Roadtrip Mountaineer Expressway — Hank Williams

West Virginia/Virginia

July 2011 & July 2014

Lisa and I make a road trip on the Mountaineer Expressway and beyond.  This is one of eleven columns from that trip.


Next along Route 19 is Fayetteville, the Coolest Small Town.  A highway sign attests to this claim.  Also according to Budget Travel Magazine, Fayetteville, West Virginia, is one of the “Top 10 Coolest Small Towns in America.”  Or was, in 2006.  Lots of recreation:  whitewater rafting, rock climbing, biking, hiking.  I assume it’s been cool since then too.

This section of US-19 is the Hank Williams Sr Memorial Road.  Mr Williams was called the father of contemporary country music, and his songbook included folk, blues and gospel.  He lived in the early to mid 20th century and we’re pretty sure he died in the back of his new Cadillac, being driven to a concert.

This length of the highway is designated a memorial to Williams as it was on this road where he died.  Or maybe not.  You’d think locating a famous dead person wouldn’t be that hard.

Two West Virginia communities, Hilltop and Oak Hill, both claim the title of Hank Williams’ Official Place of Death.  As is done in reasonable times, the dispute was settled thus;  One town now claims that it is the last place Williams was seen alive.  The other alleges that this is where Williams was “discovered dead.”

He was 29 years old.

This is a verse from his last release…

Now you’re lookin’ at a man that’s gettin’ kind-a mad

I had lots of luck but it’s all been bad

No matter how I struggle and strive

I’ll never get out of this world alive

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