- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 4, 2005

MONTICELLO, Va. (AP) — A horse-drawn carriage is retracing Thomas Jefferson’s famous footsteps on a three-day journey from his home outside Charlottesville to his Bedford County retreat.

The three-day trip began Friday. Now, by car, it would take just less than two hours.

Nobody has ever tried to retrace the path, which has been reconstructed based on the probable locations of inns, a ferry crossing of the James River, bridges and other 19th-century landmarks that Jefferson mentioned in his papers.

On Friday, six members of the Coaching Club, an organization dedicated to preserving the pastime of carriage riding, headed southwest from Charlottesville to Bedford County in an antique coach pulled by four horses.

?The purpose of the ride is to prove it can still be done,? said Doug Kemmerer, a club member participating in the ride.

Members planned to arrive at Poplar Forest this afternoon.

?This is very much the road less traveled,? said Lynn Beebe, president of a nonprofit foundation that has been restoring Jefferson’s octagonal-shaped home and conducting archaeological digs at Poplar Forest since 1984.

The club, founded in 1875 as the New York Coaching Club, participates yearly in similar re-enactment rides and sporting events in which participants are judged on their horsemanship skills.

The coach that members are using to re-enact Jefferson’s ride was built in London in 1903 and was once owned by Alfred Vanderbilt.

Jefferson began construction of the home at Poplar Forest in 1806. He finished his second term as president in March 1809, and from that year to 1823 he made 41 trips between Monticello and his Bedford County retreat, Poplar Forest historians say.

Mr. Kemmerer said about 70 percent of Jefferson’s route still exists in Albemarle, Buckingham, Appomattox and Bedford counties.

Jefferson mapped out his 126-mile route based on comfort level, looking for roads or passages that were level and flat.

The journey, he wrote in a letter, should be ?as direct as can be had tolerably level; for levelness is still a more important consideration than distance.?


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