Origin of name "Pickle Street" remains a central W.Va. mystery

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Editor David Sibray at Pickle Street sign
Editor David Sibray indulges in the tradition of having one's photo taken at the Pickle Street sign in central W.Va.

Of all the odd community names one finds in West Virginia, "Pickle Street" may rank among the oddest.

Why this hamlet on Leading Creek in Lewis County bears the name "pickle" is as much a mystery as why it is termed "street." There is little street-like about scenic U.S. 119, which wanders the valley between and

Several obscure theories as to why the community is so-named have been put forth, though none may ring true, and the name origin may remain a mystery.

According to one source, the community may have been named for a muddy track that was once located along the old dirt road that led through the community. Wagons bearing supplies from Weston to Glenville would often mire in a particularly huge mud hole there in spring when the weather is typically wet.

Six-horse teams had to be used to pull supplies through, and on one occassion a wagon full of barrels, among which were pickle barrels, lost part of its load while attempting to negotiate the hole.

Another origin was postulated by Maud Harris Eakle, of Fairmont, who lived in Pickle Street when she was a child. She claims the place was named after a jar of pickled beans that she broke over the head of a schoolmate who had "said things about my mother."

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However, Ella Bailey Warner, who lived in Pickle Street at about the same time as Mrs. Eakle, once said the place was named by her cousin, Lucinda, after her father, John Clemons, who said he was going to plant in his garden patch and have a pickle factory. She noted that Clemons "did not plant pickles at all, but watermelons, which have been known, by the way, to make pretty good pickles."

A fourth origin may be that "Pickle" had been a surname for an early settler. Pickles Fork, nearby in Braxton County, is the name of a small right-hand tributary of Salt Lick Fork of Little Kanawha River. Pickle Ridge, in Pendleton County, is a short ridge that rises to about 3,000 feet in elevation west of the South Branch of the Potomac.

It's also been said that "pickles" was another term for "whiskey," and that the community might have been known as a source for libations.

Perhaps some intrepid genealogists will be able to determine whether any Pickles ever lived in the little valley along Leading Creek.


Wolf Moon once shone on wolf-haunted West Virginia hills

The January full moon is also known as a Wolf Moon

January’s annual Wolf Moon recalls a time when wolves roamed the hills of West Virginia. Though the idea may seem as remote as the dark Allegheny forests through which wolves last stalked, West Virginia’s rugged interior was the final eastern stronghold of the Canis lupus. As far as is known, the last wolf that lived in West Virginia was shot and killed in remote Webster County in 1897 by 17-year-old Daniel Stoffer Hamrick.

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