It was groundbreaking in its day, but is now in danger of breaking apart.
The Old Concrete Road up the face of Mill Mountain is included on a list of ten endangered historic sites. The list was released Tuesday by Preservation Virginia.
The road was built in the 1920s. At the time it was the longest, continuous concrete road built on a 6 to 10 percent grade. It also had the only "loop-the-loop" bridge, east of the Rocky Mountains.
It's now used as a foot path, and the retaining walls are deteriorating, according to Preservation Virginia.
Other endangered sites from our area on the list include the Town of Pamplin in Appomattox County, the Hook- Powell Moorman farm near Booker T. Washington National Monument in Franklin County and the Phlegar Building in Christiansburg.
Here is the entire list:
Preservation Virginia presents its tenth consecutive list of Virginia's Most Endangered Historic Sites to raise awareness of places that face imminent or sustained threats to their integrity or survival. The statewide preservation organization creates the annual listing to bring attention to these properties at risk and to encourage individuals and organizations to advocate for the protection and preservation of Virginia's historic places.
Each of 2014's 11 sites is listed below, with its significance, a description of how it is threatened, and a recommended solution. (Sites are not listed in order of importance.)
1. Virginia’s Civil War Battlefields
(Bristoe Station Battlefield and Williamsburg Battlefield)
Significance: The Bristoe Station and Williamsburg Battlefields are just two of the most recent examples of Virginia’s oft-threatened Civil War landscapes, the threats to which are especially worthy of attention during the ongoing Civil War sesquicentennial. The Bristoe Station Battlefield is the site of two significant battles: the August 27, 1862, Battle of Kettle Run, and the October 14, 1863, Battle of Bristoe Station. Various winter encampments took place in this same area, and various cemeteries exist, most still unidentified. Both battlefields have been recognized as among the Cilvil War's most significant sites by the Congressionally-appointed Civil War Sites Advisory Commission (CWSAC) and its Report on the Nation's Civil War Battlefields. Bristoe Station Battlefield is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources holds a historic easement on the 133 acres that incorporate the Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park. Locally, Prince William County identifies the current Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park as a County Registered Historical Site.
In 2009, the Update to Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Report showed that just three percent of the site of the Battle of Williamsburg was protected; the report also reclassified it as a Level 3 priority, indicating that additional protection was needed. The 2009 study also identified more than 1,000 acres eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Since the early 1990s, more than 2,000 acres of the Williamsburg Battlefield have disappeared, which promoted the Civil War Trust to list the site as “at risk” in 2010. The Battle of Williamsburg was the first major land battle of the Civil War’s Peninsula Campaign. Beginning in spring 1862, this campaign tested the two armies, setting a pace for the remainder of the conflict. By dusk on May 5, 1862, close to 4,000 Americans were dead, wounded or missing. Seven Medals of Honor were awarded to Union soldiers for their actions on this day, also the day the first Confederate battle flag was captured in the War.
Threat: Both battlefield sites are threatened by encroaching development, both immediate and longer term.
Solution: Revisiting the zoning contexts in which these cultural landscapes appear may help to more effectively align the goals of local governments, citizenry, the development community, and historically-minded organizations. Bristoe Station Battlefield has already been identified as the Bristoe Station Historical Area in Prince William County’s Comprehensive Plan; such recognition of the cultural landscape’s importance should inform planning and development decisions to allow for smart development while protecting assets. Likewise, the historical significance of the Williamsburg Battlefield could be addressed through local zoning overlays and comprehensive planning. At Bristoe Station, a proposed cemetery development of 80 acres threatens to destroy a significant portion of unprotected battlefield. The local community should continue to work together toward a solution that will allow for development without destroying this hallowed ground. Overall, community-based solutions are needed to adequately balance landscape preservation with modern development.
2. Southside Roller Mill, Chase City
Significance: The main section of the mill was built in 1912 of timber-frame construction with a three-story east-end gable of brick painted with the words “Southside Roller Mills” and “Wide Awake Flour.” In use until 1986, the structure is zoned industrial. The mill is not in an historic district but serves as a rare surviving example of an early 20th-century commercial/industrial building with all of its functional interior elements intact, including: millstones, chutes, sifters, presses, and engines. For three quarters of a century, the mill played a key role in the life of Chase City, stimulating the local economy by providing agricultural milling services and employment.
Threat: The Southside Roller Mill’s private owner struggles to maintain and shield the structure from the ravages of time and weather, but, as in many rural towns, funds are generally insufficient for feasibility planning and rehabilitating the structure for a new community use.
Solution: The Southside Roller Mill, if determined eligible for the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places and subsequently listed, could then be eligible for historic rehabilitation tax credits. Such tax credits (up to 45% of eligible expense), when used in the rehabilitation of an income-producing commercial structure, might provide the economic incentive needed to successfully finance the project, as they have in many other Virginia communities. Local supporters for the repurposing of the mill should begin by studying the costs associated with new uses for it, in order to determine a long-range, sustainable business plan.
3. Virginia’s “Sidestepped” Towns: Columbia and Pamplin City
Significance: Over the course of Virginia’s history, various modes of transportation and routes of trade and commerce have affected settlement patterns and the growth and decline of towns and communities. From waterway travel and trade on rivers and canals, to the railroad network, to the major roadways of the 20th century, towns reliant on agricultural or industrial commerce have faced declining employment and populations due to the shifts in greater patterns of circulation.
The Town of Pamplin City was once a thriving center of commerce located at the confluence of two major rail lines at the Appomattox and Prince Edward county line, and once home to the Pamplin Pipe Factory, the largest manufacturer of clay pipes in the United States at the time (now an abandoned site). The historic resources of Pamplin City include ten brick buildings located along Main Street, built after a fire swept through the town in 1909, and the vacant Park Hotel, located nearby.
The area now called Columbia, near the fork of the James and Rivanna Rivers, was part of the Monacan Nation when explored by Captain John Smith as early as 1608. Called Point of Fork by early English settlers, then Point of Fork Arsenal prior to the Revolutionary War, the area was home to the first tobacco inspection station west of Richmond in 1785. The Town of Columbia was chartered in 1788, the first post office established in 1793. From the opening of the James River and Kanawha Canal in 1836 until the start of the Civil War in 1861, Columbia experienced its most successful economic period. The development of the railroad and historic floods in 1880 and 1887 contributed to Columbia’s slow decline, followed by the filling in of the canals by late 1888. The 20th century brought two more large floods and the cessation of rail service.
Threat: The towns of Columbia and Pamplin City are similar in that their periods of greatest prosperity are behind them, as a result of evolving patterns of circulation and modes of transportation, but their immediate threats and opportunities for renewed success are divergent.
The buildings along Pamplin’s Main Street are currently used mainly for storage. Together with the nearby Park Hotel, the historic fabric suffers from deferred maintenance or neglect, having been uninhabited for years. Property owners in the area support the rehabilitation of this Main Street, but as is the case in many small towns whose industries have left, funding such projects is difficult.
The historic structures along Columbia’s St. James Street are sited in a federally-recognized flood plain and remain in poor condition, the result of neglect. The lack of adequate sewer system infrastructure and general uncertainty about a pending Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant further complicates the situation, making investment in the structures difficult to justify. This once-thriving but now neglected town with multiple intact historic resources (that at one time constituted a register-eligible district) illustrates the multiple forces at work that combine and contribute to the decline of small, historic towns across the Commonwealth.
Solution: The Town of Pamplin City has refurbished the former Norfolk-Southern train depot, now the home of the Pamplin Town Office and a branch of the Jameson Memorial Library. Pamplin’s Mayor, Appomattox County, and other supporters are working to make Pamplin the terminus for the 31-mile High Bridge Trail, the Virginia Historic Landmark and National Recreation Trail that runs through Farmville almost to Burkeville. Expanding the trail end in Pamplin would increase visitation to the area and encourage further heritage tourism activities. Both the Main Street storefronts and the Park Hotel could be rehabilitated to provide essential services for those accessing the trail and other attractions in the area. Listing these structures on the National Register of Historic Places would then make them eligible for the utilization of historic preservation tax credits.
As for Columbia, a federal process related to FEMA is underway, and Preservation Virginia is a consulting party. Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act requires federal agencies to consider the effects of projects they carry out, approve, or fund on historic properties, ensuring that preservation values are factored into federal agency planning and decisions. We urge all parties involved to continue following and integrating federal Section 106 protocol while advocating for the most sensitive treatment of the historic resources that remain. At the very least, if the structures cannot be rehabilitated, relocated or otherwise utilized, a thorough documentation of the town and its historic buildings is needed.
(Learn more about Section 106 here: http://www.achp.gov/docs/CitizenGuide.pdf)
4. James River Viewshed
Significance: The Historic Triangle, which includes Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown, encompasses 175 years of our nation’s formative history and attracts more than six million national and international travelers annually. Jamestown, America’s first permanent English settlement, was founded along the banks of the James River in 1607. Today, visitors trace early American history and the exploration route of Captain John Smith on the only historic National Park Service water trail, the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. Historic Jamestowne, the Colonial Parkway, the John Smith Water Trail and Carter’s Grove Plantation all provide visitors with a unique experience of the area’s history. The environmental landscape and waterway of the James River remains as evocative of the Colonial era now as it did hundreds of years ago.
Threat: A proposed Dominion Virginia Power transmission line project would cross 4.1 miles of the river atop as many as 17 towers ranging in height from 160 feet to 295 feet, compromising the scenic integrity of the historic cultural areas that comprise the James River. The towers and power lines would intrude on the public vantage points from the Historic Triangle, which includes the Colonial Parkway, Jamestown Island’s Black Point and Carter’s Grove Plantation, as well as water routes on the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Trail. The National Trust for Historic Preservation named the resource to its 2013 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places and, recently, as one of its 100 National Treasures.