Glen Goodrich now.

by Jay Young

To say the old days of raft guide life were one big party might be understating things. Here’s one late-70s misadventure that almost went overboard.

Keeney’s Creek Rd. is a winding affair that sets out west from the unincorporated town of Winona, WV (pronounced wye-NO-nuh), which is perched in a holler a mere mile or two from the mighty New River. Today, the road follows an improved grade that bypasses what were once it’s most treacherous curves. Yesteryear, however, it did no such thing. It stuck to the rail grade like gum in a tire tread, and if you wanted to drive it from Winona to the New River, you had to cross a railroad trestle with its steel tracks still in situ.

For the 20-odd raft guides living in the Mountain River Tours house in Winona, such a journey sometimes punctuated days and nights of drunken debauchery. In 1979, Glen Goodrich was one of those guides. On the evening he and some friends almost fell from the trestle in their Jeep, “we were playing a board game called Pass-Out. You go around the board and roll dice and land on places, and it tells you how many beers to chug.”

“It’s probably banned now,” added Goodrich. (It isn’t.)

The Keeney's Creek trestle now and then.

The Keeney’s Creek trestle now and then. Click for large version.

“Somebody,” continued Goodrich, “maybe Danny Snyder or John Steinmetz or maybe the Cart brothers just said, ‘Hey, let’s go down Keeney’s Creek. So a bunch of us went. It was Danny, John, me and Linda Sparks in the Jeep.” Snyder drove. The brothers followed in their truck.

Who knows what exactly led the Jeep to jump the tracks and almost plummet from the bridge? Maybe a log on the ties? Maybe just an ill-timed veer left?

“Linda and I were on the edge,” said Goodrich, “So when it happened, we knew how serious it was. The people on the trestle side [including Snyder—the steering wheel was on the right] weren’t as frantic. We were climbing over them—it was teetering! It was right on the edge… so we high-sided.” The move may have saved their lives that night.

Still drunk, the crew tried to pull the jeep up with the Cart brothers’ truck, but to no avail. “We actually thought it was going to pull the truck over, too, so we stopped,” explained Goodrich. It would take a night of sobering up and a tow truck to finally rescue both vehicles.