Sunday, September 18, 2022

Pool Rocks a Place No Longer on the Map

     I will admit I went down a rabbit hole with this. A maternal great grandfather, Alfred Frederick, was employed with the railroad for decades in the late 1800's and early 1900's in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Anything railroad is of interest.

     Pool Rocks is mentioned in Book IV of Earl L. Core's series of Monongalia County history books as the third stop on the M&K railroad just outside of Morgantown in 1902 and also listed on the schedule in 1904.  (Core pages 280 &310)  Dr. Robert Poole Wilkins explored it further to figure out where the rocks were located and on which Pool property.

Map showing Pool Rocks

   In his manuscript, Dr. Wilkins writes, "Pool Rocks were an imposing, commanding structure of stone on the upper side of the nineteenth road to Kingwood. They were located on the farm of Asby Pool where Hartman Run flows into Decker's Creek on the lower side of the road. Twentieth century upgrading to a modern highway, West Virginia 7 (Earl Core Road on modern map), led to the destruction of this landmark."

      On the current map of Morgantown shown above, Pool Cemetery is underlined in red, the red  circle is the location of the former site of Pool Rocks according to Robert's description.  The stream running into Decker's Creek (marked with black line and name) is Hartman Run (purple line and name) and I drew an orange line under the rail trail called Decker's Creek Rail Trail that is a trail constructed on the former M&K rail corridor.    

Morgantown Weekly Post 
October 2, 1902

     Robert found the above schedule in the Morgantown newspaper.  Core's book lists a similar schedule in his book taken from the, Daily New Dominion, Morgantown newspaper dated July 29, 1902. (Core, 280)  A 1904 schedule for the M&K railroad on page 310 of the Core book also has a stop for Pool Rocks.

M&K train on Decker's Creek having left Morgantown
circa 1920
Courtesy of WVNC website

     M&K Railroad was the Morgantown and Kingwood Railroad which became a reality in 1902.  When the schedule above was printed, the line was in its infancy.  Steam trains were added for both passengers and freight.  There is an extremely informative website regarding the M&K Railroad on the WVNC website from which I have learned so much information.

     The railroad line was extended during the next decade, additional trains were added, both passenger and freight.  The freight cars were active hauling coal and coke from the rich areas along the line.  There was a B&O station outside Morgantown which linked the M&K to that line.  When I think about this, it's very likely that my paternal great grandmother, Jessie Pool VanGilder (paternal great grand-daughter of Asby Pool), who lived in Sabraton with her four daughters and relocated  to Woodlawn in Beaver County, Pennsylvania circa 1912 probably utilized these two railroads for the move.


1955 topographical map

      The topographical map shared by Robert (with his hand writing) again shows the Pool cemetery, Decker's Creek and the pink marker is the B&O Railroad track.  From the various accounts that I have read, it seems that the train track went up Pool Rocks at the area of Asby's property to the north of the confluence of Decker's Creek and Hartman Run.

This map shows in the contour lines the rise in land above Decker's Creek is 1,000 feet.  Not knowing where Decker's Creek is above sea level, it is difficult to determine the actual rise of this area.  Areas on the Pool side of the map list 1,000, 1,100 and 900.  So, I would guesstimate that the rise above Decker's Creek is somewhere between 100 to 300 feet.  One has to remember that West Virginia lies completely within the Appalachian Mountain range....and Morgantown is very hilly....but, I'm originally from Pittsburgh. (wink wink) 

1915 M&K Train Schedule
Courtesy of the WVNC website

1931 Topographical map of Morgantown
Cropped to show the M&K Sabraton Station and Shops

Detailed crop of map above

     The M&K railroad built a station and repair shops in Sabraton (formally known as Sturgiss City), to the south of the Jerome Park neighborhood area as early, or earlier, then 1910.  It was probably at this point, that the Pool Rocks stop became the Sabraton stop on the schedule. The station and shops are not in the same place as shown on the map.  The station would have been closer to the actual town of Sabraton and the shops further down Decker's Creek.  The 1915 M&K schedule above does not list a stop for Pool Rocks and Sabraton has been added.

     The topographical cropped maps from 1931 show the location of the Sabraton Station along Decker's Creek.  The Jerome Park neighborhood area and Hartman Run can be seen and the hill across from the station.  This appears to be the same location on the map as the first map showing the location of Pool Rocks following the description by Dr. Robert Poole Wilkins.

     Jerome Park is a neighborhood in Morgantown to the north west of Hartman Run and Sabraton is an unincorporated community to the south east of Hartman Run.

     The M&K Railroad was eventually swallowed up by the B&O Railroad,  leasing it in 1920 and acquiring it in 1922.  

     Dr. Wilkins mentions that Pool Rocks were destroyed making way for the building of Route 7.  In the area on the map that portion of the road is the now named the Earl L. Core Road, whose books I have read and cited in the Pool blogs.  Outside of town, it does become Route 7.

     Two newspaper articles that Robert sent to me mentioning Pool Rocks that he found in the Morgantown Weekly Post with the caveat, "to illustrate that they were not a figment of my imagination."

Shooting at Decker's Creek Coal and Coke Co.  At its works at Rock Forge.   "Squire [Levi] Shoemaker and Sherriff Core went by train to see about the fracus.  At Pool's Rocks they found the wounded Italian who Captain T.E. Thomas, superintendent of the works had shot..."  Morgantown Weekly Post, March 26, 1903, page 1  (Levi Shoemaker is the husband of my paternal great great aunt, Martha Jane Pool, daughter of William Lanham Pool and Ann Louise Frum).                          

"A twelve year old boy, a water boy, got on the Morgantown and Kingwood train No. 10 above Pool's Rocks.  While the train was passing Pool's Rocks the lad jumped off--falling on his head." Morgantown Weekly Post, August 13, 1903, page 10  (This article told me that the train tracks actually went up and over the geological area known as Pool Rocks.  Perhaps just a stop on the line with a loading platform.)

      As an older woman who does easy hikes, I think I have a need to go to Morgantown, park in the parking area on the Decker's Creek Trail near Hartman Run, and go see it for myself.  Perhaps a follow up blog is on the flipside ;-)


Thank you to my friend and cousin, Dr. Robert Poole Wilkins, my paternal second cousin twice removed, who unselfishly shared much of his research on the Ferguson, Lanham, Frum and Pool Families during our correspondence in the 1990's.  He sent me a copy of his manuscript, "The Poole Family of Hampshire and Monongalia Counties, West Virginia being principally descendants of the Reverend Asby Poole (1788-1867) of Morgantown, as well as associated members of the Ferguson, Morgan and McRa Families."

 Core, Earl L. The Monongalia Story A Bicentennial History IV Industrialization, McClain Publishing Company, Parsons, West Virginia, 1982. pages 280, 310

WVNC Rails Website,


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