Lesson Plan

Traveling the National Road - Unit 3: Travelers and Transportation on the National Road

Painting of a stagecoach and a Conestoga wagon on a National Road bridge
Stagecoach and Conestoga wagon on a National Road bridge

American Canal and Transportation Center

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Grade Level:
Second Grade-Fourth Grade
Commerce and Industry, Economics, Geography, Immigration, Transportation, Westward Expansion
45 – 90 minutes
Group Size:
Up to 36
National/State Standards:
National Standards for History: K-4 Standard 1, 2, 3, 5, 8. Curriculum Standards for Social Studies: II, VII, VIII. Common Core: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.3, 3.2, 3.7, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.3.4, 3.6, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.3.1.


In “Traveling the National Road (Travelers and Transportation on the National Road)” students will learn about Conestoga wagons, stagecoaches, drovers and emigrants.

The “Traveling the National Road” teacher’s guide is broken into ten units and is targeted for 3rd grade students.  This is unit 3 and contains teacher background, two student readings and three activities.


Guiding Question: What kinds of vehicles were used on the National Road? What did Conestoga wagons and stagecoaches look like? What was it like to travel the National Road as you moved to a new home?


Critical Content: Stagecoaches and Conestoga wagons were the main vehicles on the National Road and both were brightly colored. People also walked along the road. Many emigrants used the National Road to move to new homes in Ohio and further west.


Student objectives: Students will…

·        List three means of transportation used on the road

·        Describe how the Conestoga wagon and the stagecoach operated

·        Color a stagecoach or a Conestoga wagon so they look like they would have when they traveled the National Road

·        Describe three travelers tools

·        Describe a typical day for an emigrant

·        List two hardships the emigrants encountered



The "Traveling the National Road" teacher's guide is broken into ten units and is targeted for 3rd grade students. Each unit can be completed independently. Units 1 - 6 each have teacher background, a student reading and two student activities. Unit 7 has fourteen biography cards of people associated with the National Road along with two student activities. Unit 8 has fourteen occupation cards of jobs that were associated with the National Road along with three student activities. Unit 9 discusses seven historic sites in Pennsylvania associated with the National Road. Unit 10 has other activities and an appendix. Additionally there are two posters: one is a map of the National Road and the other is a list of the historic tolls.


Check out the other units:


Unit 1: Overview of the National Road

Unit 2: Construction of the National Road

Unit 3: Travelers and Transportation on the National Road

Unit 4: Accommodation on the National Road

Unit 5: Workers Along the National Road

Unit 6: Decline and Rebirth of the National Road

Unit 7: Biography Cards

Unit 8: Occupation Cards

Unit 9: Historic Site Cards

Unit 10: Other Activities and Appendix


The teacher's guide is also available free on a CD or as a printed version in a three ring binder. Please email us if you would like to receive the teacher's guide in one of these formats.


Unit 3: Travelers and Transportation on the National Road. This unit is a 20 page long pdf covering the types of transportation (stagecoach, Conestoga wagon, on foot), what the vehicles looked like, and what it was like to be an emigrant moving to Ohio.


Park Connections

This lesson relates to the Mount Washington Tavern located in the main unit of Fort Necessity National Battlefield. The tavern was a 1830s stagecoach stop along the National Road and is now a furnished museum. It tells the story of travelers, transportation and accommodations along the road. This lesson will help students prepare for the "Travelers and Workers Along the National Road" field trip.

Additional Resources

Map of the National Road

Toll Rates

National Road Timeline


National Road, Conestoga wagon, stagecoach, emigrant

Last updated: December 19, 2015