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The Roads and Rails of Mercer County, WV /

WV 104

[WV 104]
[WV 104]
Highway Start Terminus Length (km)
WV 104 WV 20, Princeton US 460 east of Princeton 6


West Virginia Route 104 is a local access road in Princeton, linking together several disparate commercial areas and bypassing the city's downtown. It was probably commissioned in 1978, when US 460's four-lane Corridor Q bypass opened south of the city. However, only a portion of WV 104 is a former alignment of US 460.

The highway has five distinct segments, all of which were cobbled together from pre-existing roads or various streets:

[WV 104]

WV 104 touches WV 20 at two points in its course.


Being an "urban" highway, the history of WV 104 is tied to the outgrowth of Princeton's commercial development and street grid:


"104" appears to have been arbitrarily selected as a number. It also runs afoul of the state's "even = north-south" rule, so it's doubtful that WVDH put much thought into it.

Points of interest

[WV 104]

All photos by the author, 2013 (except as otherwise noted):

[WV 104 photo]

A: Is this Six Flags Over Jesus? In the 1990s, this fugly box was a Lowe's home improvement warehouse store. Now, it's a freaking church...that just happens to have a freaking lumber loading dock on the side. It also spans a dozen acres, all of it exempt from taxes.

[WV 104 photo]

B: Is this a Shell gas station? No, it's a generic gas station with smiley faces mounted where the Shell signs used to be. It's been like this for over 20 years.

[A&P store] [A&P store]

C: Development of the Stafford Drive strip began in earnest with the construction of the Princeton Shopping Center in the late 1960s. The plaza was initially anchored by A&P, who opened one of their characteristic "early American"-style stores in September 1969. A&P closed in December 1981 when the chain withdrew from southern West Virginia, and the building has housed a revolving door of other grocers since. (Photos by the author, 2009.)

[WV 104 photo]

In 1976 the Princeton Shopping Center expanded with the addition of a Heck's department store, housed in the building you see here.

Heck's was a West Virginia-based discount chain that thrived in the 1970s, foundered in the 1980s, and liquidated its assets by the start of the 1990s. At some point along the way, the remnants of the chain were sold to the owners of Jordache Enterprises (yes, that Jordache), who rebranded the stores under the fanciful name of L.A. Joe...just before they shut down for good.

Am I the only one who remembers this? Maybe so...

[Kroger store] [Kroger store]

D: Not to be outdone, A&P's arch-rival Kroger followed in the footsteps of its New Jersey competitor by relocating its Princeton store to Stafford Drive in January 1977. The initial "Superstore" was short-lived, as the company jumped ship to a new new store with undue haste in February 1985. This is currently the only Kroger supermarket left in the county. (Photos by the author, 2008.)

[WV 104 photo]

I don't know what purpose this Pepsi-hawking building once served, but it was old, and it was a landmark of Stafford's west end for many years. It's gone now. Note the overhead sign in the background directing WV 104 traffic to Morrison Drive. (Photo by the author, 2000.)

Fractional spur roads

[WV 104]

Few "104"-prefix fractional roads exist. Most of WV 104 is either within city limits (where county highways are superfluous), or was formerly part of US 219 (resulting in "219"-prefix numbers).

Road Names Start Terminus Length (km) Notes
104/1 (unknown)
104/2 Greenback Ave. WV 104 dead end insignificant
104/3 Island St. WV 104 dead end insignificant Missigned as 219/20
104/4 Vine St. WV 104 dead end insignificant

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