Historic Designation

The 300 Mile Museum

America’s Routes Seeks Historic Designation for Loudoun’s Rural Routes

Greengarden Road
The bridge over Panther Skin Creek on Greengarden Road in Western Loudoun County. The old bridge from 1910 that was mass produced for the first automobiles and built by Luten Bridge Co. in York Pa. (Photo By Douglas Graham/WLP)

Having Loudoun’s rural roads be determined by the state as eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places would officially honor their historic significance (which spans three centuries) and distinctive character. It would recognize these roads as the “living museum” they are, following travel patterns that began with Native Americans and endured through centuries of migration, wars, and the revolutionary age of the automobile.

America’s Routes team member Jane Covington is leading this effort. Over the coming year, Covington will personally drive and walk every unpaved road in Loudoun County, documenting each distinctive physical feature (in photos and words), and tie those features to the rich cache of detailed and original documents in the Loudoun County Circuit Court archives. Her work will marry what every visitor can see on our roads with the historic evidence of their place in our history (and that of the nation), as told first-hand by those who built and used the roads in the centuries before us.

One of the most significant documents from which Covington will work is the Yardley Taylor map of Loudoun County, drawn in 1853. This highly detailed map of the County identified hundreds of owners or occupiers of residences and 77 water-powered mills, and noted the denomination for each house of worship. The details of this map provided useful guidance to commanders in the Civil War, and the roads it delineated are remarkably  unchanged from those in use today in the rural areas of the County. (Library of Congress)


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