Inne at Watson's Choice

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Searight Toll House

 
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Searight Toll House

No highway in America has a more historic background or played a more important part in the opening of the Western Territory than the old National Road. The Boston Post Road, Boones Trace, The Natchez Trace, The Oregon Road and The Santa Fe Trail, all have their places in American history. They have an important part in the development of our country but the National Road has a story all its own.

The National Road was authorized by the federal government in 1806, in response to the need to connect East and West by a national transportation system. The section which crossed Pennsylvania began in Cumberland, Maryland - thus earning the title of the "Cumberland Road" and ended in Wheeling, in what was then Virginia.

This project is unique in our nation's history for it was and remains the only road system wholly constructed by the Federal Government. Construction of the road through mountain and forest wilderness was both costly and tedious. It took five years to complete this first section, and it was estimated that the road between Uniontown and Washington, Pennsylvania, alone cost $6,400 a mile. Construction on the road to the west, through Ohio, Indiana and Illinois continued after travel on the Pennsylvania section began. In time, the cost and difficulty in maintaining the road made the federal government anxious to hand the responsibility for it to the states which it crossed. In 1835 Pennsylvania agreed to administer her part of the road, and authorized the erection of six Tollhouses, approximately fifteen miles apart, to aid in the collection of the necessary revenue.

Searights Tollhouse recieved its name from its location near the village of Searights, named for its most prominent citizen, William Searight. Searight owned a prosperous tavern on the National Road , the ruins of which may still be seen today. He had been a contractor for the road, and was later appointed commissioner of the Pennsylvania section, but he seems to have had no connection with the tollhouse itself. The years immediately following the construction of the Tollhouses saw a never ending stream of traffic, both east and west. Wagoners, drovers, stage drivers, and mail expresses left their colorful imprints on the road's history. With the coming of the railroads to Western Pennsylvania in the 1850's, traffic over the road declined, and after the Civil War it was used chiefly for local trips. Tolls were collected until 1905. The advent of the automobile in the early twentieth century rescued the road from disrepair, and by the 1920's the National Road was reincarnated as U.S. 40. The Searights Tollhouse is one of two remaining of the original six commissioned Tollhouses in Pennsylvania.

 


Contact Information

The Tollhouse is open Tuesday thru Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm and Sunday 2 pm thru 6 pm between the months of mid- May thru mid-October. Admission is $1 for adults and children are free.

For more information please call (724) 439-4422.

Directions from the Inne at Watson's Choice

  • Turn Left on Route 21 East
  • Travel 1.9 miles to intersection (YWBA on Left)
  • Turn Left on Duck Hollow Road
  • Travel 0.8 miles to intersection.
  • Turn Right on New Salem Road
  • Travel 1.2 miles to intersection of US40
  • Turn Left onto US40 West
  • Travel 3.5 mi on US40 West
  • Turn Left into Searights Tollhouse

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