Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Jordan Road Ride

Today was a balmy day in the 70's with sunny skies and a shimmer of green on the trees about to bud out.  Yesterday I drove an hour south to Roanoke to run some errands and got a sneak peak at the crabapple blossoms which will be headed our way any day now.  The clocks sprang forward at the same time that spring is bursting forth!

Although it was warm today, last week we had our second snow of the year!  It melted quickly and the next morning was bright and clear, crispy but not cold.    

A perfect morning for meeting with friends and riding good horses! 

 We made our way along old Jordan's Road,
climbing gradually for almost 4 miles toward the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

Wendy and Patty used their saws to clear away this tree while Barb and I supervised! 
(Joe and Sarge weren't invited along on this "Ladies Only" ride!)

As we got higher the spotty snow got thicker 

until it was a shallow carpet.   

Up we went until we reached the Blue Ridge Parkway, 
where we stopped to visit and eat lunch in the middle of the pavement. 
We weren't tempting fate:  the Parkway was closed to traffic because of the snow!  

Did you notice what a fine level "trail" we were following?  
Can you see the perfect grade and how it's cut into the hillside so neatly?  

Here's a view showing old Jordan Rd silhouetted across the hillside.  It makes such a gradual climb and is so well constructed that it's hard to believe that it actually makes an ascent up to the top of the Blue Ridge in just a few miles.    

When the road was built in the early 1800's by Colonel John Jordan, it was considered a fantastic accomplishment:  one previously thought to be impossible.  It opened up trade between Lexington and points to the east which had been so close and yet so far away. 

Trade routes were important to Jordan who was involved in nearly all aspects of commerce in the county.  Grist mills, saw mills, foundries, mines, blacksmith shops, etc were all part of his "portfolio" and to further his profits from these businesses,  he built not only several mountain roads but also canals and locks. 

While we were enjoying our ride back down the to our horse trailers, I thought about Colonel Jordan and admired his road building abilities.  And of course, that evening I had to Google him!  If a man could build a road that had survived clinging to the side of the mountain for 200 years, he probably had built a few other things!

Indeed, roads and commerce were secondary to his passions of  architecture and construction. A self taught craftsman, many of Jordan's homes and public buildings are still standing.    

Oh the things you can learn when you Google! 

The literal and figurative heart of Washington and Lee's campus is the iconic red brick and white columned Colonnade, and Jordan was the designer and builder of Washington Hall which stands at its center!  Built in 1824, it was the first Revival style building on campus and it set the tone for the future architectural style of not only the university but also the town.  

Washington Hall is a vital thriving place while old Jordan Rd has become an obsolete pathway.  

I'm grateful to have experienced both places. 

Thank you Colonel Jordan!


  1. Lovin' that last photo! I am always amazed at the history of our state and the engineering feats by men years ago. Have you been to Monticello yet? It's one of my favorite places in the state.

  2. love to see the horses and their prints in the snow. looks like a great trail.

  3. Great photos!! I love rides like this... but I want to see more of YOUR horse... such an unusual color :-)

  4. Wonderful views and really enjoyed seeing the snow too. You do get some wonderful perspectives when riding. Also the info on Colonel Jordan was interesting and I agree that you do learn so much more when you Google something!

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