Alderson, West Virginia

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Alderson is a town split in two by the Greenbrier River.  It also straddles two counties: Greenbrier County on the north side of the river, and Monroe on the south side.  It’s a remote and quiet community, that’s had just one recent moment in the spotlight: in 2004 and 2005, Martha Stewart involuntarily spent five months in town, at Alderson’s minimum security prison.

Assuming you’re not headed to Alderson to visit one of Martha’s 1,000 or so friends, there’s still some other sights to see.

If you’re following my route down from Lewisburg, you’ll arrive in town via WV Route 12.  On the outskirts of town, watch for Leland’s Small World on the left.  This old building must have been home to a pretty cool arcade, 30 or so years ago.  Nowadays, all those old arcade machines are still inside, collecting dust, and just awaiting the moment that the floor collapses, and they fall through to the basement.  All this vintage stuff would bring in a fortune at auction, but for now, it sits, waiting for someone to come along, see its value, and do something.

The old Monroe Street Bridge used to connect the two sides of Alderson.  Now, WV Route 3 makes a dog-leg down to a newer bridge, and the old Monroe Street Bridge is open only to pedestrians.

The Alderson Memorial Bridge was built in 1914, using the steel piers of the previous bridge, which were put into place in 1882.  At the time, it was the longest earth-filled reinforced concrete arch bridge in West Virginia.  A replacement bridge, the one that now carries automobile traffic, was built nearby in 1977.  The locals didn’t want the old bridge destroyed, so the town took ownership of it, then preserved and restored it.  The bridge earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.

Park on the Greenbrier County side and walk across…

… into the old (and mostly forgotten) downtown.  In addition to having a few stately brick-front buildings…

… there are also railroad tracks on this side of the river…

… and Alderson’s train station, just down the way.  Perhaps it’s livelier during business hours, but I didn’t see many businesses still in operation.

Follow WV Route 3 west, towards Talcott, WV.

Note: This trip was first published in 2008.

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