1928 - Alderson High School - 1968



On Cheat Mountain in Winter

John McCurdy - 2006

Cheat Mountain in Randolph and Pocahontas Counties in West Virginia, is an area of thousands and thousands of acres of rocks and streams, cliffs and precipices, deadfalls, huge trees and stumps and almost impenetrable laurel thickets. A place of bear and deer and Ben Franklin’s favorite bird, the Wild Turkey. Where the Cougar, long denied as being in this state, has been seen more than once, where the Snow-shoe Hare changes his color to suit the season, owls and hawks and even the Bald Eagle, the foxes and the wildcats wait to for an opportunity to rip the flesh of the grouse and squirrel and other small prey of the land.

It, until recently, was a place where few people lived year-round, for when the cold winds of October started to blow, the sensible folk closed up and moved to the nearby towns in the valleys below. There were a few who stayed, remaining near to the fires of home, tending to a few sheep and cattle, secure in the knowledge there was firewood and canned goods enough close by. In January, when as they sometimes said, “there was nothing between them and the North Pole but a few strands of barbed wire fence”, even they sometimes wondered about the wisdom of their decision. Lake effect snow covered the land, brought by the west winds and stopped by the towering mountains.

The icy condition of the roads made travel virtually impossible, and sometimes even standing up and walking was problematic. The snow drifted here and drifted there with each day and each night’s fierce and constant winds. The drifts just got bigger.

Traffic on the roads ceased, life consisted of doing only those things necessary for survival; feeding ones livestock that was in the barns, carrying in enough wood or coal to insure that even if a unexpected and much fiercer storm arrived, there would be enough fuel to insure safety. Tempers sometimes flared, depression and tears came all too easily in the dark winter days.

In a great building in the great city of Washington, D.C. in the headquarters of the United States Postal Service, in the corridor just outside the offices of the Postmaster General of the United States; prominently displayed so visitors could read what it said; was a letter from Pocahontas County, West Virginia; it was the response of the good Postmaster of the little town of Durbin, West Virginia, nestled just at the base of Cheat Mountain.

It was in answer to a letter from the great building in Washington demanding to know why the mail was not being delivered over Cheat Mountain sometimes for days or even weeks at a time.

Dear Sirs:

In answer to your Letter of Inquiry regarding the non-delivery of the mail over Cheat Mountain, I can only tell you that when the snow falls on Cheat in the winter time, when the icy winds blow and even breathing becomes a hurtful chore, even Lucifer, the Prince of Darkness, with all his Imps shoveling Coal on the Fires of Hell and which, if it were backed up to the frozen hills and hollows of the Great Mountain called Cheat, could not melt the ice and snow there-on until the Great Lord God, in His Infinite Wisdom, decides the damn mail should go through!

Respectfully Yours

Durbin, West Virginia


Please enter your name to comment.  Comments should be read from the bottom up to get continuity.