Release from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources:
RICHMOND – A state historical marker issued by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources that highlights the onetime Blue Ridge Turnpike, a 56-mile route completed in 1853 to link the central Shenandoah Valley region with a railroad in Gordonsville, will be dedicated this weekend in Madison County.
The dedication and marker unveiling ceremony begins at 12 noon, Saturday, June 17, at the marker’s location in Madison County near the entrance to Criglersville Elementary School and along a pathway of the historic turnpike now incorporated into today’s State Route 670, also known as Old Blue Ridge Turnpike.
Speakers during the ceremony will include Maxwell Lacy Jr., president of the Madison County Historical Society; Ann Miller, a senior research historian with the Virginia Transportation Research Council; and Dr. Jennifer Loux of Virginia’s Department of Historic Resources.
“Crossing the mountains at Fishers Gap,” the historical marker reads, “[Blue Ridge Turnpike] linked the Shenandoah Valley to markets in the east.”
Costing $176,000, the turnpike was financed by a company that sold shares of stock in the venture “to individuals and to the Commonwealth of Virginia.” During the Civil War the road was heavily damaged, after which the turnpike company abandoned it, at which point counties took over maintenance of the roadway about 1870.
In addition to Route 670, the historic road also has been incorporated into State Route 231 and within Shenandoah National Park.
The marker was approved in 2016 for manufacture and installation by the Virginia Board of Historic Resources, which has the authority to approve new highway markers. The manufacturing costs of the marker have been covered by its sponsor, the Madison County Historical Society.
Virginia’s historical highway marker program, which began in 1927 with the installation of the first historical markers along U.S. Route 1, is considered the oldest such program in the nation. Currently there are more than 2,500 official state markers, most maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation, as well as by local partners in jurisdictions outside of VDOT’s authority.
Text of marker:
Blue Ridge Turnpike
The Blue Ridge Turnpike, completed in 1853, passed near here on its 56-mile route from the vicinity of New Market to the railhead in Gordonsville. Crossing the mountains at Fishers Gap, the road linked the Shenandoah Valley to markets in the east. The Blue Ridge Turnpike Company financed the $176,000 project by selling shares of stock to individuals and to the Commonwealth of Virginia. After the road sustained heavy damage during the Civil War, the company abandoned it. Counties along the route took over maintenance about 1870. Traces of the original alignment exist along State Routes 231 and 670 and within Shenandoah National Park.