Located in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, Green Bank might be a small and seemingly unassuming town. However, throughout its history, this quiet place has been witness to several significant historical events. From battles and disasters to scientific breakthroughs and cultural milestones, here are seven notable occurrences that have taken place near Green Bank.
1. Battle of Point Pleasant (1774):
Less than 60 miles north of Green Bank lies the site of the Battle of Point Pleasant, a clash between Virginia militiamen led by Colonel Andrew Lewis and an alliance of Native American tribes. This battle marked a key event in the conflict known as Lord Dunmore's War, named after the then Governor of Virginia, who had sent the militia to defeat Native American resistance. The Battle of Point Pleasant ultimately opened up much of present-day West Virginia for western settlement.
2. Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike (1838):
The Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike, an important transportation route through Green Bank, was completed in 1838. This thoroughfare facilitated trade and migration across the Appalachian Mountains, connecting the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia with Parkersburg on the Ohio River. The turnpike played a significant role in the expansion of western settlement and the economic development of the region.
3. The Cheat Mountain Salamander (1910):
The infamous Cheat Mountain Salamander, also known as the "Ghost Train," had its route pass through Green Bank back in the early 20th century. This steam locomotive traversed the steep and rugged terrain of the Cheat Mountain range, transporting timber and passengers between towns. The Cheat Mountain Salamander became an important symbol of transportation and economic vitality in the region, until the route closed in the early 1960s.
4. Birth of the Green Bank Observatory (1956):
One of the most significant scientific events in the area's history was the establishment of the Green Bank Observatory in 1956. Amidst the peaceful and radio wave-quiet surroundings, this 13,000-acre scientific research facility became the foremost radio astronomy observatory in the world. Notably, the telescope at Green Bank played a vital role in the discovery of pulsars by Dr. Jocelyn Bell Burnell in 1967, resulting in a Nobel Prize for her advisor, Dr. Anthony Hewish.
5. Flooding from Hurricane Agnes (1972):
In June 1972, Hurricane Agnes ravaged the eastern seaboard. The Greenbrier River, which flows near Green Bank, swelled, causing extensive flooding throughout the region. Many towns, including nearby Marlinton, faced destruction and displacement. The devastating force of Hurricane Agnes highlighted the vulnerability of the area to natural disasters and prompted efforts to improve flood control measures.
6. Creation of the National Radio Quiet Zone (1958):
Green Bank's proximity to the Green Bank Observatory led to the establishment of the National Radio Quiet Zone. Encompassing parts of West Virginia and Virginia, this zone restricts radio frequency interference to better facilitate the complex and sensitive observations undertaken at the observatory. This unique regulatory space ensures the protection of scientific research and enables delicate radio-astronomical observations.
7. Warming up the Cold War (1988):
During the height of the Cold War, a peculiar event took place near Green Bank in 1988. The "Friendly Academic Exchange Program," organized by the United States and Soviet Union, brought together American and Soviet scientists at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank. This unlikely meeting aimed to foster scientific cooperation and build trust amidst a tense geopolitical climate. The exchange program exemplified the role science can play in bridging political divides.
From battles and scientific advancements to cultural milestones and environmental challenges, a diverse range of historical events have unfolded near Green Bank, West Virginia. These events have shaped the area's past, safeguarded its present, and set the stage for a promising future. Green Bank's rich history reminds us of the importance of remembering and understanding the events that have taken place in even the most seemingly unassuming places.
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