Tuesday, May 31, 2011
I hopped onto the NBRT early this morning looking to get as far as I could before the predicted 98 degree heat made an appearance. In only a few miles I found myself in West Union, feeling a sense of deja vu.
The county seat of Doddridge County, West Virginia, West Union's early history was inextricably linked with the B&O. When the railroad company built a depot on the opposite river bank from the Union, a town slowly formed up around it, becoming West Union.
Times have been hard the last fifty years or so; the railroad disbanded, the mineable coal and oil was thought to have run out, and finally the garment manufacturing facility left for a cheaper foreign base in the early 90s. The community subsists almost solely on the surrounding farms, few jobs are available. There is a glimmer of hope - recent innovations in natural gas retrieval have brought once unreachable pools within grasp. The future for West Union, however, is still filled with uncertainty.
The bulk of my day was spent traveling between West Union and the town of Pennsboro, twelve miles away. Two tunnels, including Central Station, the longest on the NBRT at over two thousand feet, cooled me down whenever I neared spontaneous combustion.
I would hate to be the cause of a wildfire.
Most of the country in between was unpopulated and that meant I saw more animals, including deer, groundhogs, and rabbits. I also spotted my first possum. Well, I should say my first possum that had not previously experienced the joys of rigor mortis via contact with a passing motorist. I didn't even need to be very observant - as I sat resting the fellow just came through the bush and stopped a mere fifteen feet from me. He slowly turned away and headed down the adjacent road, no doubt late for his appointment with a bumper.
I reached Pennsboro a little after three and managed to snag the very last room at the Legacy Inn. With fifteen more miles to my credit I have now gone 494 miles since Cape Henlopen.