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La Vale Toll Gate House

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1835–1836. 14302 National Highway (US 40).
  • (Photograph by Chris Stevens)
  • (Photograph by Chris Stevens)
  • (Photograph by Chris Stevens)

The La Vale Toll Gate House is a noteworthy surviving example of an early tollhouse along the National Road, the first federal highway. Authorized by Congress in 1806, the National Road was built in 1811–1818 as an ambitious effort to promote commercial travel between Western Maryland and the Ohio River. It commenced in Cumberland and became the main transportation route to the trans-Appalachian West. The federal government operated it without tolls. In the early 1830s, following controversy over the use of federal funds and growing competition from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, the federal government turned the National Road over to the states. Maryland accepted its portion in 1835, established a toll rate schedule, and began building tollhouses, the first of which was in La Vale.

The La Vale Toll Gate House, located approximately six miles west of Cumberland, was the first one erected by the State of Maryland. The seven-sided building features a distinctive, two-story polygonal section topped by a decorative cupola and surrounded by a one-story porch. More conventional one-story wings extend from the rear and side. Tollhouses in the Pennsylvania section of the National Road exhibit a similar polygonal form, differentiating these small-scale public buildings from their domestic neighbors.

Early expectations that tolls would cover the cost of highway maintenance and further construction soon proved to be false. The toll road gradually fell into disrepair as railroad transportation became dominant in the region. The State of Maryland turned the road over to the relevant counties in 1878. In 1925 portions of the National Road, including the section in La Vale, were incorporated into the construction of U.S. Route 40. The La Vale Toll Gate House was preserved and restored in the late 1960s, becoming a rare survivor of its type.

Writing Credits

Lisa P. Davidson
Lisa P. Davidson
Catherine C. Lavoie



  • 1835


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Lisa P. Davidson, "La Vale Toll Gate House", [La Vale, Maryland], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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