Welcome to New Athens-An introduction from the mayor.
I am Trina Decanterberrie. On behalf of the Mason County Commission and the State of West Virginia Division of Tourism, I welcome you to New Athens, West Virginia. Now, it may seem like a small town, but we were once a great place in the history of the Ohio River Valley. We have one of the best preserved mounds along the river. Never tilled nor excavated. Along with that we have the largest collection of civil war diaries outside the Library of Congress. The area of town is roughly one mile wide and a mile and a half long. To the north fo town is the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam and Apple Grove, which has the main industrial factory in the immediate area.
The town was first inhabited by Shawnee indians. Then came the white settlers from the east. They had a fort up Point Pleasant, and thats where the first Battle of the Revolution occured. The area was cleared of most tribes by 1797, and that's when Samuel Pritchard first arrived. He had a land grant given to him after the French and Indian War, and he was able to settle and build a cabin and a ferry in 1798. The cabin was destroyed in the Great Flood of 1937. Sam Pritchard built the first Post Office and was also the first Post Master.
In 1812, the Virginia State Legislature ordered New Athens to be founded as a proper town. As river travel increased and it became less dangerous, the town grew and became home to a small Methodist College. This did not last. But the river became a major commercial connector. By 1871, New Athens had a rail depot along the line extended from Huntington to the Kanawha-Ohio River Junction. This depot was torn down in 1903, and replaced by the current High Victorian Station on Central Avenue/Jerrys Run Road. The Mound, is located right next to the station.
In 1909 the United States granted the town a new Post Office. The work began in winter of 1911. By 1913 it was opened. It served for 3 days before the Flood of 1913. The flood didn't destroy the building and it reopened a few months later.Most of the wooden structures were swept away. By 1923 New Athens had built an entire new town of brick and stone. The following decades were quiet. In 1967, black vans and flying saucers were reported in the area. New Athens was not alone, There were also crop circles found in Gallipolis and the Mothman was burning on the lips of the people in Point Pleasant. The sightings ended with the collapse of the Silver Bridge connecting Point Pleasant with Gallipolis. The tragedy caused disruption of transportation on the main route between Columbus and Charleston. Traffic was diverted to the Mason City and Pomeroy Bridge and to the New Athens and Ohio Bridge.
New Athens has grown slowely over the last 40 years. The town was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. In the aftermath of the September 11th Terrorist attacks, members of the Coast Guard Station to the north of Point Pleasant opened fire on a crowd of teenagers and college students protesting the Bush administration. Memorial Services were held in the State House in Charleston and the Coast Guards were dishonorabley discharged. With the upcoming Elections in 2004, New Athens is on the verge of a great future.
Copyright 2003, Printed in Charleston, WV.