1928 - Alderson High School - 1968


Alex McLaughlin July 09

There are many suburbs of the town of Alderson including Wolf Creek, Glen Ray, Griffiths Creek, Possum Holler, Muddy Creek Mountain, Palestine, Blue Sulphur and Asbury. But none of these carries the mystery, mystique and aura of Snake Run. There was always an ominous air and a sense of the forbidden about Snake Run. Was it young maidens romping through the woods ? Was it moon shiners or back to earth types that didn’t want any outsiders or insiders to invade their space? I could never figure. I know once when Mom was in the hospital at Fairlea I had arranged for her to be transferred to a single room for more privacy. The hospital orderlies were somewhat rough when they transferred Mom from one room to the other and she said indignantly “You are treating me like I am from Snake Run. I am from Blue Sulphur”. I didn’t get the idea that the orderly was sophisticated enough to understand Mom’s appreciation of the finer things. I never asked mom what it was about Snake Run that caused her ire and I am not sure to this day what was so unusual about the area.

Snake Run is actually a creek that drains the Grassy Meadows area and runs into Kitchens Creek in Blue Sulphur . Kitchens Creek eventually runs into Muddy Creek which drains into the Greenbrier River near Alderson. There is a road that parallels the creek for the most part on the 6 or 7 miles from Blue Sulphur springs to Grassy meadow. This is known as the Snake Run road.

At the Recent Fourth of July celebration after much discussion Rick Hughes and Bill Kincaid and I decided to drive up Snake Run Drive to get some sense of what had created the reputation of Snake Run. I t was a beautiful Fourth of July when we started out like Lewis and Clark in my Jeep Liberty. My memory had been of narrow pieces of land constrained by a mountain, a creek, a road and a mountain. Indeed part of this area was like that. But the land off of Snake Run Road was more open topographically than I remembered.

Some of you may know that Rick Hughes and I are fierce competitors in the short distance running arena. Actually at the Reunion dinner someone looked at Rick and me and asked Roger Bowyer in disbelief “Are those the runners that I read about in the Aldersonian? I didn’t think that they would look that old.”

I felt that in the spirit of the Fourth of July that I should hold out an olive branch and seek out the humanity and common aspirations of all men. Rick naturally was wary and gave me suspicious glances throughout the trip. Predictably he probed my weaknesses by asking questions like, “Al what really gets under your skin” and “Al, What kind of things don’t you like”. But I could see through his probing questions. Bill who is one of the people that I know that has had a distinguished life of service naturally tried to be the referee and arbiter by bringing both of us back to a sense of camaraderie and friendship when the competitive juices overflowed.

When we reached Grassy Meadows, wide swaths of level farm land were evident on both sides of the road. We had conquered the Snake Run road. Like many great expectations we were let down by the fact there was nothing really obviously earth shattering about Snake Run. In fact it seemed like just any other suburb of Alderson. We hooked up with the interstate at Dawson and drove back to Sam Black where we took old Route 60 to Alta. Much to our surprise the part of Route 60 that comes down from Clintonville was freshly resurfaced and striped. Surprised because the Highways Department that is challenged for funds would make an investment in a road that has such low traffic volumes.

We ate a very nice  dinner at the Meeting Place at Alta. My overtures towards friendship apparently worked, as Rick let his guard down and I was able to convince him to eat some wonderful peanut butter pie for desert. I hoped that the pie, might, just might slow him down in his training runs. We then drove to the Asbury Post Office where Rick picked up his car that he had left with the keys in it and running for two and one half hours. He thought nothing of this. He jumped in the car convinced us everything was okay and rushed off. I saw a smile on his face and I recognized that the next time that I would see him in the race in September that the smile would turn to the cold blooded crazed look of the competitive runner who would give no quarter in his late life efforts to beat me in a running race. Still it was kind of touching that the two old warriors could forget their differences for these few hours in their joint, albeit failed, efforts at discovering and unlocking the mysteries of Snake Run.