On the Trail of Patrick Henry

Ashland Travel Blog

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Ashland, Virginia
Friday's early September weather would be perfect for a road trip, so Susan and I decided to get an early start on the Labor Day holiday weekend. We would be going to Hanover County to see Scotchtown, the home of Revoultionary War patriot Patrick Henry. This historic house is not so far away, but it is off the beaten path. To get there, we drove down Interstate 95 towards Ashland, Virignia, north of Richmond. On the way we stopped at the I-95 Virignia Welcome Center near Fredericksburg.  (Most Virginia highway rest stops have recently been closed as a cost saving measure for the state, but this one, as an official Welcome Center, remains open.
Ashland Amtrak station and Visitor Center
) I hoped to pick up additional literature on Scotchtown, but they had none. We did gather a few ideas for future road trips, though! (They also were giving out free bags of Virginia peanuts--yum.)

Ashland is a popular highway stop along I-95. Route 54 leading into town from the I-95 interchange is lined with all manner of food establishments and motels. The downtown retains its small market town character, though. A unique characteristic of this locale is the mainline railway line that runs right down the middle of the main street. Freight trains and Amtrak passenger trains come right through the downtown business district several times a day. (This is more common in the far West, but very unusual in the East.) We continued right on along Route 54 through Ashland, to return after our visit to the historic house.
The railway bisects downtown Ashland

Patrick Henry, most famously known for his "Give me liberty or give me death!" speech delivered in Richmond in 1775, was born in Hanover County in 1736. He became a country lawyer, riding circuit and practicing at Hanover Court House. He and his family moved to Scotchtown Plantation in 1771. Scotchtown is located about 12 miles (20 km) from Ashland. New housing is now going up nearby, but it is in the "middle of nowhere" surrounded by miles of farmland. It did not take long to reach the turnoff for the house and there were signs pointing the way.  (Along the way we passed Patrick Henry High School, home of the Patriots.)

Arriving at Scotchtown, we noted few cars in the parking lot.  It definitely does not receive the volume of visitors that other historic house museums like James Madison's Montpelier receive.
Henry Clay Inn (Ashland Hotel)
We checked in at the gift shop, located in Patrick Henry's resotred law office, and purchased tickets for the house tour. A tour was just starting--with only one other visitor. (She was from California. We gave her recommendations on other historic house sites to visit.) Our informative docent was from the area and could remember the house before the Association for the Preservatiin of Virginia Antiquities acquired it in 1958. The interior tour included all of the rooms and the full basement and information about Patrick Henry before his rise to fame.

The sunny day provided ample opportunities for photographing the exterior and the reconstructed Kitchen and Law Office outbuildings. Four huge 18th century boxwoods dominate the front of the house. But, we learend they may need to be removed because their roots are causing water damage to the foundation of the strucutre.

Our docent gave us several recommendations for lunch in Ashland. It was 2:00 p.m. by the time we returned to town and her first recommended restaurant has just stopped serving lunch. So, we went  to the next, the Smokey Pig, for barbecue. (See review.)

After lunch, it was time to seek out more of Patrick Henry's story.  This we found at Hanover Court House.
bkretzer says:
Another good one!
Posted on: Sep 16, 2009
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Ashland, Virginia
Ashland, Virginia
Ashland Amtrak station and Visitor…
Ashland Amtrak station and Visito…
The railway bisects downtown Ashla…
The railway bisects downtown Ashl…
Henry Clay Inn (Ashland Hotel)
Henry Clay Inn (Ashland Hotel)
Ashland Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Great Barbecue at The Smokey Pig
When Susan and I asked about places to have lunch in Ashland, the docent at Scotchtown recommended The Smokey Pig. We enjoy a good barbeque restaurant… read entire review
photo by: Andy99