FROM PRINCE TO THURMOND ON MCKENDREE ROAD

Bolivia has the Yungas (aka Stremnaya) Road, China features the Guoliang Tunnel, and West Virginia contains Fayette County Route 25 - McKendree Road - in the New River Gorge. The road was probably constructed to access McKendree Hospital, which was constructed around 1900-01 to meet the healthcare needs of coal miners in the New River, Winding Gulf, and Greenbrier Coalfields. However the author has never found the ruins of this hospital. McKendree Road is open to two-way traffic, so drivers must pay close attention to watch for oncoming traffic. Empty beer bottles and cans along the road hint at West Virginians' penchant for chugging beer while cruising the twisting roads of their native state.


At Prince, WV one turns onto McKendree Road, and the road ascends up the mountain over "Stretcher's Neck." This hairpin turn is on this first section.


The road crests the mountain and continues on into the gorge.


McKendree Road goes into a dim side of the mountain.


Still on the dark side of the mountain, at least in this time of day. There are parts of West Virginia where the sun only shines for a few hours a day - mountain coves, narrow "hollers", and the like.


The sun finally shines on McKendree Road again. It is perhaps global warming that has kept these leaves on the trees into November.


At times McKendree Road is carved into the cliffs of the New River Gorge.


Looking back toward Prince.


This is probably an original bridge from when the road was originally constructed, featuring some nice masonry craftsmanship.


Again looking back toward Prince.


A rare piece of guardrail.


A classic view of McKendree Road showing the sharp drop off typical of many sections of the road. One misstep from a driver could result in death.


In another part of the mountain where the sun doesn't shine.


Looking forward to Thurmond - both literally and figuratively.


This is the first building one sees when driving from Prince to Thurmond on McKendree Road - unless you count the guy living in an old school bus. When you see this building you know you are in Thayer, West Virginia. This photo brings to mind the John Denver lyric, "Life is old there..."


Small country church in Thayer.


Past Thayer the road is better cared for, perhaps so the 15 or 20 residents of Thayer can get out every now and then. In the distance is the 2nd of two cars that I passed on McKendree Road on this day.


When travelers reach this bridge - the Stone Cliff Bridge (constructed 1928) - the road becomes hard surfaced. The south side of Thurmond is only a few minutes away from here, and is the terminus of one of West Virginia's most scenic and dangerous roads.


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