Start your journey on the Upper Laurel Trail, which is directly across the road from the parking area and marked by dark blue blazes. Follow the trail until you come to a tree on the left marked with a double blue blaze. If also doing the HARTFORD’S GRIST MILL or ELPO ROCK cache, take the trail that leads to the left. Otherwise, take the trail on the right. Either direction will bring you to the White Oak Trail.
The White Oak Trail follows the course of the New Manchester Turnpike. “Building Blocks, Tomlinson Run: The Early Years” by Craig C Heaton details the history of the road:
An act establishing a turnpike passed the general assembly on February 18, 1828. A survey in accordance with the act was made, starting from Hamilton's Ferry, opposite Wellsville, Ohio. by New Manchester (then in Brooke County), to the Pennsylvania line, on the lands then owned by Thomas Wilcoxon, in Clay district. Only a part of this road at that time was constructed, and that had been done by private contributions. In 1848 another act was passed by the assembly, that the state might contribute for its completion.
John Mayhew, John Witherspoon, Thomas J. Hewitt, William H. Grafton, George W. Chapman, Jonathan Allison, and George Baxter were appointed by the Commonwealth as commissioners to open books at New Manchester for receiving subscriptions. The subscriptions were not to exceed $5000, in shares of twenty-five dollars each, to constitute a joint stock company, for the purpose of constructing and completing the road.
Shortly after this act had been reestablished, Mr. James Stevenson received the contract to grade and construct the road from Fairview to Wellsville, and John Cavinor from Fairview to the Pennsylvania line. The road was resurveyed by James G. Marshall. This however did not take place until 1852, when the road was completed.
It led through Grant, then Poe, and Clay districts. A few alterations took place on the original road, constructed in 1828, such as changing the course and making a more even grade. The citizens subscribed about $2000 and the Commonwealth appropriated about $1000.
The road only continued as a turnpike for nearly three years. After which it was turned into a public highway.
As you follow the White Oak Trail (marked with white blazes) you will begin to see sections of the turnpike retaining wall on the left side of the trail. These walls were built to prevent down slope movement or erosion of the road. Constructed using dry stone technology, this technique has many advantages over mortared walls. A minimum of tools are needed and the structures have a slight flexibility that allows them to conform to settlement. Mortared walls have a shorter lifespan because rain and snow get trapped in mortar seams and push the joints apart, whereas a correctly built dry stone wall drains naturally without damage.
The cache is located near the largest remaining artifact of the turnpike, a testament to dry stone durability, as it has resisted the onslaught of Mother Nature for over one hundred fifty years. It is not necessary to enter the ravine to locate the cache.
The cache is a rectangular 12.5 cup plastic Sterlite Ultra Latch container placed with permission of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Section. The hike to the cache and back to your vehicle is slightly over 2.25 miles. It uses the same trail system as two excellent skyraider caches, HARTFORD’S GRIST MILL and ELPO ROCK.