Today on my way westward, I choose to cross the Blue Ridge Mountains following the route of the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe Expedition of 1716. I crossed the the mountains at Swift Run Gap on Spotswood Trail (US33), near where Governor Spotswood led his group of explorers as they traveled west to see what was there. They were hoping to find land worth settling. Turns out that there is a lot of land west of the Blue Ridge Mountains worth developing.
After the journey, the Governor presented the explorers with a Horseshoe shaped pin inscribed with "Sic jurat transcendere montes", which translates into English as "Thus he swears to cross the mountains."
Once I crossed the mountains, I drop into the Shenandoah Valley where I turn south to Grottoes before I turned back to my westward heading to Beckley.
Day 2 - Friday
Aug 7, 2009
I join a few friends to wander around Beckley to see what we can find.
After checking out the Glen Jean Bluestone National Scenic River Visitor Center and collecting an ink stamp, we found our way to the old Thurmond Train Depot.
Highway 25 between Glen Jean and Thurmond
Just across the tracks and up the hill, we find the abandoned town of Thurmond, West Virginia. The US National Park Service now owns most of the old boom town. Only a few families are left; the 2000 census listed just 7 current residents. Their homes sit high above the original commercial section of the town, now designated as a Historic District.
Abandoned town of Thurmond, WV
After convincing some of the my fellow riders to follow me up the narrow switchbacks above the historic main street and into the residential area perched on the mountainside, we were rewarded with a bird's-eye view of the route that got us there.
View of the New River Bridge on US19 from the Canyon Rim Visitor Center.