From Indian Path to Highway E-50


Historical Marker Text
In 1664, a colonial road here probably followed the trace of an old Indian path. Two years later, the road was extended to Aquia Creek. It became a post road in 1750, and in Sept. 1781 Gen. George Washington passed over it on the march to Yorktown. By 1900, a crude dirt road followed this route. The 1914 American Automobile Association Blue Book described it as mostly “very poor and dangerous; should not be attempted except in dry weather.” By 1925, auto camps and cabins, the predecessors of auto courts and motels, stood at frequent intervals along present-day U.S. Route 1 between Washington, D.C., and Richmond. [1998]

Extended Research
U.S. Route 1 originated as an Indian path that Virginians later followed and made into a main transit road north to south from Aquia Creek to around present-day Fredericksburg. In the beginning of the 1900s, Route 1 went by the name Richmond-Washington Highway.

The US General Assembly approved the establishment of the first state highway system in 1918. At this time the Richmond- Washington Highway was a muddy and bumpy ride. In 1918, the road was mainly gravel and dirt except for a small section near Alexandria which was made up of concrete. As with most gravel roads of the time, traveling was dangerous and slow, especially in foul weather. Route 1 was fully paved in 1927 (A History 27).

Interstate 95 was built to lessen the flow of traffic on Route 1, which during the 1950s was a main transit route. The first section of Interstate 95, bypassing Emporia, was completed and opened on September 8, 1959 (A History 29).

U.S. Route 1 is still functioning today and is a crucial road in and out of Fredericksburg. Needless to say, the highway maintenance and techniques have been adapted over the years and U.S. Route 1 is much safer and more convenient than it was during its humble beginnings as an Indian path.

Photo Credits
Historical Marker Database, “From Indian Path to Highway Marker,” (accessed April 10, 2008).

For Further Reference
A History of Roads in Virginia: “The Most Convenient Wayes.” Richmond, VA: Virginia Department of Transportation, 2006.

Pawlett, Nathaniel Mason. “A Guide to the Preparation of County Roads Histories.” Charlottesville, VA: Virginia Highway and Transportation Research Council, 1979.—— “Early Road Location: The Key to Discovering Historic Resources.” Charlottesville, VA: Virginia Highway and Transportation Research Council, 1980.

Department of Historic Resources map and directions


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