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East side not appropriate for bike path

By Staff | Nov 18, 2016

On Oct. 20, a presentation was made by WVDOH and Shepherdstown officials showing proposals for a pedestrian/bicycle path along SR 480.

Several years ago, when I heard about the proposed path, I was enthusiastic about it because it was going along the west side of 480, linking up with the path along Potomac Farms Drive. A sensible and logical plan.

However, the October presentation showed that town officials are thinking to build on the east side of SR480. This is not appropriate, logical nor safe.

In 1999 the National Register of Historic Places recognized the Morgan’s Grove Historic District; its Eastern boundary runs along SR480, starting from the stone wall to the south/west corner of Morgan’s Grove Park.

That stone wall is referenced on page 1, Section Number 7 of the MGHD nomination:

**”In the 1740’s another lane from the turnpike to Popular Grove, now called Rosebrake was made….and has 1/2 to 3 1/2 foot -high dry-laid stone walls marking the old boundaries and entrances.”

This wall was probably built by slaves from Popular Grove. The wall is an important contributing structure and it is one of the very few maintained roadside, dry-laid walls in our area.

In view of the recently opened National Museum of African American History and Culture (in Washington, D.C.), we should be more sensitive about the African American heritage that is part of our past; and we should be honoring this poignant, and very visual, historic structure – not hiding it behind a barrier of any kind. It should remain as it is, easily visible.

There is an interesting term, “view shed”- that means, for instance, that that stone wall is an important visual part of the historic property, Rose Brake; it is the entrance to a beautiful historic home.

Close to the stone wall is the original entrance to Falling Spring/Morgan Springs. In 1932 the DAR placed a monument there to commemorate the Beeline March, July 17, 1775 from Morgan Springs. And, although that monument has recently been relocated to Elmwood Cemetery, the 1740’s road has barely been touched or disturbed; building a bicycle path would destroy the entrance.

Next along SR480 is Derr’s Field, the future housing development called Tollhouse Woods.

Derr’s Field was the location of Morgan’s Grove Fair (before it was moved to the old Boteler/Fountain Rock property) and was the area where at least one Civil War battle was fought.

One battle, called the Battle of Kearneysville, was fought on Aug. 25, 1864- about 20,000 troops, cavalry and cannon were in this region, fighting from 1-3 p.m. The battle is documented in the Officials Records and is the only regional battle so documented.

Tollhouse Woods plans to have two entrances/exits along SR480.

If one counts the private driveways that exist now, and the two from Tollhouse Woods, that totals seven “breaks” into the path, which will cause safety issues for cars, pedestrians/cyclists: seven road entrances/exits on the East side of SR480, versus only four on the West side of SR480.

Also, there already exists a brick sidewalk along Elmwood, and an appropriately wide area along the road from the brick walk to Lowe Drive, that would contribute to a path.

And, finally, of great concern is the corner of SR480 and Morgan’s Grove Road; there was a tollhouse for the Shepherdstown to Smithfield Turnpike, which operated from the 1840’s to the 1900’s. (Hence the name Tollhouse Woods).

During research for the MGHD, several preliminary archaeological digs were conducted by students from Shepherd under the guidance of Chuck Hulse. Construction for a path near that corner will destroy any artifacts which would hinder future historical exploration and research.

For the historic reasons listed, I respectfully object to the path being built along the East side of SR480.

Diana Suttenfield