Alternative pipeline routes create new heartaches in Nelson County

The pavement turns to dirt where Wheeler’s Cove Road begins in Elma. It winds upward along a rushing creek through mountain hollows in eastern Nelson County, a few miles as the crow flies from the native roots of “The Waltons” television series.

Electricity and telephone service came because the families who have lived here for generations petitioned for it, but now they face an intrusion of modern life they say they do not want or need as Dominion Transmission Inc. plots a path for a 42-inch, high-pressure pipeline to carry natural gas from the shale fields of West Virginia to the Virginia and North Carolina coasts.

“We had to fight to get the good stuff up here,” said Wisteria Johnson, whose family has lived here for 120 years of written history and many more of oral tradition. “The bad stuff is coming in without any invitation.”

“It doesn’t give anything to the people it’s going through,” she said. “The electricity gave us light. The phone gave us communication. The pipeline doesn’t give us anything except heartbreak.”

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