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William Kerrigan: Cambridge

CambridgeNestled among the foothills of eastern Ohio, historic Cambridge sits on a bluff overlooking the meandering Wills Creek. The National Road, the first federally funded interstate road, serves as its main street and has shaped its identity, character, and economy. The first legal bridge in the Northwest Territory spanned Wills Creek here in 1802, along Ebenezer Zane’s narrow trace, which preceded the National Road. In the decades before the Civil War, the city thrived, serving travelers along this important thoroughfare; later Cambridge became a regional center for the coal, glass, and pottery industries. The arrival of the interstate system in the 1960s and the nearby construction of the largest interchange in the world at the time (connecting Interstates 70 and 77) rendered Cambridge’s busy main street a sleepier place but one insulated from the off-ramp culture the interstate system spawned. Today Cambridge’s historic downtown has undergone a remarkable revitalization, and this town of 11,000 is an American jewel. Cambridge celebrates the heritage of this town and offers glimpses into the lives, labor, and leisure of its residents.

William Kerrigan is associate professor and chair of the Department of History at Muskingum College. The chapter authors of the book are history majors at Muskingum College: Allison Avolio, Rebecka Hackett, Jason Mattern, Michelle Moore, and Alicia Seng.