A piece of history made its way back to its original location a recently when the Department of Transportation (VDOT) reinstalled a nearly 200-year-old mile marker on what used to be known as the Manchester-Petersburg Turnpike. Today the turnpike is known as Jefferson Davis Highway and only four mile-markers remain on the “Pike.” The reinstalled mile-marker is known as Mile-Marker 6, designating six miles from Manchester. It is located in front of the new Dollar General Store in Bensley.
According to Ann Miller, senior research scientist for the Virginia Center for Transportation Innovation and Research, there could be as many as 20 markers, but said she has seen documentation for only 10. The additional three accounted for are Mile-Marker 1, located at the Model Tobacco Company; Mile-Marker 7, located in front of the former Butterworth’s Furniture Store; and Mile-Marker 9, located across from What-A-Burger at Reyment Road.
The top of Mile-Marker 6 was knock off and brought to VDOT for storage. It was longtime Bensley resident, Brian Walker, who knew of its existence on the site and asked the excavators to keep a lookout for its base when prepping the ground for the new Dollar General.
“It’s funny how people can get excited over a piece of stone,” he said. “I told the excavator about the stone and if he found it to let me know. About a week later when I stopped by he said ‘when I ran into it, I knew exactly what it was.’” Weighing a couple of hundred pounds, Walker said he picked it up with the dozer and hurled it into his pick-up truck and delivered it to VDOT. That’s when the excitement started and plans began to reinstall it.
Greg Whirley, VDOT’s commission said the road stone is an important piece of Virginia history because it tells the story of how people navigated throughout the commonwealth during a time when the usual modes of transportation were by foot, on horseback or by carriage.
According to VDOT, road stones are eligible for the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places.