Why Williams Gap Road Should Not Be Paved

Today, most residents of Loudoun County know nothing about Williams Gap, even those living on Williams Gap Road (Route 711). Knowing who “Williams” was, why a gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains was named for him, and why the rural character of historic Williams Gap Road should be preserved are all significant to our heritage, particularly to those living in Western Loudoun.

In the early 1700s, settlers moving west sought farmland along the old Indian trail roads. In 1731, Robert “King” Carter took out a land patent for his 13-year-old son George.

In it, the “Indian Thoroughfare” (now Snickersville Turnpike) was described as running from “Williams Cabbin in the Blew Ridge” to the Little River, at now Aldie. The fact that there was a squatter’s cabin at the Gap means that it was there before 1731. In 1743, George Carter owned 2,941 acres as part of the Manor of Leeds “at the lower thoroughfare of the Blue Ridge known by the name of Williams Gap, alias the Indian Thoroughfare of the Blue Ridge, including the same and the top of the ridge.”

In 1748, 16-year-old George Washington accompanied George William Fairfax to survey Lord Fairfax’s properties in the Shenandoah Valley. On his return trip in April, he wrote “Tuesday 12th. We set out of from Capt. Hites in order to go over Wms. Gap.”

A connecting road from Williams Gap to Leesburg was established in 1764. Known as the Williams Gap Road, it later was called the Leesburg Turnpike. After the Revolutionary War, Edward Snickers’ Shenandoah River ferry was reestablished by the Legislature in October 1786 on “the land of Edward Snickers at Williams Gap.” Later that year Williams Gap became Snickers Gap.

With this extensive history of Williams Gap Road, it is of the utmost importance that it not be paved. Please e-mail the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors (bos@loudoun.gov), and tell them to remove the paving of historic Williams Gap Road from the 2018 Six Year Plan.

Henry G. Plaster
Chairman of the Snickersville Turnpike Association