17-Feb-2001 -- The confluence was located just outside of the tiny hamlet of Hartford,
3.5 miles SE of Mason, WV.
We headed out on a mostly cloudy, blustery day southwest, following the Ohio
River downstream. Southeastern Ohio and western West Virginia had just received
a lot of rain, so the Ohio and its tributaries were full to brimming, and a good
portion of lower-lying land along the river was deluged. The highway followed
the bends of the Ohio, and offered us views of the river for most of our drive;
we passed the locks of the Army Corps of Engineers and saw several coal barges
tacking along the river. Soon we came upon the tiny hamlet of Hartford, W. Va.,
just down river from New Haven, W. Va. in West Virginia's "Little
Connecticut." Following the street map from the confluence website, we
approached the confluence from the NE by turning off U.S. 33 onto an unmarked,
rutted gravel road that bisected a trailer park (consisting of a half-dozen trailers at
most) and a tractor trailer parking lot. We were serenaded by the chained-up
dogs of the trailer park and got a curious glance from the locals as we bounced
through the ruts and drove "out of town," a few hundred feet up a small
hill and around a bend. The road wound into the woods, following a stream
swollen with the recent severe rains. Our drive came to an abrupt end when we
came to a metal gate across the road and a "Posted" sign. Our GPS
receiver indicated that the confluence point was somewhere SW of our current
position, beyond the gate.
We stood in the mud by our car, watching rivulets of water run down the hill
to the west, across the road, down a steep incline, and into the creek below.
The creek to our east was so full the whole gully had become an undifferentiated
swamp with trees standing in deep brown water and floating trash. An abandoned
clothes drier and some cans were strewn down the slope leading to the creek.
We weren't that far from the trailer park and we could still hear traffic passing by
on the highway. The GPS receiver indicated that the confluence point was still
a couple hundred yards off, too close to pass up.
We conferred for a while and decided that if we could get in and out quickly,
we'd risk the wrath of the landowner. We stepped over the gate and jogged
down the gravel road. We walked along the creek and then left the gravel
road to follow a trail south around a small pond. When the trail ended we were
within a few feet of the confluence and walked a few steps over swampy
ground and through some brambles to the stunningly unspectacular spot. The
trees were gray, the sky was gray, the water in the pond was gray-brown, the
wind began to blow and a light snow started to fall. We took our photographs,
flailed back through the briars to the trail, hurried back to the road, back over
the gate, back to our car, and left.