The dedication for the Historic Blue - Gray Highway was held on Sunday, June 14, 2015 in Ripley, WV. The Historic Highway runs along US Route 33 from the Ohio River at Ravenswood in Jackson County to its intersection with I-79 in Lewis County and from U.S. 219/ U.S. 33 in Randolph County to the Randolph /Pendleton County Line. The Highway travels through Jackson, Roane, Calhoun, Gilmer, Lewis, Barbour, Upshur, Randolph and Pendleton Counties.
Picture from left to right: Delegate Bob Ashley (Roane/Jackson), Delegate Steve Westfall (Jackson), Mark Whitley, Executive Director for Roane and Jackson County Economic Development Authorities; Senator Mitch Carmichael (Jackson) and James McCulty, President, Roane County Economic Development Authority and Past President of the Spencer Rotary Club.
The Historic Blue-Gray Highway Press Release
The West Virginia House and Senate recently passed HB RESOLUTION 35, officially making most of US Route 33 “The Historic Blue-Gray Highway". With the support of the cities, counties, and economic development authorities that are accessed by US Route 33, legislation was introduced by Del. Michael Ihle (Jackson) and assisted by Del. Steve Westfall (Jackson) and Del. Bob Ashley (Roane/Jackson), and endorsed by Del. Brent Boggs (Braxton), Del. Isaac Sponaugle (Pendleton), Del. Margaret Smith (Lewis), Del. William Hartman (Randolph), Del. Allen Evans (Grant), Del. Denise Campbell (Randolph), Del. Scott Cadle (Mason) and Del. Roger Hanshaw (Clay). In the Senate, Senator Mitch Carmichael (Jackson) lead the effort to reactivate the original designation of US Route 33.
In 1938 a number of roads in West Virginia were designated by the Federal Government as US Route 33 and the "Blue and Gray Trail" and appeared on the WV Highway Map of 1940 promoting tourism from Bar Harbor, MI, to Richmond, VA. Bernard R. Hays (founder of Hays & Company and a great nephew of Peregrine Hays who helped organize the Moccasin Rangers) was involved in the Spencer celebration of this event. Each town from Bar Harbor to Richmond hosted the official delegation with parades and banquets to celebrate this event as they passed through towns along US Route 33. This highway was to be a major artery for travel from the mid-west to the east coast prior to the interstate system and this designation continued until the outbreak of World War II.
James F. McCulty, President of the Roane County Economic Development Authority and retired bank president, was approached several years ago by Mr. Hays to lead the effort to revive this designation. He knew of McCulty's strong interest in history and passion for economic development and felt that his strong leadership would forward the project.
In 2005 when McCulty was President of the Spencer Rotary club, the reinstatement of "The Historic Blue-Gray Highway" became a Rotary project. Each city and county along US Route 33 was contacted and endorsed the proposal and opportunity for the tourism potential of this project and also for visitors interested in the Civil War.
With the designation of "The Historic Blue-Gray Highway", the West Virginia Department of Highways, West Virginia Department of Culture and History, and the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council have offered their assistance with historic review, erection of road signs in each county, and adding "The Historic Blue-Gray Highway" to marketing materials generated by the West Virginia Department of Tourism.
For more information about "The Historic Blue-Gray Highway", contact Mark Whitley, Executive Director of Roane and Jackson County Economic Development Authorities, at email@example.com.