On of the first problems which faced
the county court of Greenbrier County after the county was organized was
roads. The most pressing need for transportation was across the
mountains to the East. In 1781 the Sheriff was directed to let a
contract to build a road from the courthouse to Warm Springs, from twelve
to fifteen feet wide, to be finished by October 1782. It was to be
paid for with fifty tons of hemp. Other roads were started and
tithables (taxpayers) were working on the roads in 1783.
The first mention in Greenbrier
County Records of a road in the area now Alderson is in Order Book A,
January 16, 1787. It reads, "Joseph Soape is appointed overseer to
open a road from John Alderson to the last fork of Wolf Creek above the
said Soaps, and it is ordered that all tithables in Graham's company do
attend and assist the said surveyor in clearing and repairing said road
when required." So, the first road was up Wolf Creek.
When Monroe County was formed in
1799, one of the first concerns was road, and the development of the same
first road was continued. Five men, Joseph and George Swope, L.
Lowe, John Alford, and Thomas Alderson were "to view" from Alderson's
Ferry to Union by the most direct course. This was August, 1799.
The first authentic map of Virginia
was made by Herman Boye in 1828. It shows one road through
Alderson's Ferry from Union to Blue Sulphur and North. It crossed
Greenbrier at the Ferry and crossed Muddy Creek about the location of
Evidently, a road was being opened in
1813 down the Greenbrier to New River. Three road commissioners in
charge were appointed by Monroe County Court. They were Joseph
Alderson, David Graham and William Hinchman. This road is not on the
Boye map of 1828, and must never have been completed.
In 1836 the Red Sulphur and Blue
Sulphur Turnpike was incorporated. This was a toll road which,
according to records, was examined on July 30, 1840 by the County
In 1838 another corporation, Indian
Draft Turnpike, was formed to join the Red Sulphur and Blue Sulphur
Turnpike. This road was from Salt Sulphur. It was granted
permission to cross the Greenbrier at Alderson's Ferry by ferry, and no
bridge was required. Local men who were among incorporators were
Joseph Hill, Joseph Alderson, John Alderson, Andrew Miller, William Ellis
and James Hill.
Records are too vague to attempt to
trace any other roads out of town. It appears the sole road
that was in regular use was the Union-Blue Sulphur road. No
permanent record of roads either up or down the river was located.
A map by M. W. White in 1871 appeared
in Mitchell's New General Atlas of that year. In addition to the
road previously mentioned there is another road up the river across Muddy
Creek Mountain about where the mountain road is now. Still another
road left Palestine and crossed the mountain to the north. No road
is shown down the river from Alderson's Ferry. Both Muddy Creek
Mountain roads joined other roads going to Lewisburg and to the north, but
did not go into Ronceverte. It is not know when the Muddy Creek road
A map of Greenbrier County by H. H.
Harrison and J. O. Handley in 1887 shows all road leading out of Alderson
in greenbrier to be about where they are now.
The West Virginia State Road
Commission does not keep a historical file of local highways. Mr.
Harry Venable of the Lewisburg District office furnished information of
the improvements to the various state road serving Alderson. The
Wolf Creek road to Pickaway was graded and based in 1925 and finished in
1927 to Griffith's Creek, and between 1928 and 1930, completed to Hinton.
Route 12, North to Alta connecting with U. S. Route 60, roughly followed
the old Muddy Creek Road and up Mill Creek. It was finished to Brant
in 1938 and on to Ronceverte in 1942.
The big road question which now has
section fighting section, town against town, and faction against faction,
is the location of Interstate 64. This road was original planned to
traverse the State about parallel to U. S. 60, going through Fayette and
Western Greenbrier and white Sulphur Springs. In order to get an
additional Interstate highway north-south from Charleston-Beckley area to
Pennsylvania, Interstate 64 was planned to be re-routed starting at
Beckley, going east to the Virginia line near White Sulphur Springs.
The re-routed Interstate 64 would go close to Hinton, Alderson and
Ronceverte and the new route was vigorously applauded by those
communities. There have been five different routes surveyed. On of
them touches South Alderson near Copeland's Garage and around Flat
Top Mountain and east up the Greenbrier. This survey, presently,
presently seems to be the most favored.
From the time Alderson was but a
wilderness the Greenbrier was forded above and below the present bridge.
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.
Greenbrier County Court records show
that the County Court considered building a bridge across the river in the
July term 1878. It approached the Monroe County Court to bear one-half of
the expense estimated at $14,000. The two county courts seemingly did not
get along very well, and it was not until the July term 1881 that
agreement was reached. Two sub-commissioners of the Courts were
appointed, Samuel Price and James Withrow, who agreed on specifications,
engineering and letting of the contract. The Pittsburgh Bridge Company,
Pittsburgh, Pa., got the contract to build the bridge for $11,900.00. They
must have quickly built the bridge by 1882, as in that year an abutment
was not satisfactory according to the court records.
The iron bridge was frequently in
disrepair. The minutes of the Town Council show the Council was often
fussing at the two County Courts to do something about it. On August 8,
1913, the Council authorized consultation with the County Courts about
constructing a new bridge of concrete. In February 1914, the Greenbrier
County Court ordered the Town of Alderson to repair the old iron bridge.
Town Council was indignant and flatly refused saying the town had not
built the old bridge, had no authority to repair the bridge, that
townspeople had paid taxes to help build all other county bridges, and
finally the river was not the property of the town, but was State
In April 1914, the County Courts of
Greenbrier and Monroe agreed to build a new bridge without sidewalks. On
May 5, 1914, Mayor McNeer issued a proclamation for a bond issue election
of from $2,000.00 to $3,000.00 to be held May 26. the vote was 191 for, 2
against, for one sidewalk, and 186 for, 2, against, for two sidewalks.
The Concrete Steel Bridge Co., Clarksburg, W. Va., had a contract to build
the bridge for $20,600.00. On October 30, 1914, a contract was made with
the company to build the two sidewalks for $2900.00. So, the roadway
belonged to the State and the sidewalks belonged to the town.
The bridge has served for 50 years.
It is narrow, dilapidated and a danger to pedestrians. The sides are just
high enough so that automobile passengers cannot see the magnificent view,
east of west, of the beautiful Greenbrier.
A new bridge is badly need but cannot
be planned until a final decision is made of the location of Interstate
Highway 64. (More on
The contents contained in this series is copyrighted
and the sole property of
Historical Society - Lewisburg, WV
Used by permission - November 18, 2008