“County court records relating to roads and transportation are collectively know as “road orders.” The Virginia Transportation Research Council’s published volumes of road orders and related materials contain not only information on early roads, but also the names of inhabitants who lived and worked along the roadways, plantations, farms, landmarks, landforms, and bodies of water. Much of this information is found nowhere else in early records, making these publications invaluable not only to historical and cultural resources research, but also to other disciplines, including social history, preservation planning, environmental science, and genealogy.”
A Brief History of Roads in Virginia 1607-1840 is the result of a larger study into the history of road construction and development in the various counties of Virginia. This book represents what was to be the introduction to a larger work on the county of Albemarle. With the input of other, the author realized the value of this brief history to all interested in the early development of roads across the state. This historical sketch is intended to provide insight to the development of all Virginian roads, up to the time of heavy railroad development in the nineteenth century, while also providing understanding of the various forces which shaped transportation policy at the colonial, and following, state level.
A map book I review a few months ago, An Atlas of Appalachian Trails to the Ohio River, by Carrie Eldridge, shows the location of little known trails as well as the major routes which passed through Virginia during the early expansion years. Along these routes grew towns and communities. Only four major routes crossed the Appalachians from the eastern seaboard to the Ohio River. But, the area spread out along minor routes and eventually many of the major and minor routes became state and interstate highways. A Brief History of Roads in Virginia provides additional insight to this development; including, the legislation and thinking that was behind continued improvements and development.
Establishing and maintaining public roads was important business. Choosing between roads and canals, selecting overseers to keep roads in repair, and managing budgets was of great importance to everyone. The history of road development is probably far more important to the country’s overall history than most give it credit for. This brief look into this small subsection of American history opens windows of thought and perspective into the lives of early Americans.
The Colonial Period 1607-1776
Groping for a Solution 1783-1816
The Board of Public Works 1816-1827
The Board of Public Works: The Golden Years 1827-1840
A Brief History of Roads in Virginia 1607-1840 is available from Family Roots Publishing; Item #: HBV3674, Price: $16.17.