“The old mud road is a road that leads down to perdition. The improved road leads upward to a better land; to better homes; to a better and broader civilization,” said West Virginia Governor Ephraim Morgan as he, along with the mayors of Kingwood and Terra Alta, untied the ceremonial ribbons and let the barrier of bunting fall away. The Terra Alta-Kingwood Road was officially open.
The weather had been cold and rainy for several days prior to September 11, 1924 and it looked as if celebrations could not be held; but on the appointed day the sun appeared and dried the roads and grounds to everyone’s satisfaction.
It’s hard today to imagine a mere road opening being followed by a ball game, basket picnic, airplane rides, band music and various athletic events, but the automobile was still a novel way to get around in Preston County—only 30% of the state’s residents had a car yet. And this stretch of highway was seen as a major connector to the outside world.
The road from Kingwood to Terra Alta is a part of the old Winchester and Morgantown turnpike, which was perhaps the first road designated in the county. The turnpike was, from the area’s earliest settlement, the main route through the county to Morgantown. Some of the first pioneer wagons from the east trundled over it.
The road leads from the outskirts of Kingwood to Terra Alta and joins with a concrete road built from that point to the Maryland state line. From the state line a short two mile stretch in Maryland connected to the National pike.
“The National or Cumberland Road was perhaps the most important [regional Indian trail that became a road], extending originally from Washington to Cumberland and later to Wheeling. These old roads are still in use,” noted Governor Morgan in his address. “Parts of them have been improved and hardsurfaced in recent years. The day is not far distant when the most important of these routes will constitute the main arteries of motor travel across the state over improved roads.”
The governor concluded: “I want future generations to point to these roads and say ‘There are roads that were constructed in the pioneer stage of road building in West Virginia under the first State Road Commission after the first comprehensive system was established; and they have endured to this day.’” And he headed off to catch the afternoon’s ballgame between Rowlesburg and Kingwood.
related post: “Paving Paradise”