The Andrew Turnbull Network


The Roads and Rails of Mercer County, WV /

WV 82, WV 85 and WV 102

[WV 82] [WV 85] [WV 102]
[WV 102]
Highway Start Terminus Length (km)
WV 102 Tazewell County, Virginia state line, Yards VA SR 644, Pocahontas 6 (Distance includes two deviations into Virginia of roughly 300m each.)


WV 102 is the second-shortest state highway in Mercer County, straddling the WV-VA state line near Pocahontas. Due to its isolation along the county's linear southwestern border, WV 102 doesn't connect to any other West Virginia state highway...and in fact, it has only one direct road connection of any sort to the rest of the state.

[VA 102 photo]

WV 102 functions as a continuation of Virginia state highway 102, which starts on College Avenue in Bluefield quite literally at the state line. VA 102 follows the course of the Bluestone River north to Pocahontas, passing in and out of West Virginia twice along the way. The combined interstate length of Route 102 in both states is 17 kilometres.

[WV 102 map] [WV 102 map]

(WV State Road Commission, 1935) (USGS, 1955)

Though the highway's routing in Mercer County has been unchanged since the 1930s (and possibly 1927), its number hasn't. Originally, the highway bore a two-digit designation as WV 82.

Cross-border consistency was hard to come by, though. The Virginia Department of Highways went through several wholesale renumbering projects in the 1920s and 1930s, and the designation for its portion of the road hopped and jumped around from VA 117 to VA 128 to VA 85 with abandon. By the 1940s, things had settled down: The road was numbered WV 82 on one side of the state line, and VA 85 on the other. Both states desired consistent numbers for cross-border highways, but Virginia was hesitant to renumber VA 85 yet again. So West Virginia did a "number swap," renumbering WV 82 as WV 85 and renumbering WV 85, an unrelated road running through the New River Valley Gorge in Fayette County, as WV 82.

[WV 102 map]

(WVDOT, 2019)

This ought to have been the end of the story...but it wasn't, since in 1959 both states inexplicably renumbered the road yet again, this time with a 3-digit number. And that's how West Virginia and Virginia Route 102 came to be.


The portion of WV 112 south of CR 82/3 is quite old, and appears to have been in place by 1887. The north portion and approach into Pocahontas, however, was newly constructed in the 1920s or 1930s explictly for WV 82.

[WV 102 photo]

While approaching Pocahontas on WV 102, the very first thing you see in the town is this disused 1940s-era Amoco gas station. The building stands on the Virginia side...literally one yard from the West Virginia state line, which the right wall was built parallel to. (Photo by the author, 2013.)

Fractional spur roads

[WV 82]

Seven decades after WV 82 ceased to be, four minor spur roads still immortalize the old number in their fractional designations. CR 82/3 also abuts CR 52/6, which is WV 102's only direct connection to the rest of the state highway network.

Road Names Start Terminus Length (km) Notes
82/1 Rye Rd. CR 82/3, Nemours Tazewell County, Virginia state line 2 Original 1930s road.
82/2 Winding Stream Rd. WV 102 (former 82) CR 82/1 insignificant Added by 1945.
82/3 Nemours Valley Rd. WV 102 (former 82), Nemours Tazewell County, Virginia state line insignificant
82/4 Pinnacle View Rd WV 102 (former 82) dead end insignificant

Due to WV 85's very brief period of existence, no fractional roads were ever commissioned bearing "85/nn" numbers. WV 102 outlasted all the highway's previous incarnations by an order of magnitude, and this is evident from the number of minor side roads bearing "102/nn" designations:

[WV 102]
Road Names Start Terminus Length (km) Notes
102/1 Aubrey Rd. WV 102 dead end insignificant
102/2 Front St. WV 102 CR 102/3 insignificant
102/3 Agee Hollow Rd. WV 102 dead end insignificant
102/4 Yards Loop Rd. WV 102, Yards WV 102, Yards insignificant
102/5 Main St. WV 102, Yards dead end insignificant
102/6 3rd St. CR 102/5, Yards Tazewell County, Virginia state line insignificant
102/7 Bluestone Rd. WV 102 WV 102 insignificant

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Last update 27 November 2019.