Searight’s Tollhouse on the National Road

The National Road, a federal road, stretched from Cumberland, Maryland, into Ohio by 1831. The heavily trafficked road required maintenance that the federal government wanted to turn over to the states.

Pennsylvania adopted an act to build six toll gates along the National Road—also known as the Cumberland Road—in the Commonwealth.

Built in 1835, Searight’s Tollhouse is one of Pennsylvania’s two remaining toll houses on the National Road. It is five miles northwest of Uniontown.

William Searight was one of the wealthiest men in the area at the time. Searight’s Tavern stood at the junction of Searight’s Crossroads. He owned a general store, wagon shop, blacksmith shop, and a livery stable in addition to running the post office.

Political connections helped Searight to become the Commonwealth’s Commissioner of the Cumberland Road in 1842. Searight bore the responsibility for all operations and received $730 per year.

Pennsylvania’s other toll house still standing is the Petersburg Toll House. Located in Addison, it was the first toll gate after crossing into the Commonwealth. The toll keeper’s annual salary was $200 with free housing.

Toll rates in Pennsylvania were collected for all types of vehicles—chariots, stages, phaetons, chaises, coaches, coachees, carts, wagons, and carriages. Drovers of sheep paid a rate of 6 cents for every score (20).

Anyone who refused or neglected to pay their toll received a fine of $3.

Pennsylvania collected tolls to maintain the road from 1835 to 1905.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Sources

Day, Reed B. The Cumberland Road: A History of the National Road, Closson Press, 1996.

Edited by Raitz, Karl. A Guide to The National Road, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996.

“National Road Sculpture Tour,” National Road PA, 2017/04/22 http://nationalroadpa.org/touch-of-history/.

Schneider, Norris F. The National Road: Main Street of America, The Ohio Historical Society, 1975.

“Searight’s Tollhouse Historical Marker,” Exporepahistory.com, 2017/04/22 http://explorepahistory.com/hmarker.php?markerId=1-A-F2.

“Searights Tollhouse, National Road,” Wikipedia, 2017/04/24  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Searights_Tollhouse,_National_Road.

 

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