This is the first of two volumes of a project to compile, convert to electronic format, and index the “Backsights” series of essays on Virginia transportation history. Between 1972 and 2007, these essays, by various authors, periodically appeared in various publications of the Virginia Department of Transportation, originally in the Bulletin and subsequently in the newsletter of the Virginia Transportation Technology Transfer Center. The essays will be presented in two volumes: Volume I, the current volume, includes all the articles in the initial series (1972-1985); Volume II will include all the articles in the second series (2000 to 2007). These articles cover a wide range of subject matter, from topics specific to Virginia transportation through the years to articles that place Virginia transportation in a national and international context. The topics are as diverse as short biographies of pioneering road and bridge builders; major early highways in Virginia; the role of women in 18th and 19th century transportation; early road and bridge specifications and building practices; the growth of railroads; the evolution of public transportation in Virginia; the varying experiences of travelers throughout Virginia’s history; the rise of the automobile age; the history of taverns in Virginia; and transportation-related historic preservation and cultural resource issues.
Although the majority of these articles are long out of print, copies have been regularly requested and utilized by historical and cultural resource researchers, as well as by members of the general public. The requests for specific articles, as well as for information on early roads, turnpikes, canals, etc., have demonstrated the need for this compilation.
These volumes will provide direct electronic access to all of the “Backsights” essays from the inception of the series in 1972 through 2007, along with a comprehensive index for each volume. These essays are utilized by VDOT environmental and cultural resource personnel, as well as by transportation historians, academic and professional historical and cultural resource researchers, and interested members of the public.