“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Georgetown in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

A Rolling Tobacco Road

A Rolling Tobacco Road Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, January 27, 2018
1. A Rolling Tobacco Road Marker
As one of Washington's oldest commercial corridors, Wisconsin Avenue has been a direct route to the Potomac River for more than 250 years. Originally an Indian trail, the route became known as Frederick Pike and linked the small port of George Town (incorporated in 1751) to the county seat of Frederick, Maryland, located 42 miles to the northwest. This was a "rolling road" for the transport of hogsheads — large barrels containing at least one thousand pounds of tobacco which would be shipped to England, Europe and the West Indies.

Tobacco shaped most aspects of life in George Town and was the foundation of its early economy. Before the American Revolution, tobacco was almost the sole currency of the region. Numerous dealings were based upon it: debts, rent, fines, salaries and levies were all paid in tobacco. In 1732, tobacco was made legal tender in Maryland at one penny a pound. An early English writer called tobacco the "meat, drink, clothing and money of the colonists," many of whom saw tobacco as the path to fortune.

"Rolling roads" such as this were the best roads. They were smooth (so that the cask would not be punctured by rocks and tree stumps), dry (to keep the tobacco from getting damp), and reasonably level (to minimize the uphill pull and avoid run-away casks on the down slopes). The large
A Rolling Tobacco Road Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, January 27, 2018
2. A Rolling Tobacco Road Marker
hogsheads were pulled by oxen or horses and rolled to market by placing an axle through the barrel and attaching wheels. At the time of the American Revolution, the Chesapeake area exported more than one hundred million pounds of tobacco annually, dominating the world market. A large part of that went through George Town, which by the end of the century was the largest tobacco port in the U.S.
Erected by Cultural Tourism DC.
Location. 38° 54.948′ N, 77° 4.084′ W. Marker is in Georgetown, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of 34th Street Northwest and Wisconsin Avenue NW, on the right when traveling south on 34th Street Northwest. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20007, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Introduction to Burleith (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Georgetown Departed (about 700 feet away); Temple of Learning and Talent (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Origins of Burleith (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Georgetown Heights (approx. 0.2 miles away); Holy Rood Cemetery (approx. 0.2 miles away); Hilleary's Smiling Corner (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Original Georgetown Reservoir (approx. mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Georgetown.
Categories. AnimalsColonial EraIndustry & CommerceRoads & Vehicles
Credits. This page was last revised on February 2, 2018. This page originally submitted on January 27, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 32 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on January 27, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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