West Virginia Stories and Tips

Meandering On The Old Fayetteville Road.

Rafters on The New River Photo, United States, North America

We didn’t have time to hike the New River Gorge Bridge trails from the river level and so we took the advice of helpful staff at the visitor center and drove the Fayettville Auto route trail. This route is also recommended for its views of the bridge, it was good advice and being out of season we had the road virtually to ourselves almost like traveling in a gentler time when the motorcar was not king of the road. This one hundred year old road of hairpin twists and turns winds slowly down to the bottom of the gorge. Along the way are amazing vistas of the river and forest and wayside markers at pull- offs along the route interpret the heritage of the area.

At the bottom you will have a clear view of the New River Gorge Bridge and its buttresses supporting 88,000 pounds of concrete and steel and a super vantage point for obtaining those postcard views. The bridge was built in 1977 before that the 1889 Fayette station bridge connected two towns. Fayette and south Fayette. Wander on the Fayette Bridge, there are two pedestrian walkways and you can watch the Kayakers and rafters paddle their way through the wild rapids and hear their happy shouts as they end their trips at Fayette station.

More than 50 coal mining towns lined this gorge between 1875-1950, when coal mining dominated the economy of this state. Hidden beneath layers of encroaching vegetation are the remains of these once vibrant towns. The two towns on opposite sides of the river grew together as one despite the fact one was a coal-mining town and one a railroad center. Several community facilities were shared including the post office, school, saloons and jail. At river level Fayette station road runs directly through the abandoned town sites.

Those towns were representive of the general life cycle of a company town. Mines opened, company houses flourished, then decade’s later coal seams became exhausted or changes in the marketplace caused mine closures. People moved away and the towns ultimately became deserted. There are some remnants of Fayette’s Company store and railroad tracks on the northeast side of the river.

Today the area is known for its outstanding natural beauty and hundreds of outdoor enthusiasts descend upon it. We first saw the bridge two years ago. We were traveling north on the I-19 and noticed the bridge and Gorge. My husband the Bridge Builder wanted to investigate and we visited the Canyon rim center. We were impressed with the scenery and history of this area and vowed to return. We hope this trip will be one of many. There is so much to see and do and the scenery is outstanding.

To Get To Fayette Station

After leaving the visitors center parking lot turn left past the gift shop and continue to follow the road keeping to the right. The road becomes one way and is very narrow follow it to he Fayette station; there you will cross the Tunney Hunsaker Bridge. {Fayette Bridge} After leaving Fayette station the road winds across wolf creek, if you follow the road it again becomes one way and you will come to a crossroad to US 19 or 16. Many trail heads branch off from this route and if you wish you could park your car at Fayette Station and hike the kaymore trail {wolf creek trailhead}.

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