Published: November 5th 2009November 5th 2009
There are times when you just gotta get out and drive. Here's a day trip through central Virginia.
THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED…AND SOMETIMES LOST
Three Chopped, Three Chopt, Three Notch, Three Notch’d. All separate yet one in the same. These are the
names for the road that began as an indian trail stretching from Powhatan’s village, east of Richmond, all
the way to the Shenandoah Valley. The name is believed to have originated because of the three notches
carved into trees that marked the original trail. Then it was a meandering path through the hardwood
forest. Today parts of it are six lanes of asphalt flanked by huge commercial developments. US250 closely
follows the original road from Richmond to Staunton.
Yet parts of the original road can still be seen in spots west of Richmond where there are traces of the
ancient wagon road. Today the remnants of the road begin at Cary Street near the University of Richmond
campus. Stately mansions line the road which twists and turns as you leave Richmond. When you reach
the Richmond suburbs and super malls near Short Pump it disappears. Head west on US250 and it re-
appears near Centerville. Then for the next thirty miles it meanders back and forth across US250. Here
you get a feel for what the Virginia countryside must have looked like several hundred years ago. You see
horse farms, plantation houses with long driveways, and roadside produce stands. As you approach
Charlottesville the scenery is familiar with suburbs and shopping malls however, as you near downtown,
parts of West Main Street and University Avenue follow the original route. The road takes you back into
time. You feel the excitement of the colonial town as Jack Jouett arrived on his horse to warn Governor
Thomas Jefferson and the Virginia legislature of the advancing British troops. When you drive by the
University of Virginia it’s easy to imagine walking across the campus with Edgar Allen Poe in 1826. Leaving
Charlottesville you climb towards the Blue Ridge Mountains crossing the Appalachian Trail at Rockfish Gap.
At the Afton Overlook stop and take in the spectacular view from the top of the mountain. The descent
into the Shenandoah Valley takes you through the historical town of Waynesboro. Named in 1797 after
General “Mad” Anthony Wayne, Waynesboro is home to the P. Buckley Moss Museum and the
Shenandoah Valley Art Center. From here it’s a short drive to the end of the road at Staunton, birthplace
of President Woodrow Wilson.
Historical points of interest, breathtaking views and scenery, and special shopping experiences line the
old road from Richmond to Staunton. Lafayette, Cornwallis, Washington, Jefferson and Robert E. Lee
traveled this same path. Their trip took weeks, yours will take a day.