The Seminole Trail was named by an act of the Virginia General Assembly on February 16, 1928. (2) US 29 is known as the Seminole Trail from Danville to Warrenton and it is the assumption of the author, until new information is made available, that the Seminole Trail was adjusted as new alignments and route changes were made throughout the 20th Century.
Same Road; New Numbers, Early 1920's-1932:
As states began
to number principal roads and created a statewide system of highways and
maintenance, many named trails now became known as a single number of in
the case of what would become the Seminole Trail, multiple numbers.
From Danville to Lynchburg, VA
14 would be the number. VA
18 took over the Lynchburg to Charlottesville segment. From Charlottesville
to Culpeper, the future Seminole Trail picked up the VA
28 designation. Finally, VA
32 carried the torch from Culpeper to Warrenton. (3)
the Seminole Trail have followed the original VA 28 from Culpeper to Warrenton
via Jeffersonton? Well, looking at the 1942 State Map at right, that
possibility does exist. Old VA
28, which in 1942 was VA
29 (totally unrelated to US 29), was the route of the trail from Charlottesville
to Culpeper. If this is correct, the original Seminole Trail follows
229 (which replaced VA 29 in the late 1940s) to near Jeffersonton.
The Trail would then follow Secondary Route 802 from VA 229 to Warrenton.
It is unclear at this time whether or not the Seminole Trail did follow
this route; or if it did follow what was then VA
32. More about this possible alignment of the Seminole Trail
can be found here. In
modern times, the current US 29 route from Culpeper to Warrenton is designated
as the Seminole Trail.
With the birth of the US Highway System in 1926, new numbers were added to the trail. US 170 would share the road with VA 14 into Lynchburg. Later in 1929, US 15 would take over VA 32 from Culpeper to Warrenton. By the early 1930's, VA 14 would leave also. During this ten year plus period, changes were made to the alignments as roads were improved and straightened.
One Number for One Trail:
Uniformity came to the Seminole Trail in 1932, when US 29 which had terminated in Kings Mountain, North Carolina was extended along then US 170 into Lynchburg. US 29 didn't stop there, it continued into Charlottesville along VA 18 and towards Culpeper on VA 28. As a result, both VA 18 and VA 28 were no longer signed on the trail. Two years later, US 29 would be extended through Virginia and into the nation's capital along US 15 and US 211.
US 29 North approaching Charlottesville
Why call it 'Seminole Trail'?:
That's a good question, and really no one knows for sure. A February 22, 2004 Washington Post Article, that featured this site , gives some clues to the possible naming. The 1928 Act, known as Senate Bill 64, that gave the route its name, gives no reason of why or who suggested the name. (6) Many believe that the road was named such to attract tourists through the area on their way to Florida. This theory is strengthened by the fact that many road maps of the 30s and 40s list the Seminole Trail on highways in the Carolinas, Georgia and ultimately Florida. While these maps show 'Seminole Trail', Virginia is the only state that has kept the name. In fact, there is no proof that the other states even signed the route as such. Although many auto trails of the era, like the Lincoln Highway, had distinguished markings for navigation of their routes. It is unknown if the Seminole Trail did. Today, Virginia places small Seminole Trail guide signs, like the photo at right, along the enire length of the trail. The small guides usually are placed after major intersections.
US 29 is also
known by other names in Virginia. From Warrenton to Washington, DC,
US 29 is part of the Lee Highway, named after former Confederate General
Robert E. Lee. Of course in various towns and counties, US 29 may
have a different name than 'Seminole Trail'. It also shares the James
Madison Highway designation with US 15 in Northern Virginia, and the entire
route is named in honor of the 29th Infantry Division. (7)
Sources & Links:
Page Created: January 31, 2003
Last Updated: June 11, 2006
© 2003-06 Adam Prince