Early Roads of Hampshire County

This short article is from History of Hampshire County, West Virginia, From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present; by Hu Maxwell and H. L. Swisher; A. Brown Boughner, Morgantown, WV, 1897 (reprinted by McClain Printing Company, Parsons, WV, 1972), pages 285-286.

The building of the Northwestern pike from Winchester to Parkersburg, through Romney, was a great event. This splendid highway was surveyed by one of the military engineers who served under Napoleon Bonapart in the Russian campaign. On the downfall of the emperor, it became necessary for the engineer to leave France, and he came to the state of Virginia, and was employed in road surveys. The construction of the pike was commenced at Winchester and was completed as far as Romney in 1837. The road was required to be twenty-one feet wide, and no grade more than five degrees, which is about two hundred and eighty-five feet to the mile. It was fortunate for Hampshire that nature cut gaps through Mill creek mountain in four places, by which roads may pass without climbing over that high and steep range. These gaps are, at the mouth of Mill creek, at upper Hanging Rocks, at lower Hanging Rocks, and at the Potomac just above the mouth of the South branch. The Northwestern pike passes through Mill creek gap, by a grade of about one degree, and along a route of great beauty. Every stream on this road was bridged. During the war nearly all the bridges were destroyed. The most of them have been rebuilt.

The Jersey mountain road was surveyed and improved in 1846. An older road had followed nearly the same route for many years, but at the above date it was widened and straightened. The Capon and North branch turnpike was made about 1842. It passes from Cumberland to Capon bridge, by Way of Frankfort, Springfield, Higginsville, Slanesville and North river mills. It was built by subscription, two-fifths of the stock subscribed by the state of Virginia, and the other by private parties. The pike from Greenspring to Moorefield was built by a stock company about 1850, the state taking two-fifths of the stock. This was called the Moorefield and North branch turnpike. In 1852 a turnpike was built from a point near Charles Taylor’s, on the Capon and North branch turnpike, to a point near French’s store, on the Potomac, near the mouth of the South branch.

The first stage line in Hampshire county, so far as any record exists, was established in 1830, between Winchester and Cumberland. In 1845 the stage lines from Greenspring to Romney and from Romney to Parkersburg and Marietta, Ohio, were owned by Nathaniel Kuykendall and Jesse Hildebrand. This was the main thoroughfare between the east and west, through what is now the nothern part of West Virginia. The National road, from Cumberland to Wheeling was a rival in importance. The stages from Romney to the Ohio river made remarkably good time, reaching Clarksburg in one day and Parkersburg in two. Stages left Greenspring for the Ohio river on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, "upon the arrival of the cars from Baltimore," as stated in an advertisement of that date. It would appear that only three passenger trains a Week arrived from the east at that time. The distance from Greenspring to Parkersburg was two hundred and ten miles, and the fare by stage was ten dollars. The railroad fare from Baltimore to Greenspring was four dollars, or from Baltimore to Parkersburg, fourteen dollars. The time required for the journey from Baltimore to the Ohio river was fifty-seven hours; and from Baltimore to Greenspring nine hours. Stages from Winchester and from Moorefield connected at Romney with the stages for the Ohio river.

  • 1830 1st stage line from Winchester to Capon Bridge established
  • by 1834 the Northwestern Pike reached Romney; by 1838 it reached Parkersburg on the western edge of the state.
  • c. 1842 Capon and North branch turnpike built
  • 1846 Jersey mountain road was surveyed and improved
  • 1850 The Moorefield and North branch turnpike was subscribed
  • 1852 turnpike was built from a point near Charles Taylor’s, on the Capon and North branch turnpike, to a point near French’s store, on the Potomac
  • 1884 B & O Railroad opens 16.29 miles of track from Green Spring to Romney