Turnpikes of Virginia

Stone Bridge over Bull Run, built originally for Alexandria-Warrenton Turnpike
Stone Bridge over Bull Run, built originally for Alexandria-Warrenton Turnpike

Little River Turnpike (Route 236 from Alexandria to Jermantown near the City of Fairfax, and then US 50 west to the Bull Run Mountains) is often credited with being the second turnpike in America.

The first turnpike was in Pennsylvania - but it's not what we today call the Pennsylvania Turnpike. It's PA Route 340 today, the highway from Philadelphia west to Lancaster. The historic Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike is a "free" road now - there are no tolls now, and no pikes (poles) to turn and allow travellers to continue after paying the toll.

It was a farm-to-market road, bringing food from the limestone farm country on Pennsylvania to the big city. If you see laid-back, take-it-easy advertisements for Turkey Hill ice cream... that product is made in Lancaster. "Rush hour" at Turkey Hill is portrayed as two kids walking without a care on a country road, providing an obvious contrast to the Beltway lifestyle here.

The Amish are still a major presence there, as shown in the movie "Witness." Their horse-drawn carriages ride on the wide shoulders of the highway, but their crops are still shipped to the city on the old turnpike. [NOTE: The Pennsylvania Turnpike was built a little further north of PA Route 340, partially on the bed of an unfinished railroad.]

Second-Worst Decision of the State of Virginia?

Columbia Pike

Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike

The Valley Turnpike

Goose Creek Bridge, built 1802 on Ashby's Gap Turnpike
Goose Creek Bridge, built 1802 on Ashby's Gap Turnpike

in 1861, plank roads as well as railroads allowed Southside farmers to get crops to market
in 1861, plank roads as well as railroads allowed Southside farmers to get crops to market
Source: Library of Congress, Colton's new topographical map of the eastern portion of the state of North Carolina with part of Virginia & South Carolina (by Joseph H. Colton, 1861)

Links

Columbia Pike was constructed to divert traffic on the Little River Turnike, so the District of Columbia could intercept traffic headed to Alexandria
Columbia Pike was constructed to divert traffic on the Little River Turnike, so the District of Columbia could intercept traffic headed to Alexandria
Source: Library of Congress, Atlas of fifteen miles around Washington (by G. M. Hopkins)


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