Rain – drove on, came to New River, passed along its stupendous cliffs, by a magnificent road, crossed Goly* Bridge, toll $1. This is an open bridge lately erected by B and S. It is built on piers at the same place the Arched Bridge formerly stood. It is an handsome bridge. Two miles below the bridge we passed the great falls of Kenewha*, a great natural curiousity, an admirable site for water works. A great quantity of timber is sawed here and several hundred large flat boats are built here for the purpose of taking salt down the Ohio. Staid all night at Huddleston’s; fared very well. Had a good deal of conversation with the citizens of Ohio, Mississippi and Indiana, who were traveling and had called to stay all night.
*Goly Bridge is Gauley Bridge, great falls of Kenewha is Kanawha Falls
This is the journal of William Campbell (1805-1849),, on a journey from Lexington, in Rockbridge County, Virginia to St. Charles County Missouri, written in 1829, and includes the story of the enslaved Archer Alexander. It can be found in the Leyburn Library, Special Collections and Archives, located at the Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia. A very special thanks goes to Lisa S. McCown, Senior Assistant and all of the staff there. . This journal is presented here with the spellings as presented by the writer in 1829. All photos by Dorris Keeven-Franke with a special thanks to Donna LaBrayer Sandegren.
What an awesome sight this must have been, and as William Campbell writes these words, at least fifty people are seeing these places for the first time. Campbell is single and can afford the time to visit courthouses and have “a good deal of conversation” while the others cannot. The McClure, Alexander and Icenhower families have several children and an aged father with them. For them, and their enslaved, including Archer Alexander, this was a difficult journey, with wagons to haul the household goods and the tents and cooking utensils that are unpacked and set up each night.
This is one of the most beautiful sights in West Virginia. The wood mills that once made flatboats for travel down the Ohio River are today’s paper mills. The lumber industry fuels the economy. Traveling the side roads such as Route 60, the Midland Trail and a National Scenic Byway one sees so much more history and beauty.