CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A recent trip to Petersburg sent me on a trip down memory lane.
Actually, it sent me on two of the originally proposed routes for Appalachian Highway Corridor H, the road that someday will link Interstate 79 near Weston with Interstate 81 near Harrisonburg, Va.
As I drove alone through the mountains, I had lots of time to think about the impacts road construction sometimes has on rivers and streams. Anticipating those impacts, and allowing for them, can turn a potential environmental nightmare into a road that lies more gently on the watersheds it crosses.
That's exactly what happened with Corridor H.
The highway's original "preferred routing" would have seen it follow essentially the same route as U.S. 33 between Elkins and Seneca Rocks. Proof of that can be seen today by driving Route 33 between Elkins and Bowden.
Scenically, it's a beautiful little 10-mile stretch of four-lane that climbs to the top of Cheat Mountain and follows the sweep of Shavers Fork to the foot of Shavers Mountain. As soon as the road crosses Shavers Fork, it reverts to two lanes.
Today's travelers probably wonder why highway engineers would build such a short segment of limited-access highway and have it end essentially in the middle of nowhere.
The answer can be found in the creeks and rivers that drain the six valleys between Elkins and Seneca Rocks. All of them are trout streams, and some of those streams are among the very best West Virginia has to offer.
Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, highways officials hoped to extend the existing Corridor H stub to Seneca Rocks and beyond. They didn't, however, factor in the impact trout fishermen and other outdoor recreation buffs would have on the road's eventual routing.