The Roads of Virginia, 1607-1840

Roberts, Edward Graham, Cocoran Department of History, University of Virginia
Abernethy, Thomas Perkins, Cocoran Department of History, Unversity of Virginia
Hutchinson, C. A., University of Virginia

This study has two aims: (1) to map the roads of Virginia in their various periods of growth from 1607 to 1840; and (2) to outline the evolution of the administrative system under which the roads were constructed and maintained. Greater emphasis was placed on the first aim and fundamentally this is a map study. It has been my endeavor to examine every map of Virginia, manuscript or published, issued between 1600 and 1860. While many maps could be discarded immediately as useless to my purposes, hundreds of others remained which had to be studied, transcribed, assimilated and the information pertaining to roads transferred to a series of modern base maps of the states of Virginia and West Virginia. These maps, fifteen in number, form the core of this study and constitute its second part.

Part I, a chronological outline of the developing road system, is largely an administrative study. The chief approach was through the statutes and other official records of the colony and state. Political, economic, technical, and geographic factors are considered only as they introduced changes in administrative methods and techniques. For these four factors I have relied greatly on secondary sources. Chapter I is an introductory outline of the transportation needs and problems of the colony and state during tine course of its development. In Chapter II the administration of the rapidly expanding network of roads in colonial Virginia is outlined, Chapter III continues the story through the experimental years between 1782 and 1812. These three decades were filled with unceasing ferment and agitation on the transportation scene largely as a result of the rapid expansion westward and the introduction of steam power as & means of locomotion. Comprehensive planning in the fields of highway administration and internal improvements had become a necessity. In Chapter IV the inception and early years of the Board of Public Works of Virginia is treated. The concluding chapter carries the development of this state-sponsored drive for a comprehensive system of internal improvements up to 1840. This date was chosen as a terminal point because the state after the depression years of 1837-39 shifted its primary internal improvements efforts from turnpikes and canals to railroads.

Part II consists of a series of fifteen maps which delineate in chronological order the evolution of the trails, highways, turnpikes, post and stage roads, canals and railroads between 1607 and 1840. Each map is accompanied by an essay which discusses the chronological development of the roads and the sources from which the map was compiled.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Roads -- Virginia

Digitization of this thesis was made possible by a generous grant from the Jefferson Trust, 2015.

Thesis originally deposited on 2016-03-17 in version 1.28 of Libra. This thesis was migrated to Libra2 on 2017-03-23 16:36:13.

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