Doors to the Past
Ona and Surround country
HISTORY OF ONA AND SURROUNDING COUNTRY, PAST AND PRESENT
By F. L. Burdette
To the careful observer the location of the Ona and Blue Sulphur section
in Mud River Valley is of striking interest.
Extending from Scary in Kanawha County to Barboursville in Cabell County
is a stretch of country considered in pioneer days especially inviting for
farm settlements. This section, commonly called Teays Valley, is a region
composed of gently rolling lands, has an abundance of constantly flowing
springs, and once had a heavy growth of fine timber. At the time of
settlement the forests were full of all kinds of native game, and the
valley was always considered comparatively free from Indian attacks.
Judged from the lay of the country, the formation of the soil and other
surface indications, the whole region seems to have once been the bed of
an ancient lake, or else the course of some large river like the Kanawha.
Mud River enters this old valley at Mud Bridge about one mile above Milton
and follows its sluggish course through the lowest part of the old valley
till it plunges over the Great Falls less than a mile above Blue Sulphur.
In an inviting part of this river stretch, in the largest bend of the
river's course, the Ona and Howell's Mill neighborhood is located.
All the main thoroughfares for travel built in this section of Virginia
and West Virginia have left the Kanawha River near Scary and followed the
shorter route through Teays Valley and the lower Mud River country to the
Ohio at the mouth of the Guyandotte River, or of the Big Sandy at
Catlettsburg. The Old Virginia State Road, sometimes called the Greenbrier
Road, the James River and Kanawha turnpike, the contemplated Covington and
Ohio Railroad, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, and the present Midland
Trail have all followed this route. In this way the lower Mud River
country has long been on one of the main routes of travel between the east
and the western country. The eastern section of the Old Virginia State
Road was begun in the year 1785, and extended from the upper waters of
James River to Lewisburg (then Fort Union) in Greenbrier County. In 1786
the road was extended to the mouth of Gauley River on the Kanawha, and
sometime during the summer of 1787 it seems that some kind of a road was
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