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The Winchester, VA to Fort Cumberland Road
Travel from Winchester, VA to Cumberland, MD has a long history. It was used extensively to move troops and supplies west in the mid-1700s, including military actions mounted by George Washington and Gen. Edward Braddock. There were two primary routes utilized to the Fort Cumberland area, one passed through Oldtown and then to the fort and a second that joined the Braddock and Cumberland Roads at Gwynn's Tavern in, what is now, LaVale. I will be addressing the latter in this article.

Starting on Aug. 11, 1790, Mr. William Brown traveled from Hanover, VA to Wheeling, WV. The following is the itinerary of his journey from Winchester, VA to Gwynn's Tavern (Now in LaVale, MD) as recorded in his Memo Book:

From Winchester...
[2] To Widow Lewis's, Hampshire, . 11
[3] To Crock's Tav., 9
[4] To Reynold's, on the So. Branch Potowmack, 13
[5] To Frankford Town, .... 8
[6] To Haldeman's Mills, .4
[7] To North Branch, Potomack, . . 3
[8] To Gwyn's Tav., at the Fork of Braddock's old road, Alleghany Co., Maryland, .... 3

Winchester VA to Cumberland MD Road

[1] Casper Rinker, born in 1727 and died on Feb. 11, 1804, according to a tombstone inscription in the Quaker Graveyard (Back Creek Meeting) atGainesboro (Pughtown), Va.(Historical Records Of Old Frederick County, Va., Page 321) ~

[2] Unknown

[3] Slanesville (Cross Roads), WV ?

[4] Unknown

[5] Frankfort is now called Fort Ashby.

[6] Unknown

[7] The routes crosses the North Branch of the Potomac River

[8] Gwynn's Tavern (later known as the Six-Mile House) in LaVale, MD

Notes: Route of Meriwether Lewis from Harpers Ferry, Va. to Pittsburgh, Pa.
The importance of the wagon road from Winchester, Va., west to the Monongahela River was again documented during the Whiskey Insurrection of 1794. On Saturday, October 4, 1794, the “infantry and light Corps” of the Virginia militia departed Winchester to support the militias of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey in suppressing the Whiskey Insurrection in western Pennsylvania [8]. Among the Virginia militiamen was Meriwether Lewis, who mustered in as a private in T. Walker’s volunteer corps. Lewis and his fellow Virginians assembled at Winchester, and on October 4, 1794, he wrote his mother from their camp [9].

Dr. Robert Wellford and the Volunteer Troop of Fredericksburg Cavalry followed the infantry, departing Winchester on the morning of October 6. Wellford documented the march in his diary:

October 6: “Rinkers, 9 miles” [Gainesboro, Va.]

October 7: “a little beyond Copsyes,” at the “Black horse of John Coxey”, “17 miles”
[Forks of Cacapon, W.Va.];
“Crocks, 5 miles further” [unknown, but possibly “Cross Roads” or Slanesville, W.Va.]

October 8: “Springfield, 17 miles from Crock’s” [Springfield, W.Va.]

October 9: “Frankfort, 7 miles, where we had a most comfortable breakfast at McMeekins Tavern” [Fort Ashby, W.Va.]; “FortCumberland, 14 miles, making a journey of Sixty nine miles from Winchester.” [Cumberland, Md.]
(See original article for footnotes.)

From Wikipedia: The Old Springfield Grade Road was a West Virginia Secondary Route (or County Route) that ran from Springfield on West Virginia Route 28 to Capon Bridge on the Northwestern Turnpike (U.S. Route 50) in Hampshire County.

Springfield Grade Road was originally known as the Great Wagon Road or Great Wagon Turnpike that connected Winchester, Virginia to Cumberland, Maryland in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Later, in the 18th century, the wagon road became known as the Springfield Grade and when county routes were established in West Virginia in the 1920s, the road was signed as Springfield Grade Road. From Springfield to Slanesville on West Virginia Route 29 (then West Virginia Route 45), Springfield Grade was West Virginia Secondary Route 3. From Slanesville to the village of North River Mills, the grade was Secondary Route 45/20. And finally, from North River Mills to Capon Bridge, the grade was Secondary Route 15.

- A 1873 map of Virginia & West Virginia shows two additional towns between Pughtown (Gainesboro) and Springfield, Back Creek Village and Sherrard's Store. (See map)

Back Creek: RootsWeb/Quarter Monthly Meetingslists the Back Creek - Frederick County (VA) meeting as originating in 1777.

Sherrard's Store is now the town of Bloomery, WV. According to Wikipedia: "Originally known as Sherrard's Store in the late 18th century, the community was renamed Bloomery reflecting its importance as a center for iron smelting. The first of Bloomery's iron furnaces was constructed in 1770. In 1814, a post office was established here." notes Sherrard's Store was first settled in 1737 and became Bloomery in 1833.

-A 1873 Map of Hampshire and Mineral Counties (WV) with additional towns between Gainesboro and Springfield. (Capon or Cacapon Bridge, Coldstream, North River Mills, Crossroads, Slanesville and Lovells Roads.)

- Jamesburg, WV is now Ganotown, WV.

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I invite you to share your family, business and town histories, information, photographs, references and observations. Your contributions will enhance our collective knowledge of a most important part of America's past.
Email me at: ~Steve Colby, Cumberland Road Project, Cumberland, MD

  Last Update: Oct. 27, 2009