Henry Clay, among their friends. The Shepherds’ friendship with Sen. Henry Clay helped to secure the routing of the National Road through Wheeling ensure that the new National Road passed directly by the couple's stone mansion, Shepherd Hall. To show their gratitude, the Shepherds commissioned a monument to Clay to be erected on their property, which subsequently became known as “Monument Place,” and is now home to the Osiris Shrine Temple.

Wheeling 250 logoA kick-off for the year-long 2019 Wheeling 250 celebration, the 2018 Ohio Valley History Expo is presented through a partnership of the City of Wheeling Arts & Cultural Commission, Wheeling Heritage, the Osiris Shriners of Wheeling, Oglebay Institute, Fort Necessity National Battlefield and National Road Interpretive and Education Center, and the Ohio County Public Library.

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