Gainesville--Haymarket-The Plains-Marshall-Front Royal; 39.4 M. State 55 (also Skyline Drive).
Asphalt roadbed throughout. Southern Ry. parallels route. Accommodations include tourist camps, tourist homes, and hotels in Front Royal.
State 55 links US 29 with the northern entrance of the Skyline Drive. It crosses the small Bull Run Mountains, travels along a rolling plateau, climbs the Blue Ridge Mountains, and drops into the Shenandoah Valley, following Colonial roads that later were parts of the Manassas Gap Turnpike, constructed in 1811, and the Thorofare Gap Turnpike, opened in 1812. The raising of hunting horses and beef cattle, dairying, apple culture, and general farming are the profitable pursuits of the landowners.
HAYMARKET, 2 m. (337 alt., 167 pop.), a score of neat houses and several general stores, was called in Colonial days Red House, for a tavern here. Federal troops burned all the buildings of the village except a church and two houses.
ST. PAUL'S CHURCH, a rectangular brick building with a sheet metal and wood addition and a belfry, was erected in 1799 as a county district courthouse. In 1807 it became a school; in 1830 it was remodeled and made a church; during the War between the States it served as hospital, barracks, and stable; after 1867 it became a church again.
Right from Haymarket on County 625 to WAVERLY (L), 2.1 m., a large gabled roof house of brick built about 184o by Frederick Foote. The carved interior trim is well preserved.
CHAPMAN'S MILL (R), 6.5 tn., a six-story stone building erected in 1742 by one Jonathan Chapman, is still in use.
THOROUGHFARE GAP, 6.8 m. (399 alt.), in the Bull Run Mountains, was a gateway to the west. Through this opening in August 1862 the troops of 'Stonewall' Jackson came in their march around General John Pope's army in the Second Battle of Manassas (see Tour 4).
MARSHALL, 16.3 m. (630 alt., 550 POP.), stretching along the highway for nearly a mile, is an important shopping center. On Saturdays the highway here is lined with automobiles. Sunday mornings even larger crowds assemble when services are held at the four churches. Marshall has a grain elevator, a stock sales ring, a cannery, fair grounds, and a polo field. The town was established in 1796 as Salem.
The railroad through Marshall, chartered as the Manassas Gap Railroad in 1850, was organized by local farmers to carry produce east. Federals controlled the line after 1863, but its tracks were repeatedly torn up by the Confederates.
Colonel Henry Dixon was the only man in Fauquier County who voted for Abraham Lincoln in 186o. He carried, it is said, a pistol in one hand and ballot in the other. After the war, sadly enough, Colonel Dixon was killed in a gun fight in the streets of Alexandria.
At 16.7 m. is a junction with County 721.
Left here to County 719, 0.5 m.; L. to VALLEY MILLS, 1.8 m., a stone gristmill erected about 1770 and still used. Huge hand-hewn oak beams, studding, and joists, fastened with wood pins, are well preserved. The top floor has been reconstructed, and the wooden wheel has been replaced. The mill is on the northeastern edge of the vast country once part of the great Fairfax proprietorship (see Tour 5a) and known as the Free State. Litigation over these acres culminated in the U.S. Supreme Court decision handed down in the case of Hunter v. Fairfax's devisees, that the U.S. Supreme Court had the right to set aside decisions of the state supreme courts.
OAK HILL (R), 20.1 m., is a little house of brick stuccoed creamy white. A flat-roofed portico with six Doric columns extends across the lower half of the two story facade. This house was built in 1818 by John Marshall (see Tour 1a, and Richmond). Near by stands the small brick house erected by Thomas Marshall, father of John, in 1773.
At 21.4 m. is a junction with County 671.
Right here to YEW HILL (L), 0.1 tn., a small frame structure, with a steep-pitched gabled roof, and dormers, erected about 1743 by Robert Ashby (1710-92), greatgrandfather of General Turner Ashby, Confederate cavalry leader. As a tavern called the Kitty Shacklett House the place enjoyed a wide reputation.
At 21.9 m. on State 55 is a junction with County 731-
Left here to COOL SPRING CHURCH, 0.2 m., a rectangular red brick, gabled-roof building, now housing a Methodist congregation. It was erected in 1858 on the site of an Episcopal church, built about 1780. The first minister here was the Reverend James Thompson, who tutored Thomas Marshall's children.
MARKHAM, 25.7 m. (552 alt., 150 pop.), a shipping point for apples, lies at the eastern end of Manassas Gap and is flanked (R) by NAKED MOUNTAIN (1,400 alt.) and (L) by RED OAK MOUNTAIN (1,200 alt.).
ROSEBANK (R), birthplace of Confederate General Turner Ashby (1828-62), is a frame building on a knoll. Here were born Captain James Green Ashby and Captain Richard Ashby, brothers of Turner Ashby.
THE HOLLOW (R), a four-room brick and frame dwelling just behind Rosebank, was erected in 1764 by Thomas Marshall.
WOLF'S CRAG (L), a square brick-and-stucco house with a frame addition is on a steep hill. It was purchased by Turner Ashby in 1853. Here Ashby organized a troop of horsemen, known as the 'Mountain Rangers,' to control men working on the Manassas Gap railroad and troubling farmers near by. In 1859 he and his troops were assigned to picket duty during the John Brown insurrection at Harpers Ferry.
MANASSAS GAP, 30 m. (950 alt.), the lowest pass in the Blue Ridge was early an important gateway through the range. John Lederer is believed to have used it in 1670. George Washington and John Wood surveyed it in 1761. It is flanked (L) by HIGH KNOB (2,385 alt.).
At 38.6 m. is a junction with State 3.
Left on this road to the U.S. ARMY REMOUNT STATION, 2.2 m., one of three breeding and training stations maintained by the army and the headquarters of a purchasing board that supplies mounts to the entire eastern area. In retirement here are Jeff and Kidron, mounts used by General John J. Pershing. Here also is the trick horse Solomon Levi. Other horses on the reservation include the 'royal family'--Lady Lou, her two sons, and three daughters-animals with one of the best blood strains in the army. An average of 50 colts are foaled here annually.
At 38.9 m. is the entrance to SKYLINE DRIVE (adm. 25 cents).
Left on this route (speed limit 35 miles an hour; picknicking facilities, campsites, restaurants) through the SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK, established in 1935, an irregular strip, one to 13 miles wide along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Its acres-the very heart of the mountains-are precipitous and almost entirely forestcovered. The wide, paved road follows the older Appalachian Trail most of the way along the crest of the ridge, with an average elevation of more than 3,000 feet, and often higher. The trail has been rerouted but is accessible from the highway. The route affords a continuous series of magnificent views over steep, wooded ravines and occasional rocky crags to the rolling Piedmont Plateau on the east and across the fertile farmland of the Shenandoah Valley to the Alleghenies on the west.
In PANORAMA (Thornton Gap), 32.1 m. (2,304 alt.) (restaurant, lodgings), is a junction with US 211 (see Tour 22). Each season brings its own beauty to this wild, elevated world. The winter-dark forest is brightened in spring by dogwood breaking into bloom everywhere, like thin puffs of steam. Later rhododendron and mountain laurel flood the sheltered hillsides with pink and white. Summer pours warm sunlight from clear skies onto the peaks and into the valleys, where streams splash down over rocky beds and falls, and often, especially in the early morning, onto clouds covering the lowlands far below. Autumn tints the leaves of every tree but the evergreen and intensifies the blue haze ever-present along the ridge. The clear air of Indian summer becomes even clearer with winter, and then snow blankets the upper slopes intermittently until another late spring. The entrance (R) to SKYLAND (cabins and cottages, restaurant, horses for hire) 42.1 in., is near the crest of STONY MAN MOUNTAIN (4010 alt.), from which many miles of bridle paths and hiking trails wind in many directions.
From HAWKSBILL GAP (3,36 1 alt.), 45.8 m., a three-mile trail leads to the summit of HAWKSBILL MOUNTAIN (4,049 alt.), the highest peak in the Shenandoah Park.
At BIG MEADOWS, 51.1 m. (restaurant, cabins, lodgings), high on the ridge, President Roosevelt dedicated the Skyline Drive, July 3, 1936.
SWIFT RUN GAP, 66.1 m. (2,349 alt.) (restaurant, tavern, and cottages), is at a junction with US 33 (see Tour 9).