Published On: Wed, Aug 20th, 2014

Group seeks help in protecting Travelers’ Repose

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Travelers' Repose in Bartow will be offered at auction on September 27.

Travelers’ Repose in Bartow will be offered at auction on September 27.

Like the Confederate troops that dug in on the property in 1861, a regional preservation group has mobilized to protect Travelers’ Repose. The non-profit Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike Alliance (SPTA) works to protect historic sites along the turnpike, which the Commonwealth of Virginia completed in 1850.

SPTA coordinator Terry Hackney issued a statement on Monday, seeking help to preserve the Pocahontas County landmark, which will be offered at auction next month.

“Interested historians and preservationists working with the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike Alliance are attempting to secure funding to acquire and protect historic Travellers Repose & Camp Bartow,” Hackney wrote. “Talks are underway with land preservation organizations to find a way to preserve this important Pocahontas County landmark. Any individual or organization interested in helping to preserve this historic site is encouraged to contact the Alliance at info@spturnpike.org.”

Travelers’ Repose, the first stagecoach stop west of the Alleghenies, was built about 1845. It was the scene of an early Civil War battle in October 1861. The site contains Confederate fortifications, a Confederate cemetery and historic buildings. Earlier this month, the property owners, heirs of the late Jessie Beard Powell, announced that Travelers’ Repose would be offered for sale at auction on September 27. The property is advertised on the Greenways Real Estate and Auction, Inc., website.

The SPTA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose primary purpose is to identify and preserve historical, archaeological, cultural, natural, recreational, and scenic intrinsic qualities along the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike Byway corridor; educate and raise public awareness of stakeholders and visitors along the Byway about the history of the Turnpike and value of the intrinsic resources; encourage public involvement and stewardship for the Turnpike Byway and it’s intrinsic resources; and encourage visitation and heritage tourism to the Byway, in order to provide public education and to build support for the stewardship of the Turnpike resources.

The SPTA website contains the following information:

“The Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike is an historic road from Virginia’s upper Shenandoah Valley to the Ohio River. Begun in 1838 and completed by 1850, it was designed by master engineer Claudius Crozet. The turnpike was the gateway to the Shenandoah Valley and was prized by both Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War as essential for control of western Virginia.”

“One of the earliest campaigns of the Civil War was fought for control of this turnpike, and the access it provided to the B&O Railroad. The Battle Of Rich Mountain gave the Federals control of the turnpike, of the Tygarts Valley, and of all of the territory of western Virginia to the north and west, including the railroad. Union General George McClellan’s victory brought him promotion to command the Army of the Potomac. The Federals then fortified at Cheat Summit, and the Confederates established fortifications at Bartow and Allegheny. There they faced each other over the turnpike through the fall 1861 and over the winter. General Robert E. Lee’s attempt to attack Cheat Summit Fort, and Federal attempts to attack Camp Bartow and Camp Allegheny, all failed to dislodge the enemy.”

For more information, see the SPTA website at spturnpike.org.

About the Author

- Geoff Hamill can be contacted at gshamill@pocahontastimes.com