I’ve driven the length of Route 250 in Virginia, and often noted its frequent intersections with the meandering Three Chopt Road. Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall and Main Street used to be that road. As a kid I learned—who knows where?—that it used to be an American Indian footpath, built up over the years. So I was glad to discover “The Route of the Three Notch’d Road: A Preliminary Report,” by VDOT’s Nathaniel Pawlett and Howard Newlon, from back in 1976. It’s just seven pages long, with dozens of pages of maps, citations, and old photographs. It’s great that VDOT prepared this and made it available online. It turns out that, yes, the legends were true, and 250 follows the route that developed into crude roads in the 1730s, became a major transportation corridor and acquired its current name in 1743.
This is the route paralleled by Route 64 now. Was this the ideal location for a major interstate highway? In a vacuum of human development, probably not. But because American Indians and then settlers wore a groove into the earth centuries ago, that’s where untold millions of dollars of dollars of transportation funding have gone. Urban planning is a funny thing.