Planned Corridor H Route in Conflict with Greenland Gap
WVDOH Refuses to Compromise – Won’t Change Planned Route
By Deborah Hudson Kunkel
What makes you decide to fight a battle with the West Virginia Division of Highways? You have to know in your heart that what they are doing is wrong, and that what you are fighting for will be the best for future generations of West Virginians.
The village of Greenland, Greenland Gap, Falls Gap and the Village of Falls are referred to locally as Greenland Gap. The Greenland Gap road curves 2.4 miles from Greenland to Falls. There is unique beauty along this narrow road – you can find serenity here. I also have a satisfaction that the family have protected Greenland Gap since 1928 and Falls Gap since 1940. We’ve shared the taxes, and shared the creek and cliffs with responsible visitors.
Maryland Senator William McColloh Brown owned the Gap from 1881, when, unable to have the Gap donated as a "Monument" for its scenic value, he placed the Gap in the hands of my husband’s grandfather with the promise that it would be kept in its natural state. David Allan Burt (president of Ogelbay Institute 1930-37) passed that obligation on to the family. He fought off Route 93 going through the Gap. His daughter, Marti Burt Kunkel, donated 255 acres to the Nature Conservancy in 1974 to stop Corridor H from going through the Gap. To give away a land that you love is not unlike giving a child up for adoption, if you cannot protect it you must find someone who seems to have the resources and abilities to protect it. You love it none the less.
The West Virginia Division of Highways has treated our objection to their four lane divided highway, entrance and exit ramps and retaining wall that are planned through the village of Greenland, at the western mouth of Greenland Gap, as though we have nothing to protect.
If they climbed the 823 foot cliffs, as many do, they would see the precariously perched blocks of stone, they would understand what damage this large of a highway project would do this close to the cliffs. I find it particularly odd that the state recognized the beauty and history of this area until it conflicted with Corridor H – now it has no value. The recommendations that were made for roadside markers in 1935 include the Greenland Gap, The Battle of Greenland Gap and the McCulloch’s Trace. In 1980 it was named a state registered Natural Landmark by the Department of Natural Resources. This is not just another pretty place in a state full of pretty places, this is unique. The DeLorme Road Atlas of West Virginia gives the designation of Unique Natural Feature to 21 sites in our state, Greenland Gap is there.
Does bird song, creek music and the sound of the wind playing in the leaves have value? At night, whip-poor-wills and lightening bugs – and the stars! It is so dark here at night you cannot see an arms length in front of you. Places like this are becoming more and more rare. The value I place on this is... priceless...irreplaceable.
We are not happy to compromise, but we are willing. We have asked them to come and see our proposed alternative route one-half mile away, they have not come. We are sure that our route will not impact any historic sites, they say that their current route does not. If they misplace a battle by a mile, ignore the 2 Union and 7 Confederate soldiers buried there, leave out of their reports a log home (now sided), call another home less than 50 years old when our local postmistress was born there in 1927 (and it was not new then); that is how they say their current route does not impact anything historic.
It takes more than one voice, they hear the one voice in Charleston but they won’t listen.
If you treasure the unspoiled places please, raise your voice with mine.
If you want to help save this precious resource, please contact me at:
Deborah Hudson Kunkel
HC 72, Box 7006
Scherr, W.Va. 26726