Tales from the 2016 Road: West Virginia’s “Pot Handle”

July 13-14, 2016, Martinsburg-  My processing and purchase of a 2013 Hyundai Elantra became final at 12:30 PM.  I gathered my stuff at Days Inn, went over to Sugar Hill Auto and transferred everything from the Altima, paid up, said goodbye to the Old Trouper and went for lunch at Blue Colony Diner.  It was time to head south.


Blue Colony Diner, Newtown, CT

The very Russian waitress was rather brusque, and hurried, something to which I’m not accustomed.  The Reuben was nicely prepared, though, so I made do.

Southward became a bit of a slog, at first.  An enormous pile-up, involving three tractor-trailers and eight cars, had taken place on I-84, between Newburgh and Middletown.  I stayed in queue, until the State Police ushered us all off, at Exit 5-A.  I went south when most everyone else headed north.  The road from Goshen to Middletown was relatively empty,and I was back on I-84, in less than an hour. I was in Pennsylvania, a short time later, stopping at a Rest Area in Mountaintop, where my eldest brother and his family once lived, and enjoying the other half of my Reuben.

There was a second pile-up, near Hershey, but it was on the eastbound I-78.  I took the westbound, to I-81, near Chambersburg.  Then, it was a short hop, through a narrow stretch of Maryland, to Martinsburg,WV.

After a very restful sleep, followed by continental breakfast, it was time to spend a bit of time taking in Martinsburg’s downtown.  There are several Federal Period structures here, as there are across both West Virginia and Virginia.


First Presbyterian Church, Martinsburg,  WV


Berkeley County Courthouse, Martinsburg, WV


Martinsburg Arts Centre

The center of town is marked by a landscaped little square.


Central Square, Martinsburg, WV

The house built by General Adam Stephen, founder of Martinsburg, is preserved on the city’s southeast side.  General Stephen’s residence was built of native limestone.


Adam Stephen House, Martinsburg


Root Cellar and Spring House, Adam Stephen House, Martinsburg


Native Limestone, Adam Stephen House, Martinsburg

The brick house next door was built by Philip Showers, in 1874, and housed railroad workers and their families.  It is called the Triple Brick House, and was divided into three dwellings.  Today, Triple Brick House serves as Martinsburg’s Historical Museum.


Triple Brick House, Martinsburg

This city was a Western outpost of Revolutionary forces during the War for Independence, and has had a key role in subsequent conflicts, from the War of 1812 to the “War on Drugs”, of the Reagan Era.  It is now home to major offices of the Department of Homeland Security.  Yet, on this quiet morning, it was a place of restfulness and reflection.  There is much in the “Pothandle” of eastern West Virginia to explore and enjoy, so I will come through here again.  It was time, however, to get as far south as possible by this evening.

NEXT:  Harrisonburg of the Shenandoah

13 thoughts on “Tales from the 2016 Road: West Virginia’s “Pot Handle”

  1. Good to see you on the road again, moving into VA and WVA towards your goal! Good that you were able to obtain a car so quickly, and to get through some tough traffic situations into beautiful countryside. I would have been very anxious, though, to get onward towards home after all the car issues!


  2. I think I visited my friend, Becky Stormer Hartley in VA having passed through Martinsburg. Had to drive through the W VA mountains. Actually saw a two-headed snake advertised as a draw to go to a gas station in those mountains. I saw lots of mines. I did stay overnight once in W VA; Possibly a town named Petersburg.I used to drive the scenic route along the Ohio River from IN to VA. The Hartleys are now back from China, again living in VA.

    I love benefiting from your forays into local history. Such quaint stoplights! Love the limestone too. There were quarries in southern IN, and I feel an affinity with limestone buildings. Another historical bit of exploring I used to do was look at graveyards. Next trip East, maybe you could explore the Nashville (IN)/ Bloomington drive. Brown County State Park, near Nashville is superb in October. Justice St Rain used to live in Nashville, and he now still lives in that area, closer to Bloomington. I used to visit him at times that I could afford the gas, back in the Dark Ages. Thank you for reminding me of the architecture and feel of back East.


    • I hve thought often of Brown County, and will indeed make an effort to visit there, the next time I am in Indiana, whenever that is. It would be on the way to my nephew’s house, and en route to friends in Cincinnati and Kentucky.


  3. Wow, you are really in the traveling spirit. We want to visit the eastern part of our country sometime. Maine is a state I’d like to visit. Happy trails and travels to you! Come up and see us sometime. 🙂


  4. Enjoy your newer car and the many years you will have traveling around in it. I’m looking at the possibility of needing to replace mine one day. Trying to squeeze as much more time out of it as I can. One day, I hope to be able to travel around a bit. Getting itchy feet here. LOL


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