By Rick Steelhammer, Charleston Gazette-Mail
ALDERSON, W.Va. — In 1890, a lion roamed the streets of a peaceful river town, enthralling some residents while inspiring others to enact the nation’s first leash law for apex predators.
In 1905, an excursion train stop provided passengers with more excitement than they bargained for. They were forced to duck for cover when a shootout broke out between railroad police and members of a traveling Wild West troupe, leaving four of the combatants dead.
The following year, 300 monkeys perished when a circus train broke down in a 1.22-mile-long, smoke-filled tunnel. The animals were buried in a mass grave dug in a nearby town.
The three seemingly disparate events all share two common threads: All took place in West Virginia, and all are memorialized on roadside signs placed near the sites where the events occurred, through a program initiated by the William G. Pomeroy Foundation…