Old Northwestern Turnpike
The Northwestern Turnpike (State Route No. 1). We find the following description of the Northwestern Turnpike in Dr. J. M. Callahan's Semi-Centennial History of West Virginia, pages 106-9, published in 1913:
"The old Northwestern Turnpike, extending from Winchester, Virginia, on a general westward course to Parkersburg on the Ohio, is a historic highway which deserves more mention than it has ever received as a factor related to the American westward movement and to the problem of communication between East and West. It was the inevitable result of the call of the West and the need of a Virginia state road. More information about the turnpike here and here
An Inscription on Capon Bridge in Hampshire County, West Virginia marker states. "In 1784, Washington proposed the Northwestern Turnpike as an all-Virginia route to the Ohio. Authorized in 1827 and started in 1831, it remains a monument to the skill of its engineers, Charles Shaw and Colonel Claudius Crozet".
The chosen route was through Hampshire, Mineral, Grant, Garrett, Preston, Taylor, Harrison, Doddridge, Ritchie, and Wood Counties- all in West Virginia except Garrett which is in Maryland. In Hampshire County it was established via Capon Bridge, Hanging Rock, Pleasant Dale, and Augusta to Romney, west of which it crossed the South Branch. Through Mineral it passed via Burlington, thence westward across Patterson Creek, and through Ridgeville on the divide to New Creek which it crossed at Rees' tannery. Then turning toward the southwest, it crossed the North Branch of the Potomac southwest of the present town of Germania and entered the southwest corner of Maryland through which it passed for eight and three-fourths miles, crossing the Alleghenies and emerging into Preston east of the German settlement (later known as Aurora). It passed across the picturesque Cheat Valley considerably south of Rowlesburg, and via Fellowsville, Evansville, Thornton, Grafton, Pruntytown, and Bridgeport to Clarksburg, thence over the summit via the head of Ten Mile Creek to Salem, thence across Middle Island Creek at West Union and via Tollgate, Pennsboro, Ellenboro (earlier Shumley), the head of Goose Creek, and Murphytown, to Parkersburg. Started in 1831 it reached Cumberland by 1845, Grafton in 1852, and Parkersburg in 1857. Today much of the Turnpike is now U S Route 50.
Records of the people, business and lives changed by the Old Northwest Turnpike may be found in the records of the counties it traveled through:
- Garrett County, Maryland
- Doddridge County, West Virginia
- Grant County, West Virginia
- Hampshire County, West Virginia
- Harrison County, West Virginia
- Mineral County, West Virginia
- Preston County, West Virginia
- Ritchie County, West Virginia
- Taylor County, West Virginia
- Wood County, West Virginia