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Showing posts from May, 2017

Searights Toll House

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As you head west on US 40 from Uniontown, there is a second historical toll house that remains standing.  The Searights Tollhouse was one of six toll houses that once stood along the historic route.  Similar to the Petersburg Toll House in Addison, Searights was built in 1835 after the federal government transferred the maintenance of the National Road to the states.

Searights Toll House is named after the nearby village of Searights.  The village is named after William Searights who lived nearby.  In later years, a coal company town would be built just to the south of the toll house.  The toll house is a two story facility and is open for tours.  The toll house is currently owned by the Fayette County Historical Society.

After collection of tolls ceased in 1905, the toll house went into disrepair.  Today, it has been fully restored and has many artifacts that give a glimpse of life as a toll keeper during the 19th century.  The toll house was added to the National Registe…

Somerfield and the Great Crossings Bridge

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West of Addison, US 40 crosses the Youghiogheny River at what once was the town of Somerfield.  When crossing the current modern two lane bridge, you many not realize that it is actually the third to cross the Yough at this site.  The first - a stone arch bridge - was known as the Great Crossings Bridge.  Built in 1818, this three arch bridge was part of the original National Road.  The name Great Crossings comes from the men who forded the Youghiogheny here - George Washington and George Braddock. (1)  If you cross the bridge at the right time, this historic bridge and what was once the town of Somerfield will appear out from underneath this massive man-made lake.

The Great Crossings Bridge was located in the town of Somerfield.  Somerfield, originally named Smythfield until 1827, would develop as a result of the National Road. (1)  Somerfield would go through various stages of growth and decline throughout the 19th century.  In the early 20th century, Somerfield would d…

Petersburg Toll House

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The town of Addison is located along US 40 in Somerset County.  Most of the town sits along an old stretch of US 40/National Road that runs south of the current Route 40.  Within Addison sits the Petersburg Toll House, an original toll house built in the 1830s for toll collection along the National Road.

Built in 1835, the Petersburg Toll House was used to collect tolls from all travelers and their load along this historic highway.  That year the United State Congress transferred the maintenance of the National Road, whose original route was completed in 1818, from the federal government to the states.  The states in order to raise funds for the repair and upkeep of the road instituted tolls.  In Pennsylvania, six toll houses were built.  Of the six, Petersburg and the Searights Toll House (to the west of Uniontown) are the only two toll houses still standing.  A third, the LaValle Toll House, is located in Maryland. The toll keeper lived at the toll house rent free and was paid a…

Barronvale Covered Bridge

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Sometimes you do in fact get lucky.  A recent 6 or 8" blanket of snow, a rare clear winter day with the temperature just around or below freezing, throw in a covered bridge and you have a nearly perfect winter scene.  Such was the case when I came across the Barronvale Covered Bridge on Christmas Eve in 2009.  The Barronvale Covered Bridge or Barron's Mill Bridge crosses Laurel Hill Creek in Western Somerset County.

The bridge's origin seems to be somewhat unknown as various sources report 1830, 1846 and 1902 as the bridge's construction date.   At 162 feet, the double span burr arch truss bridge is the longest of the ten remaining covered bridges in Somerset County. The bridge is only open to pedestrians and has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1980.

Bridge Specs:
Number: 38-56-03Built: 1902Design: Burr Arch TrussLength: 162 feetCrosses: Laurel Hill Creek

All photos taken by post author December 24, 2009.