Valley Pike

Valley Pike

Valley Pike or Valley Turnpike is the traditional name given for the Indian trail and roadway which now is designated as U.S. Highway 11 in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

Long before the arrival of English colonists, Native Americans of the Delaware and Catawba tribes used this well-watered path as a migratory route and hunting grounds, moving between what is now Georgia and Canada. Beginning in the 1730s, Scots-Irish and German immigrants coming from Pennsylvania began to move up the valley and establish settlements. They initially called it the "Indian Road" and by 1825, it was known as the "Great Wagon Road."

On March 3, 1834, The Valley Turnpike Company was incorporated by an act of the Virginia General Assembly, and the state participated in the public-private venture through the Virginia Board of Public Works with a 40% investment to build 68 miles between Winchester and Harrisonburg. A similar road from Harrisonburg to Staunton was built by another company, and they merged. The new combined road, by then known as the "Valley Pike", was significantly improved and tolls were charged for the upkeep of its 93 mile length.

The Valley Pike was a key transportation link during the American Civil War, and was used by Confederate General Stonewall Jackson to expedite his foot cavalry up and down the Valley and to and from the various mountain gaps (such as Swift Run Gap and Thornton Gap) which he used to make sudden appearances in front of Union troops in the Piedmont region on the east side of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

In 1918, The Valley Turnpike Company, which had been managed by a young Harry Flood Byrd, allowed the Valley Turnpike to be one of the first roads taken over by the state. It was designated as part of State Route 3, one of the routes of the state highway system managed by the State Highway Commisson.

The Valley Turnpike was given the U.S. Route 11 designation in 1926, and remained the major north-south highway thoroughfare for the Shenandoah Valley until Interstate 81 was built beginning in the 1960s. Today, the road carries much local traffic, and provides an alternative to the busy Interstate Highway.

ee also

* Winchester and Martinsburg Turnpike, Winchester north to Martinsburg
* Junction Valley Turnpike, Staunton south to Buchanan
* Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike, Staunton west to Parkersburg on the Ohio River


* [ Winchester Star Millennium Legacy article "The Road Most Traveled Drove Economy, Heritage" January 1, 2000]
* [ Virginia Highways Project website]
* [ Roads to the Future] Scott Kozel's very detailed Highway and Transportation History website with lots of information and maps of Virginia's highway system
* [ The Valley Turnpike] an historical article by Don Silvius
* [ Virginia Places website] about Virginia's Geography

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