Day Tripping - DC Metro
Route 11, Virginia
Site Links
Route 11
Items of Interest: Quaint Drive, Small Towns
Beautiful Countryside
(Parallels Interstate 81 through Virginia)

I (Ron) grew up in Southwest Virginia, Pulaski to be exact, and came to Washington in 1963 to attend George Washington University graduate school. I had graduated from Emory and Henry College, which was only a few miles from my home town, so I naturally spent a lot of time on the road between Pulaski and Emory and Pulaski and Washington (all along Route 11).

I have two brothers, a sister, and I had parents, along with a lot of cousins, aunts and uncles back in the 60's - more the reason to spend time in Southwest Virginia.

Route 11, which parallels Interstate 81 from one end of Virginia to the other, was my main road for the long commute - it took nearly 8 hours to go about 385 miles from DC to Pulaski. Of course, I either had to take Route 250 to Charlottesville and Route 29 to the DC area, or drive all the way up 11 to Front Royal and take routes 55 and 29 home (all this was before I-64 between Route 11 and Charlottesville was completed and before I-66 became a faster way to go).

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Countryside View Near Covered Bridge South of Mount Jackson
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For many reasons, I fell in love with Route 11. I was hardly ever in a hurry in those days and usually enjoyed the back and forth trips tremendously.

Today, a ride along any section of Route 11 takes you back to an earlier, more innocent time when a long car trip meant driving through small towns, growing cities (through the middle of the business section), and waiting for trains to pass.

You are also assured of mile after mile of dramatic and panaromic views of a countryside still unspoiled - and relative comfort in being able to look without an 18-wheeler pushing you off the road.

Even today, you can savor the small pleasures associated with stopping at small restaurants which are not a part of a national chain; but, unfortunately, it's increasingly rare to find that special, unique local filling station that dotted the downtown area and provided "full service" without being asked.

There was even the occasional picnic table where you could pull over and have lunch (McDonalds, eat your heart out!). Overcooked and fatty hamburgers and fries couldn't hold a candle to your packed lunch and drinks. My favorite sandwiches were tuna fish and pimento cheese - both spreads home-made first by my Mother and later by me, using her recipes.

You can travel back to that time (at least partially) by taking a trip out I-66 West to Strasburg where you can pick up Route 11 and begin your journey by heading west toward New Market.

Arguably one of the most pleasant-appearing of the small towns along Route 11, Woodstock is pure eye-candy to those who love 19th and early 20th Century structures, neat streets, and only about 15 miles from the I-66/I-81 intersection at Strasburg.

One of the most charming and useful stores we located in Woodstock is "The Market," where you will find bulk food, dairy products, fresh produce in season, and handmade products, produced by the small farms and businesses of the Shendoah Valley.

Step through the door of this business and you step back in time! Here you'll find an old-fashioned store filled with useful things, even for your modern life.

The shelves are full of healthy, real products - many are locally-made or produced - lots from Amish and Mennonite sources.

Tucked here and there in the Market among the shelves of bulk foods and assorted goods (including fresh milk in glass bottles with cream on top) are things for the kitchen and home such as bowls and wooden utensils, iron skillets and enamel spongeware.

Try it - we think you will like it.

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The Market
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We found a wonderful cherry pie (frozen with baking instructions, which turned out to be perfect), chocolate covered peanuts which are just super, and a pancake mix which turned out just fine.

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The Union Church
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Mount Jackson is a sleepy little town about 3/4 of the way between Strasburg and New Market along Route 11/I-81. One of the more striking features of the town is an early 19th century church building which has served many purposes since its construction, believed to have taken place in 1825.

Before there was a Mt. Jackson in 1926, there was Mt. Pleasant and Reuben Moore's will.

The year of the will was July, 1822, and read (in part): "I... give the schoolhouse on the left of the Main road with about 3/4 of an acre of Land annext to it more or less."

(Information Courtesy Union Church Brochure)

During a restoration of the building in 1990/91, the walls were scraped, replastered and painted; during that process, names were uncovered, believed to be signatures of Civil War soldiers.

These names and/or signatures can been seen today on uncovered sections of the building's walls.

Covered Bridge
(Photo and Historical Facts Courtesy

Just south of Mount Jackson, the longest remaining covered bridge in Virginia stretches 191 feet in a single span carried by the famous wooden Burr Arch. There is a sign which points to the bridge on the right going south on Route 11.

It was placed on the Virginia Landmark Register, as well as the National Historic Register in April 1975.

Meems Bottom Bridge was constructed in 1892-93 by Franklin H. Wissler to provide a more convenient access to his apple orchards and Strathmore Farm.

He built it well with strict attention to proper drainage of rain and surface water and topped it with a roof. Mr. Wissler deeded the bridge to the Highway Department in the 1930's in return for assuming its maintenance.

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Covered Bridge
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Believe me, folks, this trip is worth the effort. After all, you do end up in New Market, Virginia, where you can go to the Southern Kitchen for some of the best Southern food imaginable. Check our New Market Site to see what I mean.