Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

August 19, 2012

Name that road

The stories behind the double lines in Mercer County

By JAMIE PARSELL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD —  Can you tell me how to get to Country Girl Road? Or would you rather take a stroll on Country Stroll Road? Need a laugh? Visit Humor Road in Giatto. There are more than 2,500 different roads on 911 Director Robert Hoge’s list for Mercer County. And some of them have rather unusual names. There are roads named after animals — Moo Cow Road in Glenwood and Chicken Farm Road off Route 20 in Bluefield. Not to mention, Gobbler Road in Glenwood, Grizzly Road in Bluewell and Wolf Creek Road in Spanishburg.

Flowers are popular too, according to Jasmine Drive in Bluefield, Dahlia Street in Montcalm and Kellysville’s Dandelion Drive. Some road names have a more welcoming feeling — Hope Lane, Heart Lane, both of Princeton, Heavenly Acres in Kegley, and Lovenest Road in Green Valley.

“We use a combination of every word to come up with names,” Hoge said. “We use search word books and crossword puzzles, county history books and topographic maps.”

Recently, Hoge discovered a road with an unusual name.

“Hoot Owl Hollow Road is near Oakvale,” he said. “We found it on a topographic map.”

He said folks in Mercer County are always asking him about the meanings of road names in Mercer County. One road in particular is Twelve Mile Road in Princeton.

“The road is not 12 miles long,” Hoge said laughing. “But there is a creek that runs down by Interstate 77, below the road. The creek is named Twelve Mile Creek.”

Historically, Hoge said, he learned the story behind the name from a Mercer County History Book. During the Civil War, Union soldiers camped out at the headwaters of Twelve Mile Creek during the Battle of Pigeon Roost. He said the headwaters are located near Twelve Mile Road and Mt. Herob Road.

Lois Miller, president of the Mercer County Historical Society, said author Kyle McCormick book “The Story of Mercer County” tells about several roads in the area.

“The name Greasy Ridge is applied to a road leading from east Princeton to Oakvale ... there was an old woman who lived there and she had a white mule. She would raid the spring houses of the county for butter and eggs. One warm day, the butter melted ... and led a trail to her home, where officers arrested her. Her home road was then called Greasy Ridge,” Miller said.

The book also mentions Jessie’s Knob, which is at the extreme east end of East River mountain, where it joins with Bluckhorn Mountain.

“It was named after Jessie Thomas. This man owned property at one time and went through a misfortune and lost it. He was accustomed to saying, ‘I once owned a mountain’,” Miller said.

A few roads have been named after former citizens of Mercer County, Miller added. Straley Avenue was named after Harrison W. Straley, a prominent attorney and book author. And Gott Road, located in Green Valley, was named after the Gott family, who owned and operated Gott Undertaking Funeral Home.

“The name Casher’s hill came about a two-fold way. About 1838, there appeared in Casher’s Hill, a man named George Cash. Where he came from no one knows. George Cash planted a Joshua Money tree on the top slope of Casher’s Hill. By the side of the tree, he planted a Solomon Penny Vine which has penny-like objects on it. The Joshua Tree had dollar-like cactus discs on it. The two together became know as the money tree, thus adding the name cash, the hill became know as Casher’s Hill,” Miller said.

Half of Casher’s Hill is in Summers County; the other half is in Mercer County.

Hoge said a lot of roads have been around for a long time and the origins of the names have been lost in history. Since 1995, Hoge said 911 has been naming roads, changing them rural routes to street names.

“We still have a couple of rural routes left in Mercer County. We are in the process of getting those changed over,” he said.

— Contact Jamie Parsell at jparsell@bdtonline.com