Kennon Road connects Baguio City with the town of Rosario, La Union in the Philippines. It was originally called the Benguet Road and was later named in honor of its builder, Col. Lyman Kennon of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Coming from Manila or the provinces in the central plains of Luzon, it is the shortest route up to Baguio. Although Kennon is the shortest of the three major access roads, travel time is just as long as through the other two because of poor road conditions.
It usually takes an experienced commuter from 50 minutes to an hour to negotiate the 41.2-kilometer steep and winding climb by car. The upward climb reveals a picturesque view of the mountains, lush vegetation, and pine trees as you get closer to Baguio. A mountain river flows along a rocky canyon from the lofty heights, and following this course the road was cut above the river bed.
Kennon is a toll road and the tollgate is located about 2.5 kilometers from the junction at Rosario. The original road was a[macadam Thomas Telford|telford-type road which was in the following years constructed into an all-weather asphalt roadway. Lately, some portions of Kennon Road have been replaced with concrete pavements. There are small settlements along the road, known as Camp 1 to 6 which were originally established by the original builders of the road.
Unknown to many is the fact that its initial construction way back in 1903 was cutting across the mountains of Benguet with the combined efforts of Filipinos, United States|Americans and Japanese people|Japanese nationals. Aside from Filipino engineers and U.S. Army Engineers headed by Col. Lyman Kennon, one thousand five hundred Japanese immigrant workers persevered to accomplish the difficult road project. The Japanese workers contributed substantially in the construction effort until its completion in 1905. To carve out the road against river canyon walls, five hundred Japanese workers died while engaged in the project. By ratio, the toll of one Japanese life was sacrificed for every ninety meters of the road length.