The earliest written account of travel along what would eventually become Route 40 is that of Augustine Herman (born 1605), an envoy traveling from the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam to the governor of Maryland. Herman is of great historical note as he is believed to be the very first Czech immigrant to America.
Herman's journey began on September 20, 1659, and cut across the narrow land separating the waters of the Delaware River from those of the Chesapeake Bay. The path they followed was just north of the current alignment of Route 40 - probably closer to the old post road that runs between New Castle, Delaware and Elkton, Maryland.
Herman, who traveled on foot, reached the Chesapeake Bay after a few hours. There, he boarded a boat bound for Annapolis.
In all likelihood, Herman's party did not blaze the trail west from New Castle. Earlier parties including Delaware Indians and game had worn trails into and through the woods.
In an exchange for land (now known as Bohemia Manor on Bohemia River in Maryland), Herman produced one of the first detailed maps of the Chesapeake Bay. His map of 1763 is considered to be one of the most important land maps of its time and was often copied by other cartographers.
Later, Herman built a cart road from New Castle to Frenchtown in Maryland and for a while it enjoyed great use. When another road provided a continuous land route to Baltimore and other Maryland settlements, Herman's road fell into disuse. Herman also proposed that a canal be constructed connecting the waters of the Delaware with the Chesapeake Bay.
In 1686, Herman died at Bohemia Manor where he is buried.
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Last updated: 2011-12-12 19:04:58