Anders Family
David Asbel Anders with
Jim and Tina Smith Anders

US GenWeb Project

Rufus and Florence Hall Owen Family in 1947
Rufus and Florence Hall Owen and children

US GenWeb Archives Project


Transylvania County, NC 

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NC GenWeb


Old Turnpike Roads

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From the Brevard News, January 11, 1929

The Old Turnpikes

For generations, travel and transportation was, compared to modern standards, decidedly limited throughout this section. The main traveled roads scarcely equaled “one-way cartways” in the backwoods sections. “Rapid transit” was practically limited to horseback. Stage coaches and carriages were few in number. To pull a loaded coach or fair load of freight required a team of four or six.

The settlement and development of the upper French Broad River and its tributaries and of the valleys of Toxaway, Horsepasture, Whitewater, Little Tennessee and others farther west developed considerable travel and, to meet this demand, in the early part of the last century [1800’s], the Western Turnpike Road was constructed (roughly speaking) from Asheville through what is now Buncombe, Henderson, Transylvania, Jackson and Macon Counties. It followed approximately the Old Asheville Road as far as Brevard and the Cashiers Valley Road farther west, and closely followed the old Cherokee trail (Eastatoe). Toll gates were across the roads every few miles (generally 10 to 15 miles apart), and the toll gate keeper usually had facilities to care for “man and beast”. The entertainment would include lodging and feeding anything from a single wayfarer to a house of militia—a meat supply that would vary from a “cold bite” to roasting an ox whole, or other things in proportion. With a small crowd, there was an abundance of room for all. With a large crowd, sometimes every nook and cranny of the building, the outhouses, and barn lofts would be occupied. Stable and shed room was liberal, and a number of large pens could accommodate droves of cattle, sheep and hogs. The livestock for market traveled on their own “shank mares” instead of in iced refrigerators. “Mine host” never knew far in advance whether he would have to feed one or a hundred—man or beast.

It was not long after the advent of the steam boat before the river boats developed a large freight traffic up the Savannah River to Hamburg, SC (across the river from Augusta, GA), and at this point, as a source of supply was nearer than previous sources, the wagon traffic developed from this section to Hamburg.

To meet this new demand, the Little River Turnpike was constructed, connecting with the Western Turnpike in the Mills River section, crossing the ridge into the French Broad Valley near Etowah, crossing the French Broad at Shuford’s Bridge (now Penrose), then up Little River to Laurel Creek, then by Buck Forest and Cedar Mountain, connecting with the South Carolina road at Jones Gap.

With the standards of road building required at that time, teams rarely traveled more than a couple of stages a day. The hard travel required long rests, and there was ample time for the preparation for the “refreshments for man and beast”. With ordinary travel, twenty to thirty miles per day was “fast travel”. Rarely a greater distance was made except in the cases where relay teams were used.

A drive of cattle made up, say about Penrose, would be destined for market farther south, probably Augusta, Columbia or Charleston. With an early start and by keeping moving, it would probably reach the feeding pens about Cedar Mountain or Jones Gap by noon and the foot of the mountain by night. The second night would reach Greenville, SC, and so on to the final destination. There were enough men and boys with the drove to “chase stragglers” and keep them on the road. The “drovers” were paid their wages when the destination was reached and stock sold, being paid for the number of days actually taken to make the trip, including half that time estimated for their return home. The mode of operation was much the same for sheep and hogs.

In the old days, the tolls for travel and the tavern and feed bills were ample to pay the innkeepers, maintain the roads and bridges, and pay good dividends to the stockholders. For a long time, a well-to-do farmer or planter or business man considered his certificate of turnpike as one of his most conservative and best income-producing possessions.

The building of the “ole Piedmont Air Line” railroad brought rail traffic as near as Greenville, SC; the Western North Carolina brought it to Asheville in the [eighteen] seventies, and the Spartanburg and Asheville to Hendersonville in the [eighteen] eighties. With each successive stage, the traffic on the turnpike grew less and less. The extension of the public roads of the counties had a like effect. As the traffic tolls dropped below the cost of upkeep, the stocks became worthless, and the Turnpike companies were glad to turn over their roads to the public road systems.

Source: Little River “Hogtown” Turnpike, Mary Jane McCrary Collection Box 31, Folder 4,
Rowell Bosse NC Room, Transylvania County Library.
Items in [] supplied by transcriber, Linda O. Anders, 18 Feb. 2009.

For additional information on the "Little River Turnpike Company" click here.

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