“Sweet 16” and Southern West Virginia


04 October 2012

Michael Elyard


I decided to ride down to southern West Virginia today for several reasons – beautiful day, fall colors, and to grab the WV Tag on the ADV Riders forum.  This is a photo-tag game where the riders see who can get to a new spot based on a photo and clues from the previous rider.  The first rider to get there, get a photo of their bike, and post it on the website gets to pick the next location – anywhere in WV. Yes, anywhere you can reasonably get a street motorcycle. The tag has been from the northern tip (Chester) to the southern tip (Williamson and Matewan) to the eastern tip (Harpers Ferry) and to the Ohio River (Point Pleasant and Huntington). I have now grabbed it 26 times if memory serves me correctly.  Today, the tag was sitting in Itmann at the old coal mine company store.  I decided to make a “bee line” there first and grab the tag, then enjoy a leisurely ride back north on Rt 16 (also known as “Sweet 16” since it is a curvy motorcycle-friendly road).  I also wanted to explore and find a new diner – which I succeeded in doing.  Sit back and enjoy the ride!!







Heading south on I-79, the morning mist mixed well with the fall colors.  (Appx Mile Post 80)






Same view without the bike.






Fall colors were nice on Rt 19 north of Summersville. 





A quick (and illegal) stop at the north end of the New River Bridge. 





Although I stopped at Itmann to photograph the WV Tag before backtracking, I will continue at Pineville and work my way north back home on Rt 16.





The Wyoming County Court House at Pineville.  Located about 30 miles south-west of Beckley.





One of the prominent landmarks in Pineville is the Castle Rock towering above town.

Notice this sign was an Eagle Scout project.  Nice job, Mark!






Stairs lead up to the base of the rock, but you can’t climb it (legally).






Heading back north on Rt 16, the Itmann Coal Mine was one of the largest producers of coal at one time. This was the company store.

This was also the ADV Photo-Tag shot.  I posted this photo on the site while I was at the library in Pineville.

As new “owner” of the tag, I moved it north to the 38th Parallel Bridge (coming soon – stay tuned)






The Historical Marker tells some of the history of the mine and the town.





Looking back through the front pillars into the courtyard.  I could imagine this area filled with families shopping with company script on payday.






Heading north on Rt 16 towards Mullens.  Nice riding – great road.





Downtown Mullens (about 20 miles southwest of Beckley)

Once a major coal mining town, now just a quiet stop along the way to bigger, busier towns.






This city marker had 2 historical markers with some interesting reading. (see below)





Somewhat worn, but still readable. With over 300 employees, it must have been a bustling place!






The second sign.






My stomach was growling, so I started looking for food.  Just down the street, I spotted this interesting looking diner.  Let’s go take a look.






Oh, yeah!  So clean you could eat off the floor.  Remember the outside?  You can’t judge a book by its cover.

I love to eat at these family-owned diners rather than fast food joints.  It’s a great way to meet and support the locals.






The menu.  Very reasonable prices.








I was hungry for chili dogs, so I ordered 2 plus a Coke.

The buns were real – Texas Toast, not the thin wimpy buns most places use.  Home-made chili was great!!!

Total was only $6.00






Heather and Cheryl make sure every meal is done right!

Thanks, ladies!!






Back on the road.  Rt 16 north towards Beckley goes through many old coal mining towns like this. 






Interesting Historical Marker along the highway. 





Continuing on Rt 16 towards Beckley.  Lots of nice curves make the ride interesting.






More curves and more fall colors. 




When I reached Beckley, I took a short detour north on Rt 19 for about 10 miles since Rt 16 goes right through several large cities.

 I didn’t want to spend an hour in traffic sitting at stop lights.




On Rt 19 just north of Oak Hill is the 38th Parallel Bridge.  For those of you not old enough to remember the Korean conflict,

the 38th Parallel is the DMZ (De-Militarized Zone) between the two countries.  It’s a “no-man’s land”.

The 38th Parallel also happens to intersect Rt 19 at this bridge. It has become a Veteran’s memorial site.  Very appropriate location.


This is where I moved the ADV Photo Tag.







About 100 feet north of the bridge is this sign.






Continuing north on Rt 19 a few more miles, I turned back onto Rt 16 north at Fayetteville.  Ahh, nice to be back on 2 lanes.






Just a little north-west of Fayetteville, Rt 16 crosses the New River.  Not quite as spectacular as the big bridge on Rt 19, but still beautiful.






Yes, it’s the New River. I wish I could have reached the sticker to remove it, but it was over a high edge.

Lots of bees (hornets? Wasps?) like the one on the sign.  Bee-ware!







Nice view to the east – New River. 





And the view to the west.






Continuing up Rt 16 north, the road joins Rt 60 west for several miles of really twisty road.  Nice!!! 

This is near Chimney Corner and Hawks Nest.





Look closely and you can see the road snaking ahead – back and forth.

No room for error, though.  Misjudge a corner and you will be eating rocks!






After the twisty roads, things settle down a bit as you enter Gauley Bridge.

The Gauley River comes from the right to join into the Kanawha River on the left.

*** WATCH YOUR SPEED!  This is a well-known speed trap area.  ***





Continuing north on Rt 16 from Gauley Bridge.  From here north, there are more homes and businesses along the road.  Fewer “remote” sections.






Interesting family-owned businesses along the way.  This is the “Hair Road Crossing” beauty shop.






Nearing the town of Clay, Rt 16 follows the Elk River for a while.







The last section of Rt 16 I rode before jumping onto I-79 North at Duck (Exit 46) to get home in time for supper.



Hope you enjoyed the ride as much as I did!



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