James River and Kanawha Turnpike, the Virginia State Road
The James River and Kanawha Turnpike began as the Virginia State Road, created to connect eastern Virginia to her possessions west of the Appalachian Mountains. Originally conceived by George Washington, the road reached the Ohio River in the 1790s and continued westward to Lexington in central Kentucky, then part of Virginia.
Backstory and Context
The old James River and Kanawha Turnpike was very important to the development of western Virginia. Designed to connect the Atlantic Ocean area of Virginia to the Ohio River and points west, it played a major roll in western settlement. It was enlarged to serve automobiles and railroads paralleled its course. It moved settlers west and western produce east. The section in Cabell County has an equally interesting history. In the 1890s the C & O Railroad decided to modernize it tracks and surveyed a new track through Cabell County. The old right of way was donated to the state of West Virginia to build US 60. That should explain how we have a straight highway while most every other road in West Virginia is crooked. The old James River and Kanawha Road is still visible and used in most of the county as can be followed from Milton through Barboursville, then into Huntington (Norway Avenue) where it met the Ohio River at the foot of 16th Street.