Hidden Treasures

 Posted by at 12:13 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 132014

Years ago we met a couple who had been fulltiming for a year and were going to get off the road because they had seen everything there was to see in the entire country. And that included a trip to Alaska! The husband said they left Seattle June 1st and were back July 4th. “The trip just about tore our motorhome and toad to pieces, and we never saw an animal all the way up and back,” he told me. I imagine not! It’s hard to see much when you’re bouncing over frost heaves at 65 miles per hour!

I guess my traveling style is a lot different than theirs. I couldn’t see all of New Jersey in a year, let alone the whole country. There is just too much waiting to be discovered tucked away on the back roads and small towns from coast to coast.

We found one such hidden gem yesterday in the small Rappahannock River town of Port Royal, Virginia. Not much more than a crossroads at the junction of U.S. Highways 17 and 301, at one time Port Royal was a major shipping port, and it played a role in a dark moment in our history.

On the run from the Union Army after assassinating President Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theater in Washington, John Wilkes Booth and four co-conspirators crossed the river here and stopped at the home of Randolph Peyton, in its time the finest home in Port Royal. Peyton was away on business and the group told his sister, Sarah Jane Peyton, that Booth was a wounded Confederate soldier.

Brockenbrough house

She became suspicious and ordered them to leave, so they went on another two or three miles to the farm of Richard Garrett. It was there that a posse of Federal soldiers caught up with them and found the assassin hiding in a tobacco barn. After Booth refused to surrender, the soldiers set the barn on fire and shot him when he tried to escape. He was carried to the porch of the Garrett house, where he died. Today the old farm is gone and the land is part of the Army’s Fort A.P. Hill. Historical markers on the highway note the location where the action took place.

Booth died sign

We poked around the little town for a while and then drove south about 30 miles to Tappahannock, another Rappahannock River town that has fared much better over the years. Reader Marty Leake had recommended we try Lowery’s Seafood Restaurant, and I’m glad we did because it was excellent! We both had seafood platters that included haddock, shrimp, oysters, crab cakes and scallops and neither of us could finish. This one definitely goes into our Favorite Restaurants book!

Be sure to enter this week’s Free Drawing for an autographed copy of John and Kathy Huggins’ excellent book, So, You Want to be a Workamper? To enter, all you have to do is click on the Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.


Thought For The Day – Fear doesn’t exist anywhere except in the mind. – Dale Carnegie

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  7 Responses to “Hidden Treasures”

  1. You hit the nail on the head. The biggest reason to stay off the interstates. I’ve also found the back roads seem to be in better condition sometimes. What a thrill to stand in the spot where an event in history took place.

  2. You should check out the History Channel show DeCoded, they investigate history legions and they investigated if Boone really died in that fire and they had proof that he didn’t.
    We are history nuts and can’t wait to retire and go on the road, I want to visit every president birthplace!

  3. Soory I spelt his name wrong, Booth. I am better at math.

  4. Lois I have heard the same theories about everybody from Blackbeard to Jesse James to John Dillinger to Elvis to JFK.

  5. America lives in small towns.

  6. We love that area. Take a little visit to the Rappahannock River NWR. They have a great little pond to drop in your kayak. Oh and stop in the office and “say hey” to the staff for us. We loved volunteering there. You know you are in the Pinners stomping grounds right???? Oh and hit up those great wineries and eat Rappahannock River Oysters.

  7. Jan’s Grandmother is from St. Stephens Church, just up the road towards Richmond from Tappahannock. Her family has been in that part of Virginia since the mid 1600’s – family name is Fleet. We toured the area some years ago in the fall with her cousins Betsy and Mary Fleet of “Green Mount.” You all are soo lucky to be there this time of year as fall arrives. You cannot see all the history you are surrounded with in Tidewater Virginia.

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