In 1818, Travelers Still Had To Pay The Toll Man
SOMERSET, Pa. (AP) – A historical landmark of the National Road in Addison Borough could have been reduced to a gas station in 1919.
But the Great Crossings Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution bought the Petersburg Tollhouse to save it from demolition. Now the group leads tours at the historical site.
The National Road was completed in 1818. Towns along the road celebrate the festival with their own events. Addison held its events Thursday through Sunday. The road, which is now Route 40 in Somerset County, was known as the gateway to the West, connecting the Potomac and Ohio rivers.
Addison is one of a few towns to have its tollhouse still standing.
“This is the first version of the turnpike,” DAR member Debbie Pyle said.
She said the system was developed to raise funds for road maintenance. The more narrow the wagon wheels, the more damage was caused and the higher the toll.
Tollhouses were placed about 15 miles apart.
Toll collectors lived in the house with their families. Collectors would take the tolls in the parlor. Downstairs is a living room and a kitchen.
“Everything was cooked over an open fire,” she said. “Everything took hours, whatever you did.”
Up a spiral staircase is a small alcove that served as a bedroom for the children and a larger bedroom for the parents. Pyle said the bedroom once had a large window looking out to catch “pikers,” or travelers attempting to escape a toll.
Pikers were fined $3 for evading the toll.
Pyle said she gave several tours during the festival. Children especially enjoyed hearing about the tollhouse.
Other activities on Sunday included a car show, art displays and vendors.
Festival Chairman Marcy Kalasky said about 400 people came to Old Pike Days at the Addison Community Park.
“Everybody was satisfied,” she said. “I didn’t have anybody complaining.”
Old Petersburg-Addison Historical Society President Joan Whetsell said about 29 cars were shown at the car show.
“The weather cooperated beautifully, so everyone was happy about that,” she said. “We were very pleased overall.”