The heights and benches of Allegheny Mountain were settled soon after the valley farms. The Yeagers, family descendents of the original settler John Yeager, owned much of the top of Allegheny. Despite the harsh conditions at the high altitude, families continued to live along the turnpike route across the mountain into the early twentieth century. Following the building of the paved highway along a different route, many of the families moved out. Today, only the lower couple of miles of the old turnpike route near Bartow has year-round inhabitants. The upper reaches of the mountain are mostly National Forest or privately owned grazing or timberlands, with a few scattered seasonal dwellings.
On December 13, 1861, Federal forces under Gen. Milroy attacked down the hillside on the north side of the camp. Fighting raged in the cabin area occupied by the 31st Virginia (the area now owned by the Monongahela Forest). The second wing of the Federal attack was on the main fortification up a steep slope from the southwest, on Mr. Riley's property. Both attacks were repulsed, and the Confederates held the site. They remained in the camp throughout the bitter winter of 1861, and pulled out in April of 1862. At 4,400 feet elevation, it was the highest fortification in the eastern theater of the war.
The historic features of Camp Allegheny are dramatically well preserved, and the remoteness and integrity of the site are truly impressive. The Monongahela National Forest has put up interpretive signs, and they have brochures available. The private portion of the site has no interpretation or protective measures.
This Civil War encampment and battle site,listed on the National Register, is mostly in private ownership. It covers over 200 acres on several hills on both sides of the turnpike with extensive earthworks and cannon emplacements. Well-preserved earthworks are visible on the hill between the modern road and the turnpike, the hill to the southwest of the turnpike, and extending back from these some distance. There is a family graveyard on one hill, and a Civil War soldiers graveyard on another hill. There were also earthworks overlooking the river farther west, and some trenches still remain flanking the old Green Bank road to the west of State Road 28. Much of the camp land is open pasture, with some brush and copses of trees.
In the upper Greenbrier Valley, settlers moved in during the 1880's. They followed a road known as the Riffle Road, which led over Allegheny Mountain, through the Greenbrier valley and over Cheat Mountain to the head of Riffle Run in the Tygarts Valley. Four families established farms in the rich Greenbrier valley. The Arbogasts, Yeagers and Burners near what is now Bartow, were of German descent. The Slavens on the lower eastern slopes of Cheat Mountain were Scotch-Irish. The post office of Traveller's Repose was established in 1814, but the area remained a collection of farming homesteads.
Tall black cherry, red and sugar maples, yellow birch, green ash, beech and other hardwoods tower over open gentle understories in the Middle Mountain area. Deer, grouse, and wild turkey are often seen in this region. Southern access is from Thornwood, on WV 28 and US 250.
The river bisects a typical long, mostly flat valley. Steep slopes rise on either side, partially covered in second and third growth hardwoods. Settlement in the valley remained scattered farms through most of the nineteenth century. The turnpike ran along the northern edge of the valley, at the base of the mountain. The modern road in many places runs lower down through the commercial districts of the later towns. Some logging began in the 19 th century with logs being floated down the river in yearly log drives. With the coming of the railroad to Durbin in 1903, logging became profitable, with the major sawmill located at Dunleavey, now Thornwood, and a short distance east of Bartow. All of the woodlands in the area were cut, and the logs shipped out by rail. Bartow developed as the stockyard for rail shipment, and a tannery was established at Frank. As these various industries declined through the later 20 th century, the remoteness of the area reasserted itself. Some logging still takes place, with a sawmill in Bartow, but all shipping is now by truck. The railroad is inactive, and the last rails are threatened with abandonment. The Frank tannery is now closed, and unemployment in the valley is high.
The original log home site of John Yeager an early settler to Greenbrier Valley ca. 1782. The first Post Office of Traveller’s Repose would have been founded in this house in 1814. His family used the house until Traveller's Repose was built along the turnpike route, when both family and Post Office moved to that location. A locally made marker identifies the site.
Several historic springs are along the turnpike to provide water to people and horses that passed. One is on Allegheny Mountain on Forest Service property across the turnpike from the site of the original Yeager cabin. Others are on private property.
The Greenbank High School planted a pine tree plantation along the turnpike near the Yeager homesite.
This Turnpike building is listed on the National Register. The original building was built soon after the turnpike was built, by Andrew Yeager. Traveller’s Repose served as an inn and stage stop, and was the first stop west of the Alleghenies. The original building was in the field of fire during the Battle of Greenbrier River, and was supposed to have been hit by 26 cannon balls. It was used as headquarters by troops stationed at Camp Bartow. Camp Bartow was built on this property on the hills above the house, and across the turnpike. Bushwhackers burned the house sometime later during the war. The existing house was built beginning in 1866. Andrew's son, Peter Dilly Yeager, ran the inn and stage stop, as well as a toll station for the turnpike.
The inn as built after the war was a two-story I house with a large extension in the rear. In the early 20 th century, the back extension of the house was replaced with a smaller two-story ell with a kitchen and dining room. A porch on the west side has been enclosed as a sun porch, and a sleeping porch extends out over the center of the front porch.
The forest features maples, ash, oak, cherry, birch, spruce, ferns, and wildflowers. Wildlife includes deer, turkey, red squirrel, owls, and songbirds.
In 1902, a group of Wheeling investors joined with Howes Brothers Company of Boston, Massachusetts, to incorporate and build the Pocahontas Tanning Company in Durbin. Mr. John W. Goodsell of Olean, New York designed, constructed, and managed the tannery. Housing was built for the workers, and the new community was named Frank after the first names of two of the incorporators. The location was chosen to utilize the abundance of hemlock bark made available by the lumbering in the area. The tannery remained in business for many years, through changes in the needs of the tanning business and several changes of management. A separate post office for Frank was established in 1926. The tannery finally went out of business and closed its doors in 1993. Many of the houses in Frank were company houses built to house tannery workers.
The small farming community that would become Durbin had in 1898 a general store, a post office, and two houses. Some logging was being done, and logs were floated down the river to market. The railroad arrived in 1903, and the town boomed. John T. McGraw bought the town site and named it Durbin after a friend. It was incorporated in 1906. The town prospered from the logging industry with a boomtown atmosphere, boasting saloons, a hotel, and a bank. The town’s commercial area extends along the north side of the highway, with the railroad station and tracks on the south side. The old turnpike route went along the hill above the highway, which is now the residential section of town. Some sections follow existing streets or alleys, but a few places are totally abandoned and now run through yards. One old house faces the old pike, now in its back yard.
Durbin’s buildings have not been surveyed in detail, but seem highly likely to have significance and integrity to be eligible as a National Register Historic District. They include the Durbin Train Depot, a row of commercial buildings facing the highway, many from the town boom days, and the residential section behind and uphill from the commercial area with many houses remaining from town boom days.
A high broad ridge with two summits and a high plateau in between. The lower slopes on the east side had some settlements, including the historic Slaven plantation mentioned in some Civil War accounts, but no buildings remain from that period. After the road reaches the first peak, at the county line between Pocahontas and Randolph Counties, the terrain is still rough, but less steep. Here to the north is an excellent vista or mountains and valleys. Some remains of first growth spruce forest remain, in the Gaudineer Knob area of the Monongahela Forest, just north of the turnpike on a well marked road. Shavers Fork River runs along the top of the plateau, and the historic Cheat Bridge over Shavers Fork was located a short distance south of the modern highway bridge. On the west side is another peak, then a steep decline into the Tygarts Valley.
Located .8 mile above Cheat Bridge (off of Cheat Mountain Backway) on Shavers Fork
As early as 1887 the Cheat Mountain Sportsmen Association had organized and built a clubhouse here. The current lodge was completed in 1912. In 1915 two clubs merged to become the Allegheny Sportsman’s Club leasing over 50,000 acres for conservation and hunting. The large 3-story log lodge is now owned by a group of investors, and is run as an inn.
This Civil War National Register site is located on both sides of the Cheat Mountain Backway south of U.S. Route 250, just west of Shavers Fork river on the top of Cheat Mountain and is a part of the Monongahela National Forest. The fort at about 4,000 feet elevation was also known as Camp Milroy or White Top. It was built in the late summer and fall of 1861, and was occupied periodically from July 1861 through April 1862 by from several hundred to several thousand Federal troops. Gen. McClellan ordered its construction before he left for Washington, and six companies of the 14th Indiana Infantry started construction on July 16, 1861. The spruce forest for some distance around the fort was cleared, and the large timbers used to construct abatis, buildings, and walls for the fort. The encampment originally consisted of a large earth and log fortification and a blockhouse on a hillside northeast of the pass where the turnpike crossed "White Top." A second, smaller enclosure was located just across the turnpike to the southwest. A covered, or semi-subterranean, passage connected the two. Southwest of the turnpike, cabins were erected along the hillside and a burial ground established nearby.
The completed fortress was believed to be impregnable to both artillery and frontal assault, but it was never directly attacked. The fort was under the command of Colonel Nathan Kimball, and on September 12 when Col. Rust’s attack failed to materialize, the occupants included troops of the 24th and 25th Ohio in addition to the Indiana regiment. On October 2, General Joseph J Reynolds led about 5,000 troops from Cheat Summit on their "reconnaissance in force" of Camp Bartow. General Robert H. Milroy had just taken over command when he led about 1,800 troops against Camp Allegheny on December 13. Most of these troops then spent the remainder of that harsh winter on the exposed mountain top at Cheat Summit.
The area surrounding the fort has been heavily impacted by strip mining activities, and no features remain on the south side of the turnpike. The soldiers buried in the cemetery there have long since been removed to the Grafton National Cemetery. High-voltage electric lines impact the parking area along the old turnpike route. The main fortification on the north side was skirted by the strip mining, is well preserved, and retains excellent integrity. The roughly circular walls of the parapet are mostly intact, and today consist of a rock and earth embankment with a deep ditch on the outer perimeter. Remains of at least 20 winter huts are marked by chimney falls and outlines of cabins inside the fort. The Forest Service has constructed walking trails, cleared brush and sight lines, repaired damage from roads through the fort, and installed interpretive signs, a small viewing platform in the center of the fort, and an overlook on the top of the facing hill.
The Tygarts Valley is fairly wide, flat to rolling, with much good farm land. The upper area around Huttonsville is underlain with gravel and drains well. The flatter sections farther north towards Beverly tend to be wet, and have to be artificially drained. There are rolling foothills on both sides of the valley that are suitable for hill homesteads, before the land rises steeply to the long ridges of Cheat Mountain on the east and Rich Mountain on the west.
In 1772, Captain Benjamin Wilson led a number of permanent settlers into the valley. Six forts were built - usually stout log homes that could be easily defended from Indian attacks where families could gather when threatened. Jacob Westfall’s Fort was built in 1772 near what would become the Files home site. Other forts in the Valley included Roney's on Leading Creek, Friend's on the north side of what is now Elkins, Wilson's near the mouth of Chenoweth Creek, Currence's on Mill Creek, and Haddan's near Elkwater. These reinforced log homes generally featured inside chimneys, and holes between the logs to use for firing muskets. The Indians rarely attacked such forts directly, but sometimes attacked parties of settlers caught away from shelter. Indian attacks continued through the Revolutionary War years, with 1777 becoming known as the "bloody year of the three sevens." The last Indian attacks in the area date from about 1795.
In May of 1787 the county of Randolph was formed from Harrison County. At the first court session, held in Colonel Benjamin Wilson's house on Chenoweth Creek, a town and courthouse were planned on the site of James Westfall's land. The town of Beverly was established there in 1790 as the county seat. It quickly grew as the commercial center of the rich farming valley.
This Civil War camp site is located on the south side of the turnpike in the valley west of Cheat Mountain. It is privately owned and not marked.
This camp was a very large encampment, extensively used in the period from about July 1861 up until late fall of 1861. It served as a base camp and supply depot for the fortified camps at Cheat Summit (White Top) and Elkwater. The Federal troops in building such camps often used materials scavenged from buildings in the vicinity. Here they reused materials from the Huttonsville Academy, the old brick church, and a number of houses. Some of the bricks were used to build fireplaces.
North of the access road in front of Huttonsville Correctional Center is this late nineteenth or early twentieth century house of the Hutton – Hagler family whose farmland was among the best in the valley. It was purchased for the Correctional Center about 1936, with the prison being built in 1938. There is an HCC craft shop in the building alongside.
This house is on the site of a 2-story log house of original settler Jonathan Hutton that was burned by Union troops. The current 3-story Queen Anne style house was started in 1899 and completed in 1900 by Eugene Hutton, Jr., now a Bed & Breakfast.
The Presbyterian Church in Huttonsville replaced the previously destroyed old brick church, but it was not built until sometime in the 1870s. It was built by one of the Chenoweth family, perhaps with some help from Lemuel Chenoweth. It is a rectangular gothic revival church with a square turret topped by a conical steeple on the front corner. There are Gothic arched windows in the facade.
This is the original site of one of the frontier forts, most commonly called Currence's Fort, although it may have been built by one of the Westfalls. The surrounding community remained small, and was known by several different names, including Crickard and Dogtown. It was incorporated with the name of Mill Creek in 1903. The growth of the community came with the sawmills in the early 20th century. The Wilson family bought the largest mill in 1910. This mill sat in the bottom on the east side of town, but is long gone. The store building where the IGA is today was a part of the Wilson company store complex, and many of the houses, which remain, were built as company housing during the mill's operation.
This early 19 th century brick home is located on a small rise to the east of US Rt. 219/150 just south of Tygarts Valley High School in Mill Creek. Built by Thomas Bradley for Michael See, Jr., originally of Moorefield, Hardy County. The bricks were hand-fired at the site, and the home was not completed until about 1813. In 1828, a nephew purchased the house, Charles Cameron See, who was a contractor involved with the building of the turnpike through the valley. One of the Sees, Adam See or one of his sons, was killed nearby by being struck by a bolt of lightning while making hay. The house and farm were purchased in November 1859 by George Ward who enlisted in the Confederate army in 1863. While Mr. Ward was away, the Union army at times camped at the farm and used the house for a hospital. During this time the roof was burned. The house has remained for years in Ward family ownership, and is on the National Register. Originally a two-story 3 bay brick I house with a gable roof. The house may have originally faced toward the east, toward an earlier road that ran below the shelf on the east side of the house. The current front facade, on the west facing the modern road, has a full front porch. The home has had a major new addition added onto the east side of the building. The addition is obviously modern, sympathetic to the historic structure with no attempt to imitate it, but it is rather overwhelming in its size in relation to the original house.
Large 3-story late-19 th century yellow brick with wrap-around porch located on the west side of the turnpike across from Tygarts Valley High School in Mill Creek. It was the later home of the Ward family.
This 1930s settlement (National Register eligible) is in the Dailey and Valley Bend communities. In 1934-35 this New Deal government project developed communities by constructing homes and support structures for people who needed to be relocated from various depressed mining and timbering communities. On the east side of the turnpike in Dailey are several community structures, including a long wooden building that was a craft building, and a larger stone craft building. The main trade center, now the Country Roads Restaurant building, was the community center for the 160 or so homes in the community. The nearby lumber mill was constructed by the government and operated by the Kenoweth Corporation, to provide employment for the people living in the homestead houses. The Homestead School constructed for the project is still in service as the elementary school for the area between Beverly and Mill Creek. The service station was also a part of the homestead project, and the church dates from the same time. Some of the homes can be seen on the west side of the road across from the community buildings, but the largest concentration are on the east side of the road, and further down the road at Valley Bend. The homes were built to three basic patterns, and each one had its own land for gardens, with outbuildings and a root cellar.
A mid nineteenth century house is on the east side of the turnpike just north of Dailey. It is a classic 5-bay I house with L said to have been built by Lemuel Chenoweth.
On the east side of the turnpike between Dailey and Valley Bend is an early 19 th-century two-story log house with a modern log addition on back. It was the home of Jesse Phares who was the Civil War-time sheriff of Randolph County. He was a northern sympathizer and was appointed by northern authorities as sheriff, and not elected. Most Randolph residents did not like him because of his sympathies for the north, and tradition says he was sometimes very ruthless in serving as sheriff, enforcing laws, and collecting taxes.
This simple 1 ½ story frame house stands east of turnpike just north of the Homestead School.
The Nelson Pingley family built this house in the late 1800's, moving there from Becky's Creek. Bob Pingley who was later assistant superintendent of schools was raised here. They sold the property to the government for the Homestead School. This house is associated with the Tygart’s Valley Homesteads, and Eleanor Roosevelt visited there.
This stone monument with a simple inscription on the plaque stands on the east side of Rt. 250 across from the Daniels house. It marks the home site of original 1753 settler David Taggert who fled with his family when Indians attacked the Foyles cabin. The Tygarts Valley was named for him.
This house was built circa 1828, about the same time as the Bosworth Store property. It is a twin of the See house at Huttonsville, said to be built by the same man in the same years. It is a two story 3-bay brick house with two outside end chimneys and a small front porch. It stands behind a later white frame house, across from Taggert monument.
This early turnpike, Civil War site is located south of Beverly where the pike crosses the Tygart Valley River. One of the early turnpike bridges, built by Chenoweth, was among the bridges burned during the Civil War. It is now a modern highway concrete bridge. The hill above the bridge was the location of a Federal picket outpost for Federal forces stationed in Beverly. Entrenchments are still visible in the yard of the house and running around the hill.
This early settlement building, originally located on the east side of the road south of Beverly, has been moved to Beverly and is being restored for use as an early settlement museum. It is a two-story log building with timber-frame extension. Built by Jacob Stalnaker, Jr., one of the early settlers south of Beverly, in the late 1700s.
This early settlement site has a marker, near the mouth of Files Creek. The marker is now on the grounds of the Beverly Mobile Home Court in front of the second trailer back of the main entrance, behind the mail boxes. The Robert Foyles (Files) family was one of the first two families to settle in the valley in 1753. Indians burned their cabin near the mouth of Files Creek in the fall of 1753. All were killed except one boy who was away from home. He ran to warn the Taggart family and escaped with them. When settlers returned to the valley, Jacob Westfall, Sr. built his first home/blockhouse on approximately the same site in 1774. Jacob served as the first sheriff of Randolph County in 1787 and as County Clerk in 1793.
Westfall's Fort was a compact, tall rectangular building of hewn logs with an inside chimney and few window or door openings. It was dismantled and rebuilt on the Baker farm on the bluff on the other side of the road, and stood there until at least 1898. The monument is a small brass marker on a low stone in a flower bed with a flag pole at the corner of the trailer lot. Marker reads "Cabin Robert Foyles 1753, Westfall's Fort 1774."
When Randolph County was established in 1787, plans were made for a county seat on the lands of James Westfall. The town was at first known as Edmundton, in honor of the governor of Virginia, Edmund Jennings Randolph, and plans were ordered for building a jail and a courthouse. The log home of James Westfall, which stood on Jacob Street (now Main Street) next to where the Blackman Store was later built, was used as the early county court house. In 1790, the twenty-acre plot owned by James Westfall was laid out in one-half acre lots. It included the just completed jail, the log courthouse still under construction, and a log schoolhouse already in use in 1787. The newly chartered town was renamed Beverly, in honor of the new governor, Beverley Randolph.
Beverly developed as the county seat and the commercial center of the rich farming valley. The community boasted a wide range of products and services. There were a number of stores, such as the Blackman store and Crawford's. Several hotels, including Peter Buckey's and the Valley House served the needs of travelers. The town had blacksmith shops, a toy factory, gunsmith shops, tailors, boot makers, a hat maker, carpenters and cabinet makers, wagon makers, saddlery shops, and a tannery. For most of this period Dr. Squire Bosworth was the community's doctor, and lawyers such as David Goff were prominent in county and state affairs. Beverly resident Lemuel Chenoweth built many of the covered bridges on the turnpikes, including the one crossing the river at Beverly. Widely known and respected as a bridge builder he built his own home overlooking his bridge.
Beverly was occupied by troops throughout the Civil War, serving as a supply and staging area for Confederate troops before Rich Mountain, and occupied by Federal troops afterwards. The Federal troops camped mostly in the fields near the Beverly cemetery on either side of the road. They dug about two and one-half miles of trenches on the three hills overlooking Beverly and used this ground as defensive positions, as well as occasionally for a camp grounds especially for cavalry. Troops and officers were also boarded in many Beverly homes, and a number of buildings with Civil War associations are described in the Beverly section of this report. Union occupied Beverly was raided four times by Confederate forces, twice successfully. The Rosser raid in the winter of 1865 especially included direct attacks on the Mt. Iser fortifications.
Noted historic structures in Beverly include: the
Rich Mountain is a large, long ridge extending north-south on the west side of the Tygart’s Valley. It is the westernmost of the sharply defined north/south ridges, with the land forms farther west gradually changing to a more broken, plateau type of land-form. West of Rich Mountain is rolling farmland drained by the upper reaches of Roaring Creek. Extensive coal beds underlie this area.
The area was sparsely settled when the turnpike was built, with various farmsteads scattered along the pike. In the 1890’s, development of the coal fields brought a boom to the area, with the major settlement a little to the north at Womelsdorf (Coalton). Logging was also extensive, with logging railroads reaching through the area.
Coal was mined on Rich Mountain itself, as early as before the Civil War for household coal. Both deep mining and later strip mining continued through the 1960s, with extensive strip mining taking place at different times right around the battlefield. There is also a large, unreclaimed, limestone quarry on the east face of the mountain.
The Backway continues into Upshur County crossing the Middle Fork River at Burnt Bridge. There are several small towns and communities on the way to Buckhannon, County Seat of Upshur County.
Civil War encampment and battlefield, National Register Historic District, located 5 to 6.5 miles west of Beverly, Randolph County on Rich Mountain Road, extends from the pass over Rich Mountain, on either side of the road down to and including Camp Garnett at the base of the mountain.
The site is composed of over 400 acres in two ownerships, all under management of Rich Mountain Battlefield Foundation.
Camp Garnett was the site of an 1861 fortification built under Gen. Garnett to in an attempt to hold the Staunton - Parkersburg Turnpike. A Federal flank attack around Camp Garnett led by General Rosecrans resulted in a battle at the pass at the top of the mountain. The Union victory here caused abandonment of Camp Garnett and Laurel Hill. Gen. McClellan claimed credit for driving Confederates from the region, leading to his appointment as the commander of the Army of the Potomac.
At the time of the battle Rich Mountain Battlefield was mostly wooded with clearings cut out for a subsistence homesteads. The Joseph Hart homestead at the battle site on the crest of the mountain consisted of a log house, small log stable, corn crib, spring house and garden. The Camp Garnett fortifications were located on both sides of the road at the western base of the mountain. The fortifications were generally earthen parapets with ditches in front of them, buttressed by piled brush.
Following the Civil War, the community was known for a time as Fisher, after one of the residents. In the 1890’s, the Roaring Creek coal fields were opened up, with production centering on the nearby town of Womelsdorf (Coalton), and contributing to the rise of the new railroad town of Elkins. In 1897, W. H. Mabie built a band mill in Fisher, and the community was renamed after him. Extensive logging also boomed in the area, and the population increased. By the 1930’s, Mabie boasted eighty families and six stores.
As part of the development of the Camp Garnett Civil War site, the Rich Mountain Battlefield Foundation now owns this park. It is used for reenactments, other events, and is also available for rental with a picnic shelter, flush toilets, and a kitchen.
The Pringle Tree is located a short distance north of Buckhannon off Route 20 on Pringle Tree Road. Two Pringle brothers came into the area after deserting the British Army at Fort Pitt. They worked for a short time, then followed the Tygart River until they reached the Buckhannon River. Following the River they established a home in a large hollow Sycamore tree from 1764 to 1767. The current Sycamore tree is a third generation of the original. It is surrounded by a small park with recreational facilities.
Legend says that the town got its name from an American Indian called Buck Hannon who was left behind when others fled from the new settlers. He stayed and was something of a character remembered by many.
The West Virginia Wildlife Center is 12 miles south of the city on Route 20. Here a 1.25 mile loop trail leads visitors to view buffalo, mountain lion, fox, and black bear in a natural setting.
A Post Office named Burnt House was established here in 1875. A store building and mill followed in 1882. In Lowther’s 1911 “History of Ritchie County’ she reported, “the village now has two hotels, two general stores, a mill, blacksmith and wagon shop, saddle and harness shop, post office, a lodge hall where three lodges meet and one physician.” Today, the town has several houses, two abandoned store buildings, and the Harmony I.O.O.F. lodge building. Burnt House could become a ghost town someday.
This was one of the boomtowns following the development of the oil and gas industry. Lowther’s 1911 “History of Ritchie County” reported that the town included “two hotels, two churches, one parsonage, a two roomed school, two general stores, a hardware and undertaking establishment, post office, a telephone exchange, a barber, two blacksmith shops, a milliner and dress maker shop, two physicians, two lodges and a new pump station.” Later businesses included a bank, restaurants, gas stations, a car dealership, oil and gas companies, rubber crafters, and a manufacturer of aluminum truck bodies. As with many boomtowns, Smithville has declined from its former size.
In the 1960s Route 47 was relocated around the south side of the town to completely bypass it. Places of interest on Main Street (Crozet Street in honor of the engineer who originally surveyed the Turnpike) are:
The Smithville Grade School built in 1913 with a newer addition in 1963.
Ayers Hotel across from the school, built in the 1890s operated as a hotel until 1920.
Smithville Baptist Church built in 1871,
Smithville Bank originally a one story bank, it was purchased in 1915 and used as a post office, then a private residence with a second story added.
At the end of the street is where the highway originally crossed the River. Here was an original covered bridge that was destroyed in an 1852 flood.
The Staunton Parkersburg Turnpike passed through a small corner of Wirt County, for a distance of less then 10 miles. At the junction of the Turnpike and 47/1 is the location of the former California House. It was built in the same year that gold was discovered in California, hence the name. Friends had asked Mr. Creel to go along to the Golden State, but he refused, saying he would make his fortune on the Hughes River. His fortunes came by way of bubbling crude oil that was found on his property.
Along the way the Turnpike passes through only one small town, Freeport. However, there are recreational opportunities here with a public boat launching facility into the South Fork of the Hughes River at the County line with Ritchie County, and the Hughes River Wildlife Management Area encompassing many square miles is both north and south of the Turnpike. There is another public boat launching facility into the Little Kanawha River at its confluence with the Hughes River near the County line with Wood County.
When the Turnpike was first authorized, the division of Wood County had not yet occurred, thus the eastern line of the county extended beyond Harrisville. In that Parkersburg and the good farmlands to the north and east were already being served by the Northwestern Turnpike, the proposal to build and fund another turnpike to Parkersburg was not well received by the residents of Wood County. The taxpayers of western Virginia complained that the proposed turnpike would pass through some of the most remote and sparsely populated regions in the state and it was not needed. However, when completed, the new turnpike clearly established Parkersburg as a major center of transportation, being served by the Ohio River and two major turnpikes. This would later prove to be a significant factor in the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad deciding to extend a line to Parkersburg and the Ohio River, further solidifying Parkersburg as a transportation center.
There are many historic places in Wood County, few small towns, and one dominant city at the terminus of the Turnpike and the Ohio River. Because two Turnpikes ended here, the mighty B & O Railroad passed through, and two major rivers meet, the Little Kanawha and the Ohio River, this was the best way west for settlers, and still is a major way to transport resources and manufactured goods. A trailhead for the North Bend Rail Trail begins here, and crosses the Turnpike south of Kanawha. In addition, the Turnpike follows the Little Kanawha River, and there are opportunities to boat and fish in several places.
About 1/8 mile north of the intersection of 47 and 7, a right turn onto 47-17 brings one onto the old Turnpike route. Here the road closely follows the River, and provides some scenic views of the valley.
Blennerhassett Island National Register listed in 1972 with habitations dating back 11,000 years.
Julia-Ann Square – National Register listed in 1977 with Second Empire, nineteenth Century eclectic, and Queen Anne styles dating 1850 to 1910.
Avery Street – National Register listed in 1986 with Colonial Revival and Queen Anne styles dating 1850 to 1925.
Washington Avenue/Parkersburg High School – National Register listed 1994 with Colonial Revival and Georgian Revival styles dating from 1903 to 1940.
Blennerhassett Hotel – 4 th and Market Streets – This Richardsonian Romanesque structure was erected in 1889 as a bank, later a hotel that was enlarged and renovated.
Ohio River Railroad Bridge – This outstanding bridge was erected in 1869. Prior to this, rail cars were transported across the river by barge arriving at rails on the other side. When opened it was the longest railroad bridge in the world with a total length of 7,140 feet.
Smoot Theater – The 1926 Vaudeville house was saved from demolition by concerned citizens. Today, the Smoot Theater presides as the grand lady of downtown Parkersburg, offering something for everyone, from Broadway, to ballet, to big bands and bluegrass.
Trans-Allegheny Books – This building constructed in 1905 was the Carnegie Library. The façade is Neo-Classical with Roman Doric columns. A distinctive interior includes a three story iron spiral staircase, and glass floors. In 1985 the building was opened as the state’s largest book store.
At the Parkersburg/Wood County Convention and Visitors Bureau at 350 7 th Street there are brochures for most of these attractions and many more, as well as a Visitors Guide, walking and driving tours.