Tough Terrain

Capt. William Preston:

“Sunday 7th  That morning rained yet the men continued to work at the canoes.  It was agreed upon by the officers that Capt. Smith Capt. Brackenridge Lt. Morton Capt. Dunlap & myself with our Comp. & part of Mountgomeries vollonteers 130 in number should proceed down the creek 15 miles & no further in search of hunting ground.  We marched at nine oClock & the horsemen (for we took down almost all ye horses) was oblidged to leave the creek some distance for a passage through the mountains which we found very difficult..."

Driving Tour Sites:

  1. Dry Fork
  2. Canebrake
  3. Berwind Gap
  4. War Creek
  5. Wet Camps
  6. Sandy Creek Forks
  7. Johnnycake Branch
  8. War Branch
  9. Panther
  10. Starvation Camp

 


Driving Tour Sites

Eighth Stop: War Branch


Virginians crossing
Caption here

In several journal entries, Capt. William Preston described the extreme difficulty with which the horse pack train proceeded downstream.  The first place the train had to leave Sandy Creek due to a pinch in the valley was at present-day War Branch. 

To view this stream’s mouth, follow CR-1 from its junction with US-52, crossing the bridge over Tug Fork on the left.  In a short distance, you will see a large coal-processing and train-loading facility on the opposite bank at the mouth of War Branch.  Just downstream of the mouth of War Branch, you can see where the steep mountainside meets the river at a rapid in the outside bend. 

Coal processing
Caption here

The journey up War Branch was the first of the pack train’s two difficult deviations from Sandy Creek’s narrow valley necessitated by a steep mountainside and high water.  Although the N&W railroad track was laid early in the 20th century on the north side of Tug River here, the steepness of the riverbank that prevented the army pack train from moving directly downriver at this point also prevented the construction much later of an automobile roadway on the north bank.  There is also no public roadway that follows the entire route taken by the pack train between camps on March 6 and March 7.




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