Richmond-Louisa-Gordonsvifle-Stanardsville-Harrisonburg-(Franklin,W.Va.). US 33.
Richmond to West Virginia Line, 144 m.
Asphalt-paved roadbed throughout. The Chesapeake & Ohio Ry. parallels route between Richmond and Gordonsville. Accommodations in towns; few tourist homes and camps.
The eastern half of US 33 passes through country that produces food and forage crops and dark tobacco; westward are apple orchards, pastures, and grain fields. Yet farther westward the highway climbs the mountains, drops into the valley, and climbs again into the mountains.
US 33 runs west from Capitol Square in RICHMOND, 0 m., on Broad Street, in union with US 250 (see Tour 17a) to a junction at 4.8 m., where US 33 turns R. from US 250.
STAPLES MILL (L), 6.2 m., a plain clapboarded structure beside a stone dam, is typical of early Virginia grist mills.
LAUREL GOLF COURSE (L), 9.6 m., is a public links (see Richmond). At 18.9 m. is a junction with County 670.
Left here to County 675, 1.8 m., and R. to the RUINS OF AUBURN MILL (L), 2.9 m., a large structure built before 1750 of local rock, 'laid dry'-that is, without mortar. After the walls were finished the outside cracks were 'pointed' or fined with plaster. Auburn shipped its product to a wide market. The loss of a cargo of flour that went down with a sailing ship bound for the Argentine led indirectly to the failure of its owner, Michiah Crew. During the War between the States the mill manufactured bayonets, sabers, and cutlasses.
At 24.9 m. on US 33 is a junction with County 657.
Right here to CEDAR CREEK, 1 m., near the SITE OF CEDAR CREEK MEETINGHOUSE, from which the Friends' influence spread westward as early as 1746.
MONTPELIER, 26.7 m., a few houses, stores, and a post office, is in an area where are found rutile crystals, often called 'venus-hair stones' or 'love's-arrows' and ranging in size from small grains to masses weighing 20 pounds. One of the three crystal forms of the element titanium, rutile is, curiously, black by reflected light and deep red by transmitted light.
In the forks of the road at 43.3 m. is the SITE OF CUCKOO TAVERN, from which Jack Jouette, the son of the proprietor, began his ride on the night of June 3, 1781, to warn Thomas Jefferson at Monticello and the Virginia assembly in Charlottesville of the approaching British dragoons under Colonel Tarleton. Jouette had learned of their mission while the British rested here. In gratitude for his warning, the assembly voted' . . .to present Captain John Jouette an elegant sword and a pair of pistols as a memorial of the high sense which the General Assembly entertains for his activity and enterprise . . . whereby the designs of the enemy were frustrated and many valuable stores preserved.'
Later, after Jouette moved to Kentucky, then a Virginia county, he served in the general assembly, where he sponsored a petition for the divorce of his brother-in-law, Lewis Robards, from Rachel Donelson (see Tour 4a), who was later Mrs. Andrew Jackson.
PENDLETON, 46.1 m. (69 pop.), is little more than a station on the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway. The Louisa Railroad, begun in 1836, was the first in this section. It reached Louisa in 1838 and Gordonsville in 184o and caused diversion of trade from Fredericksburg to Richmond. During the War between the States the line transported supplies to Richmond and iron to Confederate armament factories.
MINERAL, 47.4 m. (463 alt., 416 pop.), with scattered stores, houses, and sawmills, was once a shipping point for iron, mica, sulphur, and some gold. In 1848 Robert and Colonel James Hart, brothers, operated a furnace here that they called 'Rough and Ready' to honor Zachary Taylor. After the War between the States the demand for sulphur increased; and iron pyrites, found near by, was mined and smelted for that product. After 1900, operations in Louisiana caused a decline in profits here.
LOUISA, 53.6 m. (437 alt., 300 pop.), seat of Louisa County, has remained a placid 'courthouse' in spite of the modern stores that line the highway. The town's beginning was in 1742 when it became the seat of Louisa County, taken from Hanover in 1742 and named for Queen Louisa of Denmark, daughter of George II of England.
The LOUISA COUNTY COURTHOUSE, a white-pillared brick building on a green, was built in 1905.
It was as a member from Louisa that the 29-year-old Patrick Henry in May 1765 began his fight for the common man when he spoke against the 'loan office,' an instrument intended to cloak certain questionable loans made from the public treasury by John Robinson, Speaker of the House and Treasurer of the Colony (see Tour 1). Toward the end of this session when the House was in committee to consider the Greenville Stamp Act, Henry introduced his resolutions proposing 'That the General Assembly . . . have the only and sole exclusive right and power to lay taxes and impositions upon the inhabitants of this colony.' The startled members were brought to their feet when Henry cried, 'Caesar had his Brutus, Charles the First his Cromwell, and George the Third-' 'Treason, treason!' cried members of the assembly. Henry continued, ' . . . and George the Third may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it!'
Though cautioned against sleeping at Louisa Courthouse-with 'the worst lodging . . . in all America'-the Marquis de Chastellux, when traveling in Virginia after the Revolution, had 'a curiosity to judge of it by my own experience' and went in. 'This man, called Johnson, is become so monstrously fat, that he cannot move out of his armchair . . . A stool supported his enormous legs, in which were large fissures on each side, a prelude to what, must soon happen to his belly . . .'
During the Revolution and again during the War between the States Louisa lay in the path of hostile forces. Tarleton passed through in 1781; and on May 2, 1863, General George Stoneman's Union forces destroyed the railroad here. From the friendly side, however, came General Fitzhugh Lee, who camped near by on June 10, 1864, before the Battle of Trevilian.
A STONE MEMORIAL (R) at 60.4 m. commemorates the Battle of Trevilian Station, fought near here on June 11-12, 1864. As the Union army lay at Cold Harbor in June (see Tour 20a), Grant sent General Philip H. Sheridan with two cavalry divisions to cut Lee's communications and join General David Hunter, then advancing eastward from the Valley. General Wade Hampton overtook Sheridan here, and after a two-day battle turned him eastward.
At 64.4 m. is a junction with US 15 (see Tour 3c), which unites northward with US 33 for 5 miles. BOSWELL'S TAVERN (R), a story-and-a-half frame building with large end chimneys, was praised by the Marquis de Chastellux, though he said that the innkeeper, Colonel Boswell, 'a tall, stout Scotsman . . . appeared but little prepared to receive strangers.'
GORDONSVILLE, 69.3 m. (442 alt., 462 pop.), in an area of prosperous estates, is concentrated along a main street lined with comfortable homes on shaded lawns, and places of business that close at sunset, except on Saturday. Until a few years ago, Gordonsville to travelers meant fried chicken. When the train stopped, vendors of pullet done to a turn circulated among passengers, who purchased almost to a man. The village had its first growth as the western terminus of the Louisa Railroad. In 1855 the Orange & Alexandria established its terminus here. To reach these, two toll roads were constructed in the 1850's across the Blue Ridge.
Interest in blooded horses began early here. Before the middle of the nineteenth century, local breeders set up a training stable under the care of an English trainer and dubbed it 'Horse College.' Here was kept Voltaire, a renowed sire.
GORDON INN, a tan-colored frame building in two sections built by Nathaniel Gordon about 1787, became a stage stop.
In Gordonsville is the northern junction with US 15 (see Tour 3c).
MONTE BELLO (L), 73.2 m., is a frame house with a long porch. From the boxwood-covered lawn is a sweeping view of the Blue Ridge. According to one story (see Tour 10), Zachary Taylor, who became twelfth President of the United States, was born here on September 24, 1784.
BARBOURSVILLE, 75.2 m. (200 pop.), took its name from the home of Governor James Barbour (1775-1842) that once stood near by. Barbour, a conservative, was governor of Virginia (1812-14) and later United States senator.
BARBOURSVILLE RUINS stand at the end of a long oval 'green,' bordered half-around by tall box that halts opposite the entrance. Behind four Roman Doric columns, approached by steps of turf, rise ivy-covered brick walls, roofed only by the spreading branches of a large walnut tree that has grown up in the center. One of the old dependencies is the present house. Designs for the mansion were drawn by Jefferson about 1817, and construction began soon afterwards. Hospitality was dispensed here on a general scale until the mansion burned in 1884.
In Barboursville is a junction with State 20 (see Tour 10).
At RUCKERSVILLE, 82.3 m. (108 pop.), an old village, is a junction with US 29 (see Tour 4).
At 83.4 m. is a junction with County 644.
Wt here to RHEA HOUSE (L), 1.4 m., a small frame building below the highway, once the home of William Thurman, the founder of a religious sect called Thurmanites, who believed they knew the day the world would end. The date passed unchaotically, and the sect died out.
STANARDSVIELLE, 88.7 m. (350 pop.), seat of Greene County, is the largest settlement in a wide area of foothills. Along the western horizon flows the undulating line of the Blue Ridge.
The COURTHOUSE, a red brick building with a Doric portico and a cupola, was erected shortly after Greene County was cut from Orange County in 1838 and named for General Nathanael Greene. The COUNTY OFFICE BUILDING was completed in 1938.
West of Stanardsville the highway follows small Swift Run to the summit of SWIFT RUN GAP, 97.2 m. Here is a junction with the Skyline Drive (see Tour 4A). Through this gap Indians in 1716 guided Governor Alexander Spotswood and his merry gentlemen. Hoping to find a new pass westward, they started from Germanna (see Tour 3b), on August 29, 1716, well provisioned, especially with liquors of several kinds. At the slightest provocation, they drank the health of the king and the governor. They traveled westward, by easy stages, amusing themselves shooting deer, bear, turkeys, and snakes and making the expedition a pleasure trip. The party reached the top of the Blue Ridge September 5, drank the special toasts to the king and to Governor Spotswood, and named a peak for each. Riding into the Shenandoah Valley, they ceremoniously claimed the land west of the mountains for the king, then returned east. A short time after their return Governor Spotswood presented each member of the party with a jeweled miniature horseshoe of gold. The owners of these elaborate mementoes became the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe.
From the crest (2,400 alt.), US 33 drops into the Shenandoah Valley, following the course of Elk Run, to ELKTON, 104.2 m. (965 pop.), which hugs the slope at the edge of fertile river bottom lands. Prior to 1908 it was called Conrad's Store-a name that appears in war records. The Confederates burned the bridge across Elk Creek June 3, 1862, to keep Union forces under Shields from crossing to join Fremont against Jackson.
In Elkton is a junction with State 12 (see Tour 5A), which unites westward with US 33 for 8.6 miles.
The highway crosses the SHENANDOAH RIVER, 104.9 m. When Governor Spotswood's party camped by this river, they named it Euphrates. According to the diary of one of the members of the party, 'The Governor buried a bottle with a paper inclosed, on which he writ that he took possession of this place in the name and for King George the First of England . . . and we drank the king's health in champagne and fired a volley, the Princess's health in Burgundy, and fired a volley, and all the rest of the Royal Family in Claret, and fired a volley. We drank the Governor's health and fired a volley. We had several sorts of liquiors, viz; Virginia red wine, Irish usquebaugh, brandy shrub, two sorts of rum, champagne, canary, cherry punch, water cider, etc.'
McGAHEYSVILLE, 110.9 m. (400 pop.), is an old village lying under the Peaks of the Massanutten Mountain. Like other villages in the Blue Ridge country, at the beginning of the nineteenth century McGaheysville was a manufacturing center supplying local needs for clothes, shoes, hats, furniture, and wagons.
About 1809, George Rockingham Gilmer, a native of this region who was later Governor of Georgia, wrote of numerous excavations on the side of 'Peaked Mountain,' 'made by the neighboring Dutch people in search of hidden treasure.' Gilmer told of a young man who 'had a club foot and was made a tailor of, as fit for nothing else,' and who told the treasure seekers that 'in his travels through Ohio, he had seen a factory of spy glasses, which so added to the power of sight, that he could see several feet into the earth with one of them.' On his suggestion, the Dutch made up a purse to send him to Ohio for a glass. On his return, without the glass, he told sorrowfully that he had bought the glass, but had lost it; he added that the glasses had been so much improved that without doubt it would be possible to see entirely through Peaked Mountain. The eager fortune hunters made up another purse and the tailor left again. This time he did not return.
At 112.9 m. is the western junction with State 12 (see Tour 5A).
PEALE'S CROSSROADS, 115.9 m., also called Massanutten Crossroads, is at a junction with County 620. At the crossroads is MASSANUTTEN CROSSROADS CHURCH (R), a white frame successor to a church closely identified with the organizing of the Presbyterian denomination in this area. The Reverend John Hindman was sent here as a missionary from the Presbytery of Donegal Synod of Philadelphia in 1742.
Right on County 620 to KEEZLETOWN, 1.6 m. (116 pop.), which retains the charms of an earlier day. It was established about 1790 by George Keisell, who laid out his town shortly after Thomas Harrison established Harrisonburg farther west. Rivalry for the honor of being the county seat resulted in a horse race in which Harrison outdistanced Keisell.
Signs lead from the town to MASSANUTTEN CAVERNS, 2.8 m. (adm. $1.50), discovered in 1892 in a secondary ridge of the Massanutten.
At 117.5 m. on US 33 is a junction with County 687.
Left here 0.7 m. to MASSANETTA SPRINGS, a former resort now owned by the Presbyterian Synod of Virginia. Annual summer conferences, schools of music, and music festivals are held here.
HARRISONBURG, 121.6 m. (1,338 alt-, 7,232 pop.) (see Tour 5a), is at a junction with US 11. At 127.7 m. is a junction with County 752.
Right here to MT. CLINTON, 1.5 m., a small community. Its former name, Muddy Creek, was changed by election in 1833. Poultry raising is the leading commercial activity on farms near by.
WAR BRANCH, 128.8 m., is a mountain stream named for an Indian battle along its banks. The low ridge in front and slightly to the left of the highway at 129.2 m. is a local landmark called Giant's Grave.
RAWLEY SPRINGS (L), 133 m., is a spa that started its career when Joseph Hicks advertised in 1825 the benefits to be derived from its waters. Numerous fires have reduced its accommodations to cabins and campsites.
Just west of Rawley Springs the highway passes into the GEORGE WASHINGTON NATIONAL FOREST (camp and picnicking facilities), an area of many thousand acres of mountain land in Virginia and West Virginia set aside for the protection of watersheds and timber reserves. Since 1933 the recreational facilities of the forest have been greatly increased by the C.C.C.
The highway passes upward across the Allegheny Range, following the bed of Dry River through a parklike area.
US 33 crosses the crest of the Allegheny Range and the West Virginia line, 144 m., at a point 21 miles east of Franklin, W.Va. (see West Virginia Guide).