Where it ran - II
Pomeroy, where riverboats still pull up to the town dock, may be the only city listed twice in "Ripley's Believe It or Not". The three-story Meigs County Courthouse in downtown Pomeroy, which has a ground-level entrance on every floor, is responsible for one listing. Pomeroy appears a second time because of its lack of cross streets. Front Street (or Main Street as it is now) runs parallel with the Ohio River, making cross streets impossible. The business district is on the National Register of Historic Places. [Pop. 4023. A whopping 156 listings. The biggies ($200,000 to $750,000) included the Martin Ebersbach Co., Peacock Coal Co., Pomeroy Salt Assn., and the New Pittsburgh Coal Co.]
Pomeroy dates to 1806 when the first resident arrived at what is now Kerr's Run. In 1830, its namesake, Samual Willys Pomeroy, arrived in the village and claimed ďthe area is a good and healthy place to live.Ē S.W. Pomeroy and his son-in-law established the coal and salt mines that would turn the village into a prosperous industrial town by 1870.
only Civil War battlefield is in Meigs County. Meigs was on the border between
the North and South. Ohio was free, while West Virginia was a slave state. On
July 19, 1863, the Battle of Buffington Island took place in Portland. Future
U.S. Presidents Rutherford Hayes and William McKinley (and also possibly James
Garfield) participated in the battle. Meigs County militia and Union forces
defeated Morgan's Raiders. Meigs County was also part of the Underground
Railroad that transported slaves to freedom.
Time appears to have stood still in many respects; in others, there's no trace of the area's former rich industrial heritage.
Pomeroy is on the outside of the bend, or the "Big Bend" as it's better known. Kerr's Run is at the top right, near where the images were put together. The bridge to Mason City, WV., is at the lower left of the picture. Work had just started on the replacement span when this was taken.
This postcard was taken from across the river and shows Pomeroy in 1937.
This picture was taken in 2004.
The angle is different, but if you center in on the courthouse dome, you'll see many of the buildings still exist.
Here's the courthouse in a 1920's postcard.
and here's how it looks now. Note that the building on the left still has the watch painted on the wall.
* * * *
This looking north along Front Street, taken about 1905. Too bad the open car wasn't in front of the telegraph pole.
Another view in about the same location, maybe in the 1920s. . .
. . . and as it appears in 2004.
Looking south from the same intersection. . .
. . . and in 2004. The large building on the corner is gone, but much remains the same.
Detailed views of some of the buildings herewith. I took straight-on shots of each building in the three-block business district, thinking they'll come in handy if/when I get around to making a replica of part of the town.
Tried in vein to find where these shots were taken -- but since it's been 90+ years . . . Suspect picture on the left is close to Kerr's Run, looking toward Pomeroy. Guessing the other shot is of the railroad at the other end of town, looking up river.
No photographic essay of Pomeroy would be complete without a few flood pictures.
Above, one of the floods in 1911. Looking north along Front -- or should that have been River Street? C&O passenger depot is at right.
Below is a series of 1908 scenes.
More or less same location, but in 1908. Severe flooding is an integral part of the town's history. There is a flood gauge in the municipal parking lot (about where third picture shows) with the top reading being 53 feet. It would have been submerged by 4 or 5 feet by the flood shown here. Having water lapping at the second floor balconies wasn't all that uncommon in years past.
* * *
Herewith a quick report on a July, 2004, fact-finding trip to the area once served by the trolley line.
Itís amazing what time does to a
landscape. Out of all of the towns once served, only Pomeroy shows any signs of
life. Racine, Syracuse and Minersville are still there, although more than half
of Racine has been torn down in the last 30 years. Itís sort of spooky to see
blocks and blocks of streets, brick sidewalks and immense trees Ė but no
Middleport still has a business
district and lots of housing. Gravel Hill and Hobson simply donít exist,
although NS does still have a yard and office if you know where to look for
As for the industry that once
flourished, there are absolutely no traces of anything Ė no evidence of oil or
gas, no brickyards, and no coal mines, not even traces of mine run-off. There is
one former salt facility overgrown with weeds and trees, and apparently this was
the location of the elusive town of White Rock.
As to Pomeroy, there has been something
in excess of $1 million invested in the town in the last decade, and the entire
main street business district has been placed on the Register of Historic
Places. Unfortunately, there are no traces of the car line, although I did find
where the car barn had been. It apparently was torn down after 1979. No trace of the power plant either. The only railway building I could find
was the freight station in Middleport. Itís empty, and apparently belongs to the
neighboring Dairy Queen.
The local historical society
has published some books on the area, but they mostly contain reminisces of some
of the residents. The picture volume of out of print, but did have seven trolley
pictures that will get posted eventually. They probably have some more
information, but that will wait until the next visit. The local library was also of some help. They have
microfilm of the areaís newspapers back from about 1885. There were a number of
newspapers in the area, so inspection of the microfilm will also have to await a
second visit. A copy of the town ordinances existing in 1907 showed indications
of other efforts to add trolley lines to the area, but apparently none were ever
built. The innkeeper at the B&B thinks she has some old pictures but didnít
have the chance to look for them. She did have a story about a relative who
managed to weld one of the cars to the rails! Another possible source is
the society that preserves the Chester Courthouse.
Another possible source is the society that preserves the Chester Courthouse.
So much research, so little time!
Postcard, probably from the early 1940s shows the "Pomeroy Bend Bridge." Pomeroy is on the left bank. The car line would have been between the road and the hillside. The railroad is under the first span of the bridge.
The new bridge was opened 12/30/08 -- about 18 months behind schedule and $20 million over budget. The old bridge was imploded the next year but didn't give up without a fight. It failed to drop cleanly into the water, and reopening the river to navigation gave the contractor and the Coast Guard a bit of a headache for several days.
Photo on left is from the Pomeroy newspaper. The one above was taken from the WSAZ TV website.