|By Bob Weaver |
Within the boundaries of Calhoun's 281 square miles, there are well over 500 miles of official primary and secondary roads criss-crossing an area which is among the most forested in the Mountain State.
Then there are a few hundred miles of unimproved back roads, abandoned or created by drilling, the joy of ATV riders.
Natives or long-time residents develop an accepting attitude of the twisting and winding highways, curvaceous curves, lack of berms, and steep drop-offs, narrow roads that do not allow passage for on-coming vehicles.
Excluding the primary roads, many of the side roads have bone-jarring pot holes and washboard stretches that can jar "the berries off grandma's hat."
There are "kiss your arse" turns that if you meet an oncoming car, it's crash time.
While I, along with most residents, take all of this in stride, I am jarred to reality when out-of-state visitors come to the area for the first time and quickly react to the roads with expletives that I delete.
The Hur Herald has given tours to a number of magazine writers, reporters and TV producers who have come to the county to understand the flavor of backwoods life, most from New York City.
Traveling on our narrow, twisting and bumpy by-ways, a few of them had a spiritual experience, issuing exclamatory statements uttering God's name.
After taking one writer up the right fork of Crummies Creek and then down Henry's Fork from the Corder Bridge, it seemed like he was developing a panic disorder as we went around turns, obvious that if we had met a vehicle there was no alternative but crash.
On Barnes Run, a few years ago about a third of the roadway slipped into a deep hollow, about 150 feet straight down, creating one-way traffic. The highway department initially posted warning signs and flashing lights to warn motorists.
These years later, there are no warning lights and little signage, and local drivers just take the risk for-granted. (They did fix it)
At another stretch, meeting a vehicle offered two choices, plowing into a ditch line with the wheels up on the hillside, or falling straight down into a deep ravine, the narrow surfaced road inches from the drop-off.
I explained to the writer, a pleasant young man, that in Calhoun we survive by the law of probability. With little traffic on these roadways, we're probably not going to meet an on-coming vehicle.
I explained that most Calhoun drivers know how to courteously yield, and have terrific back-up skills to a wider spots to allow passage.
I explained that their driving skills were so evolved they had developed the art of squeaking by, with clearance between the vehicles sometimes paper thin.
At the end of the daylong visit and lots of expletives, he seemed to be a man of faith.