During the course of making their business more profitable, the entrepreneurial Ellicott brothers (John, Andrew and Joseph) created one of the most picturesque scenic byways in Maryland – the Historic National Road. Dubbed the “road that built the nation,” it opened new land to exploration during the country’s time of Westward Expansion and also facilitated the movement of people, goods and livestock both east and westbound.
In 1772 the Ellicott brothers established a mill along the banks of the Patapsco River. The town founders then built a road to connect Ellicott’s Mills with the bustling seaport of Baltimore. Needing more raw materials for their mill, the three men persuaded local farmers to switch from planting tobacco to wheat. They also constructed the Frederick Turnpike in an effort to ease the transport of wheat from outlying farms to their flour mill.
In time, taverns, inns, wagon yards and barns were constructed to service people and livestock using the turnpike. Lisbon in western Howard County was one such stop.
Today’s visitors to Howard County can trace the route using The Historic National Road: The Road that Built the Nation map and guide. The brochure identifies the location of wayside markers at key locations along the byway including the B&O Railroad Museum: Ellicott City Station, Thomas Isaac Log Cabin and the Howard County Living Farm Heritage Museum.
In the spirit of 18th century travelers, today’s visitors are also encouraged to explore nearby restaurants, shops and boutiques.