Hubcaps on a pole: Spring is coming to Morgantown

They call it “The Rim Reaper.” 

That would have been a perfect opening for this story — an ominous nickname for the wooden pole that stands waiting, watching and collecting hubcaps next to a constantly busted stretch of Stewart Street just outside Morgantown city limits and right in front of Shorty Anderson’s Auto Service. 

Help me out, Travis. 

“Well, we’ve actually never named it. We should come up with something,” the garage’s co-owner, Travis Rowan, said. “Pothole Pole or something.” 


Either way, Travis credits his brother and business partner, Shawn Rowan, with the current iteration of Stewart Street’s hubcap headstone, which he admits is probably the best one yet. 

It’s so striking, in fact, that it’s drawing admirers. 

“I live right down the street. I’ve been swerving around these holes into the other lane, and I know my girlfriend has the same issue,” Luke Meighen said Thursday afternoon. “So I just stopped to take a picture of it because I had to show her. It’s just craziness.”  

The good news is the street and the pole have likely claimed their last hubcap, for now.  

A crew with the West Virginia Division of Highways filled the holes Thursday morning. 

The bad news is it won’t last. It never does. 

“They were here this morning when I pulled in. I asked if they were here to fill the holes. One of the guys told me, ‘We’re going to do what we can, but until the water problem is fixed, it doesn’t matter,’” Travis Rowan said. “And he’s right.” 

About that water — Morgantown Utility Board Communications Director Chris Dale said there are multiple factors at work. 

One is groundwater that continues to push up through the asphalt despite work in recent years from the DOH, with assistance from MUB, to install and improve an underdrain system. 

“The second issue is that the stormwater ditch along Stewart Street obviously needs regraded to increase its capacity. Currently, this is not possible because of a sanitary sewer pipe that runs just beneath the ditch surface. So, increasing the depth of the ditch is not currently possible,” Dale explained. 

Replacement of that section of sewer line is not included in MUB’s forthcoming Popenoe Run sanitary and stormwater project, which basically runs from Shorty Anderson’s to the stadium parking lot side of Willowdale Road. 

Besides, Dale continued, the pipe running down Stewart Street can’t be replaced at a greater depth until the Popenoe Run project is completed. 

Which means the Rim Reaper (a.k.a. Pothole Pole) likely hasn’t made its final appearance, and motorists like Meighen will once again get the choice of driving on the wrong side of the road or leaving parts behind.  

“It’s kind of one of those things where you just hold on, grip the seat and hope for the best,” he said. 

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