"Roads are the veins and arteries of the body politic, for through them flow the agricultural productions and the commercial supplies which are the lifeblood of the state...But roads belong to that unappreciated class of blessings, of which the value and importance are not fully felt because of the very greatness of their advantages, which are so manifold and indeispensable, as to have rendered their extent almost universal and their origin forgotten." --W.M. Gillespie, 1849

The transportation revolution of the early nineteenth century usually focuses on canals, steamboats and finally railroads. Often forgotten is the humble road, always a basic in transportation but overlooked for its commonness. Native American trails were the first roads; European settlers followed them through the wilderness, but these useful footpaths were clearly not wide enough to transport more than the single-file group of people or, sometimes, a horse and rider. Building roads was an immediate occupation, and one that became ever more important as the United States found its boundaries expanding beyond the eastern corridor. As Albert Gallatin observed in his 1808 "Report on Roads and Canals," "the general utility of artificial roads and canals is at this time so universally admitted as hardly to require any additional proofs."