Day 1: Friday - June 11th
We left Morgantown at 7:30 and started the slow, but scenic back road route to Fort Wayne.
The route I had chosen, for better or for worse was SR 7 to US 250 to o Moundsville and the Ohio River. We averaged about 30 mph on this 90 mile leg of the drive. But, we did not care. The drive was interesting and the scenery lush from all the recent rains.
Click on the photos below for a larger image.
As might be expected, we had a lot of company from coal trucks on the SR 7 section from Morgantown west through Wana, Pentress, Blacksville and beyond.
We meandered through Wetzel county and passed through the town of Hundred. This was the nearest town to an enclave of back to the land hippies who settled there in the 70s. Some of these folk later relocated to Morgantown and few still reside there today.
Wetzel County has a long history in the Oil and Gas producing industry. During the Oil boom of the 1800's it is reported that the Proctor Creek watershed (about 10 miles to the west) had 12 saloons and numerous livery/hotels to accommodate the hundreds of logging and oil field workers.
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We went through the formerly busy and prosperous town of Littleton. I have been though here before and always admired the old bank building. I knew someday I would drive through here and find the building in ruins. And, indeed, it is now little more than rubble, mostly collapsed with only a small section of the roof intact.
The town of Littleton, originally called Milo, is located in Wetzel County's Clay District. It was named for a pioneer family by the name of Little who settled there. The town is built on the banks of Big Fish Creek.
Source: History of Littleton
I hate to see these fine old steel bridges go by the wayside. This is costing big bucks to replace. Rt 250 carries very little traffic these days, but it still sees significant heavy truck traffic.
This project is located on US 250 at Mile Post 4.62 in Marshall County. The work consists of grading, drainage, paving, signing, and removal of the existing bridge and construction of a new bridge at the location.
Traffic will be maintained of the existing bridge until the new bridge is constructed. Expect little or no delays. The contractor is currently placing the reinforcing steel for the new bridge deck.
The project is 76% complete. The contract was awarded to Ohio-West Virginia Excavating of Powhatan Point, Ohio at a cost of $1,895,638.15. The planned completion date is August 31, 2010.
Source: WV DOT
A last look back.
We made out way through Moundsville. The city was named for the Grave Creek Mound.
Grave Creek Mound is the largest conical type of any of the mound builder structures. Construction of the mound took place in successive stages from about 250-150 B.C., as indicated by the multiple burials at different levels within the structures. In 1838, road engineers measured its height at 69 feet (21 m) and its at the base as 295 feet (90 m). Originally a moat of about 40 feet (12 m) in width and five feet in depth with one causeway encircled it.
We crossed the Ohio River and headed south on SR 7 to Dillies Bottom. It was near here we had to find out next route section heading north. We found what we though was the right road. It was no named on our map but the road sign said it was "Pipe Creek Road.
We turned right onto the tiny, meandering road still unsure if this was the tight way to go. Fortunately we saw to local walking along the road and Betsy asked them if we were on the road to Businessburg. They said "Yes" and we were on out way north to find SR 147, which we did.
Near Centerville we was a sign pointing to "Dysart Woods". I had heard of this place many times, but never been there. When going through my dads effects I found a picture of him hugging a huge Tulip Tree in Dysart Woods.
Dysart Woods Laboratory located on the 455-acre Dysart Farm, is divided into two almost equal tracts situated in ravines separated by a broad ridge. Many species of trees grow in these ravines, but the oaks which have developed during 300 years' time are the most spectacular. Some are over four feet in diameter and stand 140 feet high.
Dysart Woods, a 50-acre tract of old-growth oak forest located in Belmont County, is the largest known remnant of the original forest of southeastern Ohio.
There is currently a battle raging to stop coal mining under Dysart Woods.
Dysart Woods is among the last .004 percent of remaining ancient forest in Ohio. It is the most significant stand of mixed mesophytic virgin forest left in Ohio, and is among the most endangered ecosystem in the world. Dysart Woods is owned by Ohio University and is a National Natural Landmark. But Ohio Valley Coal Company has a pending permit to mine right under Dysart Woods. Please join Dysart Defenders in our effort to save this ancient forest.
Dysart Defenders has two active appeals of the lands unsuitability for mining petition, and an appeal of OVCC's coal waste dump just upstream from the endangered Eastern Hellbender, America's largest aquatic salamander. The waste dump is for coal OVCC wants to mine from under Dysart Woods.
Source: Dysart Defenders
We continued on Rt 147 through beautiful rolling farm land and lush woods. We passed through another boom and bust town - Belmont. Shown here is the old Belmont bank now a junky junk store.
We eventually came to 1-70 at exit 208 and followed it west for about 10 miles to exit 202. It was a relief to leave all the high speed traffic behind.
We got onto SR 800, another small local road. We passed by Hendrysurg, now know only for being the birthplace of Hopalong Cassidy.
Hopalong Cassidy is a cowboy hero, created in 1904 by Clarence E. Mulford who wrote a series of popular stories and twenty-eight novels. In print, the character appears as a rude, dangerous and rough-talking "galoot".
Beginning in 1935, the character, played by William Boyd, was transformed into the clean-cut hero of a series of 66 immensely popular films, only a few of which were based on Mulford's works. Mulford actually rewrote his earlier stories to fit the movie conception and these led in turn to a comic book series modeled after the films.
We continued north on SR 800 and passed the "Wash House" near the intersection of US 22 at Smyrna. We continued on north up 800 and intersected US 250 again. By now 250 was a busy mess and this section was no fun to drive on. In the future we will avoid it.
We eventfully crossed I-77 near Ashland, got off 250 and picked up tiny SR 96 to Olivesburg and then onto SR 603 and up to US 224 heading west.
Our original plan was to stop at Findlay State Park for a hike but we were moving slow and had to bypass the park.
By now the temps were in the low to mid 80s and it was sprinkling occasionally as we headed due west onto SR 18 near Van Buren then onto to SR 613 which would take us into Fort Wayne where we arrive about 5:30. A ten hour trip from Morgantown.
The first stop was Golden Years Retirement Community where Betsy's dad, Art lives. We freshened up and then it was off to dinner at Charlotte and Joe's place in Harlan, about 20 minutes away.
Charlotte, Betsy's sister was busy working on a Bak Choi salad when we arrived.
Why is this woman surprised?
Charlotte always sets a nice table!
Here Joe, Betsy's brother-in-law tells Art reason number 386 why Democrats are such a**holes.
Here Art laughs at Joe for being such an a**hole.
All in good fun!!
Joe prepares the NY strip steaks and grilled vegetables. He is a master on the grill and can cook anything on it.
Betsy and I rarely eat beef and steaks are almost and annual event. When we do have them, I always hope they are at Char and Joes.
Those leggy Beal girls!
After a fab dinner we all said our good-byes and headed back to Art's to hit the hay. A long day for us!