Side Stops on a Trip Down a Historic Corridor

Looking for the best milkshake or bed-and-breakfast on your way to Monticello, above, or Gettysburg National Military Park? Veteran writer David E. Lillard has plenty of suggestions in his no-frills, no-chains road trip guide.
Looking for the best milkshake or bed-and-breakfast on your way to Monticello, above, or Gettysburg National Military Park? Veteran writer David E. Lillard has plenty of suggestions in his no-frills, no-chains road trip guide. (By Alex Wong -- Getty Images)

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By Linda Wheeler
Sunday, May 13, 2007

Imagine visiting the Gettysburg or Brandywine battlefield and knowing exactly where to go for a great burger or a wonderful used-book store or even a cozy bed-and-breakfast for the night.

A recently published book makes that possible. Veteran guide writer David E. Lillard appears to have sampled everything along a 175-mile stretch of the Old Carolina Road (Route 15) to bring attention to the offerings of small towns between Gettysburg and Monticello.

The dreaded "c" word (chains) never appears in his text -- or among his choices. His goal was to find locally owned places.

"The Journey Through Hallowed Ground: The Official Guide to Where America Happened" also is meant to encourage appreciation and preservation of that historic corridor even as housing developments and businesses sprout there. Lillard is careful to embrace the vitality that comes with population growth and delights in the unexpected finds in towns best known to the people who live there.

The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership, with board members from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Civil War Preservation Trust, the Trust for Public Land, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation and other national and regional groups, wants Congress to designate the area a National Scenic Byway and a National Heritage Area. Such legislation would "sustain and strengthen our economy, heritage and quality of life in this region," the group says.

Much of the land in question is already preserved by those who own it and cherish its history. Novelist Geraldine Brooks, who lives in Waterford, speaks about that stewardship in the book's introduction. The care and dedication shown by hundreds of property owners means there are still buildings and landscapes to tell the story of how America happened.

"They have the power to transport us on the greatest adventure of all: the journey of empathy and imagination into the lives of people -- famous and unknown, humble and distinguished -- who shaped this country and made us who we are," she wrote.

The corridor, with expanded areas along the way, has 13 national parks, 12 Civil War battlefields, six presidents' homes, Underground Railroad sites, Thomas Jefferson's Monticello -- which is a World Heritage Site -- and other landmarks.

According to the partnership, the governors of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation support the preservation effort, and bills have been introduced this year in Congress to create the nation's 38th National Heritage Area.

There are sizable towns along the way, including Frederick and Charlottesville. Even in such places, Lillard is looking for the best homemade pie, milkshake or barbecue. Although his breezy style of writing can be tiresome -- he loves to put in phrases such as "you get the picture" and words such as "dude" -- his research is impressive. He couldn't resist giving the former name of the Downtown Saloon in Leesburg: Payne's Biker Bar.

He assures readers that Middleburg is much more than its reputation as the home of the rich. He found bargains and fun places. There is pizza at Teddy's, microbrews at Middleburg Brewery and Grill, a pool table at Maxwell's and great cookies at the Upper Crust Bakery.

He also suggests lesser-known museums, memorials and historic homes. In Frederick, there is the Schifferstadt Architectural Museum, which celebrates the area's historic ties to Germany and has an annual Oktoberfest. Emmitsburg has the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial, and Charlottesville is home to Pine Knot Cabin, the retreat used by President Theodore Roosevelt.

Lillard doesn't miss much. The book also features pick-your-own orchards, farmers markets, unusual churches, rural cemeteries, mountain lakes, hiking trails, railroad stations, courthouses, library archives, antique shops and at least a dozen vineyards.

The $20 guide is available at bookstores or through Capital Books at

Linda Wheeler can be reached at 540-465-8934

© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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