JERUSALEM AND BOYDTON PLANK ROADS
Plank roads were used widely in Virginia in the years 1830-1850 because they were fairly simple to build and relatively inexpensive using the abundant timber in the region. Also, planks could be laid over an existing road, so little grading was needed. A typical plank road consisted of a single track 8-12 feet wide, with 3-inch thick planks placed crosswise over log stringers. Ditches were dug on each side to shunt water away from the roadbed. Road companies expected to recoup maintenance costs by levying tolls on travelers, thus a toll gate every few miles. But within a few years of construction, it proved impossible to keep the roads in good repair. Logs rotted in the ground, planks warped in the sun or snapped under the wheels of heavy wagons, and after a time negotiating a plank road became a perilous operation. By the Civil War most plank roads in Virginia had reverted to the dirt tracks these once were.