EXIT of the Day: EXIT 13N in CT I-95n to; Post Road, Norwalk, Darien in CT
Once a trail for Native Americans, The Boston Post Road is part of ancient mail-delivery route between New York City north to Boston, Massachusetts. While intermittently called the King’s Highway, the current Route 1 is signed predominantly as the Post Road and it runs along and at times under Interstate 95. The Post Road was for 200 years the first major road in the United States — but its roots go back to a time many thousands of years ago.
Even in pre-colonial times 400 years ago, speed of correspondence was an important priority. Many Native Americans' Trails which tended to be the straightest line between two points, laid the way for huge Interstates like the I-95 North from Florida to Maine or the I-80 West from the George Washington Bridge in Jersey all the way out to San Francisco, California.
Between New York City and Boston there are actually 3 Post Roads. The so-called Lower Boston Post Road runs along the coast from New York to Boston via Providence. Some portions were originally called the Pequot Indians’ Path.
The trail had been in use by Native Americans long before Europeans arrived. Some of these important native trails were in many places as narrow as two feet. Even more telling, due to the popularity of its pre-European use, it was single rutted at places to a depth of 2 feet or more.
Prior to being used by Native Americans, many trails were game paths. Such game trails go back to times before history. So very likely, long extinct animals like Ice Age Mammoths and Saber-tooth tigers walked here along the edge of a glacier literally one thousand feet high.
Quick "Fast Fact": with all the seawater frozen up in glaciers the coastline of Connecticut was about 150 miles further east along what today fishermen know as the drop or the continental shelf. So you would not see Long Island Sound along I-95 as it is today. We would be well inland.
Fast Forward to July 1775. The usual old saw about “George Washington slept here” is true all along the Old Post Road. He galloped up it to aid the Bostonians fight off the British and then galloped back south to do the same at New York City and Trenton New Jersey. In fact Washington crossed and re-crossed your path maybe 100 times between here and Boston or New York! Talk about crossing paths with history!
The Post Road is famous for carved rock milestones that date from 1734. Many of these mile distant milestones survive to this day. There are several in the neighboring towns of Darien, Westport, and upcoming Fairfield. Ben Franklin was said to originate the idea for these stone carvings set precisely one mile apart. Milestones were measured from the intersection of Broadway, NYC and Wall Street, New York (one block west of Federal Hall) and from the old Boston city-line on Washington Street, near the present-day Massachusetts Turnpike.
Ben Franklin was the first Postmaster General. Franklin who lived from 1706 to 1790, created many aspects of today’s mail system. Some of Old Ben's contributions were to standardize postage rates as well as to promote regular service to civilians. More urgently, he created relays of correspondence to the Continental Army from the Congress during the Revolutionary War -- perhaps the first Priority Mail Express Service.
Building onto the existing King's Roads, Franklin set up new, more efficient routes including creating Post Roads which cut delivery time in half between Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and New York. Like the Pony Express 90 years later, his mail wagons travelled both day and night via relay teams. Finally, until Franklin came along, there were no post offices nor home delivery. Mail was typically left at your local tavern!
Final thought: given the historical importance of taverns in mail delivery, maybe if the mailman today delivered booze along with our bills, we would use the U.S. Mail more often!
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