1928 - Alderson High School - 1968

The Journal Of The
Greenbrier Historical Society
Alderson, West Virginia
Written by Kenneth D. Swope


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 Palestine.

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 Court.

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 was built.

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 property.

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 bridges)

Next: Railroads

The contents contained in this series is copyrighted and the sole property of The Greenbrier Historical Society - Lewisburg, WV
Used by permission - November 18, 2008