Mercer Electric Railway Company
The Mercer Electric Railway Company was incorporated October 6, 1904, and its principal business office was in Princeton, Mercer County, West Virginia. Its purpose was to build a railroad, otherwise known as a “streetcar line” or “trolley line”, from a point at or near Bluefield to a point at or near Athens.
On July 27, 1910, the principal office or place of business of the corporation was officially changed to the town of Athens, Mercer County, West Virginia. By this time, the corporation had purchased rights of way, beginning at the town of Athens as shown by a Deed from H. M. Shumate to the company and running therefrom through sundry tracts of parcels of land to the right of way of the Virginian Railroad in the city of Princeton, and through Princeton so far as any part of the right of way extended.
Some of the men involved in this venture were R. G. Meador, H. M. Shumate, F. A. Bolin, T. B. Cook, J. F. Holroyd, M. A. Lowe, R. F. Lilly, and A. T. Maupin.
Apparently, much grading and preparation of the road bed on its right of way was done by the Company during the next few years. However, on June 8, 1915, for reasons described as the advantages to be derived by the Railway Company and the public generally, the company sold all of its acquired right of way to the County Court of Mercer County, discontinued business as a corporation, and surrendered its charter and corporate franchise to the State of West Virginia. As part of the sale agreement, the County Court agreed to construct and forever maintain a macadamized county road upon and over the land and belonging to the Railway Company and constituting its right of way for its railway line from the City of Princeton to the Town of Athens.
The agreement was subject to the following conditions: “The County Court doth agree that the said macadam road is so located and is to be constructed on said right of way of said Railway Company in such a manner as will leave the grading for the road bed of the said Railway Company now graded on the said right of way intact and unused for any part of said macadamized road, except in so far as it is necessary to cross and re-cross the same, or to make new grading therefore to avoid crossing thereof and in the event of such change of location and construction of new grade for the said railroad it shall be so located and constructed on the same grade and same profile as the undisturbed part thereof and in all respects equal to the present location, grade and construction of road bed. It is further agreed by the County Court that in the event any part of the graded road bed of said Railway Company shall be used for a passway in connection with the construction of said macadam road by the public now or hereafter, the said County Court will repair all damage to the same and restore such grade to its present condition and that the County Court will repair and restore to its present condition any part of the grade of the said Railway Company that may be damaged in connection with the construction of said macadam road.”
Although the “trolley line” was never built, the portion of today’s Route 20 between Athens and Princeton is, for the most part, on the right of way purchased and developed for its anticipation.