1928 - Alderson High School - 1968


 Alderson's Ferry - The Forgotten Community?
Barry Worrell 08

For a lot of years I have heard the name Alderson's Ferry mention, and it was always in the context of just a ferry crossing the Greenbrier River. After some research there seems to be a conflict of where the ferry was. I was always told it was somewhere about the location of the old Gulf station. Even the Gulf station project ("Greenbrier River Interpretative Center") was originally called Alderson's Ferry, which would support that location, but according to the Journal of the Greenbrier Historical Society on Alderson, it was located just below where the railroad station is now. And even the Journal states the river was forded at both places. With those facts in dispute, the Journal gives the impression that Alderson Ferry was  a community, separate from the village of Alderson, talking as if they were two separate places. With this in mind the following is from the Journal of the Greenbrier Historical Society on Alderson.

"In 1789 by legislative grant from the Virginia assembly to Elder John Alderson, a ferry across the river was established. This ferry was just below the present location of the railroad station. On old maps the place is named Alderson's Ferry.

Prior to the coming of the railroad Alderson's Ferry was a small farming community. It was not close to any of the three county seats; it had little industry except small mills. In 1868 the C & O Railroad Co. was organized and by 1872 had made it way to the Alderson area.  It also made a town out of Alderson's Ferry. Previously plagued by poor roads and isolation, the little village now boomed. Lumber, tanbark, cross ties, and live stock could be shipped to market. People could travel. Alderson's Ferry was in communication by telegraph with the world. Freight could be shipped in. The village was not depended on a road wagon and a team of horses or oxen, for commerce or travel."

Sounds as if this is another community on the same spot or close to Alderson. I think the only conclusion is Alderson may have started out as Alderson's Ferry and at sometime was changed to  just Alderson. The Journal doesn't state this but constantly changes its reference to Alderson Ferry to Alderson, and back again.  Was Alderson Ferry a forgotten community, or was it the same community as Alderson and just the name was forgotten?

Update: 01-03-09. In a conversation with Jim Talbert of the GHS, he stated that Alderson was not officially named Alderson until the railroad came. This could be why on older maps, the name of the community was Alderson's Ferry.  Also his conclusion was the ferry most likely would have been above the bridge because the water was deep enough for a large boat.

After even more research on the internet, I found numerous references to Alderson's Ferry. Most of these are in histories of John Alderson and military references. It's very evident Alderson was at one time called Alderson's Ferry.

Update: 1-11-09.  According to Tom Dixon's book, (Rise and Fall of Alderson) one General Wickham, VP & Gen. Manager of the railroad visited George Alderson on Sunday, Jan 26, 1873 (arrived on the dedicatory train), and announced that the station would be named "Alderson", dropping the older "Alderson's Ferry", in honor of Mr. G. Alderson and his forbearer, Elder John Alderson.

Update: 10-22-10. I have no confirming information but my relatives were operators of the first ferry across the greenbrier river which was located across from the former Gulf Station. My Great Grandfather Capt. Lewis Franklin Watts (interred at the Old Stone Church in Lewisburg and former owner and operator of the Crow Place, an Inn on Dunlap Creek in Virginia outside White Sulphur, operated the ferry at one time and had a small hotel with a bar on the Monroe side east of the present location of the concrete bridge. Sadly I did not gather more information on this history before my Mother died.
-Bill Michelinie