Bridgewater in Rockingham County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Famous Travelers Along the Turnpike
Tradition says that Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay frequented Bridgewater inns on their travels between their homes in Tennessee and Kentucky, and Washington, D.C. President Martin Van Buren’s coach took him to the springs to avoid the heat of summer in the Capitol.
Jerome Bonaparte, who would one day be named king of Spain by his brother Napoleon, used the roadway when he journeyed to the springs.
The beautiful Betsy Patterson of Bordentown, New Jersey, who met Jerome Bonapare at one of the resorts and almost cost him the crown of Spain, also passed this way.
In the 1840s a young man named “Jed” Hotchkiss, a native of New York, walked along this road and became tutor of the ironmaster’s children at Mossy Creek. Later he would become famous as Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall”
Nineteenth centyury writer, illustrator, and Civil War officer David Hunter Strother, better known as Porte Crayon, came along the road exploring western Virginia before the guns began to sound.
Stonewall Jackson moved along the road with his army on May 18, 1862 following the victory at McDowell in Highland County and camped that night in the fields just to the right of this sign. The army had spent most of the day crossing the rain swollen North River on a makeshift wagon bridge.
Confederate General John D. Imboden’s Northwestern Brigade guarded the North River line on several occasions, and moved along the road at various times during the Civil War, as did Confederate Major General Thomas L. Rosser’s cavalry division. The Southern partisan ranger company commanded by Missourian Charles Woodson was issued horses at Bridgewater in the summer of 1864. Several local boys enlisted in the unit.
On September 30, 1864, General George Armstrong Custer forded the North River and road through Bridgewater to his new command, the 3rd U.S. Cavalry Division, which was camped on the heights just to the northeast. On October 2, 1864, a cavalry action took place along the pike, and in the fields where Jackson had camped in 1862.
After the Civil War the famous spy Belle Boyd came along the pike and delivered a lecture on her war exploits at the Bridgewater Opera House.
The famous Shenandoah Valley historian John W. Wayland traveled along the Warm Springs Turnpike scores of times gathering information for his books and articles on Valley people and their culture.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Roads & Vehicles • War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #08 Martin Van Buren series list. A significant historical month for this entry is May 1779.
Location. 38° 23.524′ N, 78° 57.757′ W. Marker is in Bridgewater, Virginia, in Rockingham County. Marker is on North Main Street (State Highway 42), on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Bridgewater VA 22812, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Alexander Mack Memorial Library (approx. one mile away); Bridgewater (approx. 1.3 miles away); a different marker also named Bridgewater (approx. 1.3 miles away); Origins of Shenandoah University (approx. 1½ miles away); Dayton (approx. 1.9 miles away); Lt. Col. Thomas F. Wildes (approx. 2.1 miles away); Shenandoah College and Shenandoah Conservatory of Music (approx. 2.2 miles away); First Church in Rockingham County (approx. 2.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Bridgewater.
More about this marker. On the left is a painting of Daniel Boone. On the upper right is a photo captioned, Coaches like this one served the Warm Springs Turnpike on a daily basis. Travelers used the coaches to go to the “healing” springs west of here and to summer resorts to avoid the heat of the city. On the lower right is a portrait of Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on February 26, 2009, by Robert H. Moore, II of Winchester, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,306 times since then and 90 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on February 26, 2009, by Robert H. Moore, II of Winchester, Virginia. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.