Postcard circa 1940s: Kummerlowe
Afton, Virginia

Rockfish Gap, where the Afton Howard Johnson's Restaurant was sited, is historically significant, for it was a gateway to the West for Americans well into the 19th century. In fact, Meriwether Lewis (famous as the leader of the 1805 Corps of Discovery with William Clark) was born in Albemarle County, Virginia in 1774 within sight of the Gap! His trek to the Pacific helped set the stage which led to the United States of America being a continental nation.

Moreover the Gap was once site of the Rockfish Inn which in 1818 hosted James Monroe, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and 18 other notables who met to determine where to site the University of Virginia. Later, during the middle 19th century the Rockfish Inn was expanded and renamed as the Mountain Top Hotel. The site remained a popular place for tourists and travellers until the early 1900s. Unfortunately it burned to the ground, save for its stone walls, in the early part of the 20th century and it is believed that its ruins were subsequently removed either upon the opening of the Afton Howard Johnson's Restaurant or its adjacent motor Court. But it is perhaps more likely that the 19th century ruins were displaced by the construction of Interstate 64.

Also known as Waynesboro or Swannanoa, the Afton Howard Johnson's Restaurant is believed to have opened in late 1948. It was strategically located at the juncture of the Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway--a geographically important place for tourism through much of the 20th century. Moreover, to ensure a steady stream of patrons, Afton was sited on a major U.S. highway leading west through Rockfish Gap, about midway between Staunton and Charlottesville. The building itself was a Canton-type of neo-colonial design, so called because it followed the general plan of the Canton, Massachusetts Restaurant.

Postcard (detail) circa 1940s: Kummerlowe
Postcard circa 1940s: Kummerlowe
Postcard circa 1950s: Kummerlowe
Skyline Parkway Motor Lodge Waynesboro, Virginia Located on top of the Beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, Cool, Comfortable, Modern Cottages. Each with an unsurpassed view of The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Easily accessible from Staunton, Waynesboro, or Charlottesville on Route 250 at the Junction of Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway. Howard Johnson Restaurant & Gulf Service Station (Adjacent for your convenience)
Postcard 1952: Kummerlowe
Postcard circa 1950s: Kummerlowe
Brochure circa 1960s: Kummerlowe
Postcard circa 1960s: Kummerlowe

Business card 1998: Kummerlowe
Photographs August 1998: Kummerlowe


The last "Johnson" Girls and Guys graciously posed for a couple of quick shots at Afton's Dairy Bar for me in the summer of 1998! Whilst I am glad to have had the privilege of being there and of having been able to use my rudimentary circa 1998 digital camera to snap photos, I regret not to have better documented their stories, their names, and their place in Afton's last throes...

Lasting an incredible fifty years, 1998 marked the Afton HoJo's last season of serving Howard Johnson's famous fried clams, frankfurters, and at least a few of what had once been the famous 28 flavors of ice cream.

Post WW II United States was exceptional in too many ways to count here! Among those Americans fortunate enough to have enjoyed that era of progress and prosperity during that special time in history there was the assurance of standardized quality from Howard Johnson's Restaurants amidst the "wild-west" of roadside eatery uncertainty! The Afton HoJo's Restaurant and its adjacent motel were developed by Alvin Tandy Dulaney and then following his death the hospitality enterprise was transferred to his heirs with James "Phil" Dulaney being the principal in charge.


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