Snickersville Turnpike (Snicker's Gap Turnpike)
The rural Virginia Byway, Snickersville Turnpike (State Route 734), follows between Aldie and Bluemont (formerly Snickerville) via Mountville, Philomont, and Airmont. It includes the 180+ year old Hibbs Bridge over Beaverdam Creek (a tributary of Goose Creek). This turnpike replaced, in part, the first toll road in the United States, which consisted of two roads from Alexandria northwest into the Shenandoah Mountains.
When the Iroquois hunted in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, they followed a trail that eventually became the roadbed for Route 734, the Snickersville Turnpike. Over the centuries, many names were given to this meandering byway that rises and falls across the lush Loudoun Valley. Land deeds from the early 1700s refer to it as the Shenandoah Hunting Path. From the late 1700s until the early 1800s it was called the Mountain Road. Still, at various points along the route, people found other names more suited to their purposes, such as the Blue Ridge Road, Colchester Road, the Middle Road and Snickers Gap Road.
By all its names, Snickersville Turnpike has been a setting of great significance to our nation's history. While still a land surveyor for Lord Fairfax, George Washington traveled this road over Snickers Gap and often spent the night along the Shenandoah River, where Edward Snickers kept an inn and operated a ferry.
Increased commercial traffic in the early 1800s put an extra burden on the road, and during its 1809-10 General Assembly, the Commonwealth of Virginia created a system of privately owned toll-roads or "turnpikes", and appropriated $20,000 to build the 13.75 mile Snickersville Turnpike. As late as 1915, a toll booth was still in operation on top of the Blue Ridge at Snickers Gap.
Many Civil War skirmishes took place along the full length of the turnpike, where both Union and Confederate troops covered Snickers and Ashby's Gaps, while troops led by Robert E. Lee and "Fighting Joe" Hooker traveled up and down the Shenandoah Valley. Major General J.E.B. Stuart, Brigadier General Alfred Pleasonton, and John Mosby with his Rangers were prominent figures in Loudoun Valley's Civil War action.
The War took its toll on the turnpike. The Goose Creek Bridge was burned, and after the war, only the westernmost five miles were in a condition to merit payment for passage.