This sleepy little rural
town in Central Virginia can easily be overlooked. Located miles
from the Interstate or four lane US and Virginia Highways, Charlotte Court
House in many ways is easily forgotten. However, this tiny town of
slightly over 400 residents holds a lot of Virginia and American History.
In 1799, Charlotte Court House saw the passing
of the torch from an aging Patrick Henry and a young John Randolph.
The great debate over states' rights was the last for the fiery Henry and
the first in public for Randolph. Randolph would go on to serve in
the US House of Representatives and U.S. Minister to Russia. Henry,
who was serving in the Virginia General Assembly representing Charlotte
County at the time of the debate, died three months later.
Charlotte Court House is not the original name
of the town. Originally named The Magazine, then Daltonsburgh, followed
by Marysville (which was the town's name at the time of the Henry-Randolph
debate), Smithfield, and finally…
Recently I located a portion of the Old Wawona Road that was the original alignment used by wagons and early cars to get to Yosemite Valley from the south before the Wawona Tunnel was built. Locating the Old Wawona Road was the primary driving force to head to a very dry Yosemite National Park this winter.
Generally I don't talk about the history of a route first, but in the case of the Wawona Road I thought it was particularly important to do so first. The modern Wawona Road is approximately 28 miles in length from the north terminus of California State Route 41 at the boundary of Yosemite National Park to South Side Drive near Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite Valley. A good chunk of people entering Yosemite Valley use the Wawona Road which generally is considered to be the easiest route...that certainly was not always the case.
The origins of the Wawona Road are tied to the Wawona Hotel. The first structure in the Wawona Hotel complex dates back to 1876 which was built by the Wa…
While researching the history of the Lanes Bridge crossing of the San Joaquin River I noticed an oddity on the 1935 California Division of Highways map of Madera County. Today California State Route 41 takes a crossing of the Fresno River west of the confluence with China Creek. Back on the 1935 Map of Madera County the crossing is very clearly east of the confluence crossing on what are now Road 425B and Road 426 in Oakhurst. CA 41 can be seen traversing southbound from Oakhurst on Road 425B towards Coarsegold on the 1935 Madera County Map.
After viewing Road 425B on the Google Street Vehicle it was clear that the path downhill from the top of Deadwood Gulch was substantially more haggard than the modern alignment of CA 41. I finally had occasion to visit Oakhurst today so I pulled off of modern CA 41 at Road 425B. Immediately I was greeted by this warning sign.
Road 425B ahead was clearly a narrow road but barely wide enough for two vehicles. T…