West Virginia History

Construction Completed at the Golden Rule; Rehabilitation of the Golden Rule #3.

Cleaning up the last bits of construction at The Golden Rule building 1907- Jan 19th 2020

It has been a very long 3 years of construction, and a year of clean up to get to this post. The rehabilitation of the Golden Rule Building is complete. We are ready to move our equipment and fixtures back into the building starting in Feb. It is almost unbelievable that I will be finished with my small portion of this project very soon.

The ten upper story apartments are fully rented and have given Belington, WV much needed quality housing. Soon I will help to bring a new economic driver to downtown with a cafe’, train ticket booth, train themed gift shop, and an artist market. Here are some of the views from the finished apartments before they were rented.

The first floor took another month to fully finish, but the the style and feel is very much the same. The main difference between the first floor space and the upper floors is the open floor plan. Walls have been removed that surround the water powered elevator shaft. It is nice to be able to see the lift from all sides of the main floor. The elevator has been restored and is operable from the basement to the first floor. It will never carry any passengers or freight but can be used for a display to display how water hydraulics worked. We have also kept the steps from the first floor to the second floor. The stairs have been capped off so they are only for display at this time and are planned to be used as a historical collection space. The original offices have had the tin ceilings repaired and repainted. They are one of the only decorative features in the building. Since the building was used as a warehouse, grocery store and finally as an around store the need for decoration was secondary to functional items. The vault is now clean and ready for storage or display space. With the replacement of many of the broken window panes, paint and new lights the front of the building looks fresh and inviting again.

The photos below show the building in the state it was in before construction and while I was working on cleaning and storing the contents of the building of more than a year. We removed many of the antiques that were found in the building and have them ready to return as a display. The less unique items will be for sale to benefit the continued development of the property at The Golden Rule.

It will take at least three or four more months of work to get the retail stores ready to open. We have displays to buy, internet and phone systems to install and lots of vendors to work with. We have plans for about 30 individuals to sell items in The Golden Rule Marketplace. Working in collaboration with the Durbin & Greenbrier Railroad we hope to see the train running this spring and the stores open by June. Covid has delayed some of our work but with a hopeful heart and lots of work the Belington Revitalization Committee, the Barbour County Development Authority and Woodlands Development Group have plans to move this project forward and see that this building comes back to life. I hope to plan an open house event before I leave The Golden Rule for good and It should be a great celebration of what a small town and small development company can do.

I have written about the Golden Rule before and if you have any interest in my other posts you can look here. The Golden Rule Redevelopment #1, Ghost Visits of the Golden Rule, Clean up of the Golden Rule, Volunteers Impact the Golden Rule.

Categories: Abandoned structure, Barbour County, Belington, WV, Golden Rule, historic locations, Historic Preservation, Redevelopment projects, West Virginia History, Woodlands Development Group | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Dreams Really do Come True

I have heard and believe that we must speak our dreams for them to become reality. So after speaking and wanting to be involved in historic preservation and rehabilitation most of the last 9 years of my life it is going to be my Job to tend to the needs and wants of Adaland Mansion a 1868 Greek Revival Mansion and 22 acre property in Barbour County, WV.

Rear entry to Adaland Mansion
Front view from road at Adaland Mansion
Buffet table in dining room of Adaland

I have been selected to become the Director of Adaland Mansion a Community Non-profit that focuses on the preserving and educating the community about this unique house and property in North Central, West Virginia. It is a huge roll to fill and I am honored and overwhelmed that this grand old home asked me to be her caretaker.

Somewhere up in the stars, is my mother and my mother-in-law looking down saying that they think it is fitting, I have another old house to share stories about. A girl just cant have enough Ghost stories, Love stories or Sad stories to tell.

So as I end my time in the early spring with my current project at another Historic Building, the Golden Rule Building in Belington WV. I will move away from some of the redevelopment work I do as a contractor to more of a Historic Property Manager of sorts.

Golden Rule during redevelopment summer of 2018. Murals by my AmeriCorps volunteers.
Current apartment construction fall 2020
image of workers pouring floor to the new elevator shaft in the Golden Rule building early spring 2020.

I hope that I can live up to the dreams that many community members have for this property and house. I am excited to do my very best to keep this old girl alive and telling her stories to another generation.

In addition to my starting a new job, In Nov. we will celebrate the completion and move in of the first 10 residents of the Golden Rule and in March of 2020 the opening of the three businesses I have helped to develop. It will be one of the days that I am most proud of in my life. When those old barn doors open up and people return to the rear loading doc to ride the train once more I will know it is time for me to move on. I will bid farewell to a project that I have put my heart and soul into for three years. I will always be a fan of what downtown revitalization and what it can do for a community. I can only hope that over the course of the next few years I can stay involved in this field and support more redevelopment and preservation in West Virginia.

As I head to bed I’m still in shock that this next labor of love has been given to me .I guess the as the old and wise always say, “When a door closes a window opens”. It just happens that all my windows are over a hundred years old.

I cant wait to share with you my new adventures at my new location. I am hopeful that you will enjoy reading about another old house and share in my journey in taking care of her!

In the meantime I hope wright about the final steps in finishing the Golden Rule and what a joy it has brought me to be part of changing the community I live in.

Categories: About me, Adaland Mansion, Barbour County, career goals, Golden Rule, historic locations, Historic Preservation, West Virginia History, work | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Visit to the Abandoned Nuttallburg Historic Coal Mine Town

Abandoned homes or towns are my favorite places to visit. So when my husband offered to drive Christopher and I to a historic abandoned coal mining town near where he was working I got super excited!!We spent one early morning exploring the New River Gorge Valley and the lost town of Nuttallburg WV. For a more indepth history of the town and its famous Henry Ford owner you can check out the Parks Services Webpage for Nuttallburg,WV here!

We found out about the town while stopping at the New River Gorge Visitors Center and decided it was worth the 8 mile drive to see the abandoned coal tipple and Coke ovens. I have written about the New River Gorge before so if you want to lean more about the National River Check out my other blog posts. They will included info about the world famous Bridge Day Events .

After leaving the New River Gorge Visitor Center near Fayetteville, we took time to follow a map to a community called Wynonia where you leave the pavement and drive into a tree covered lane. The road is very narrow and twistly so the 8 miles seem like 10 before you reach the river’s edge and the mining town of Nuttallburg.

Nuttallburg is a coal mining town that was listed on the National Historic Registry in 1998. It was important due to its production of smokeless coal. The town was founded by John Nuttall in 1870, at its peak had over 100 houses, several schools, churches and 80 Coke Ovens. The coal was processed and shipped out on the rail lines along the New River. The community and the mine were purchased by Henry Ford and the Fordson Motor Company in the 1920’s, serving his car manufacturing plants in Michigan.

The Nuttallburg post office was closed in 1958 and a cap was put on the opening of the mine that same year. The town then slowly decayed with much of the wooden structures destroyed by weather and scavengers who used the remaining good materials for better projects.

Coal Shoot area of the Coal Tipple of Nuttallburg WV.
Under the Coal shoot looking up at the steep conveyor belt at Nuttallburg Wv
Coal Conveyor Belt disappears into the weeds at Nuttallburg Wv

The remains of the coal mining town include a row of Coke Ovens that once processed thousands of pounds of coal for the steel mills that lined the Ohio River Valley. The coal tipple, coal shoot, the conveyor belt cover and the mine head all remain on view to visitors. I was impressed that the ovens were still standing since they are not metal structures. In this case they are just simple brick and mortar domes with a draft whole in the top. To learn more about how important Coke is in steel production click here

Opening to several Coke Ovens appear in a row these are slowly sinking into the mud around them at Nuttallburg WV

Included in the collection of the building foundations is what is left of a company store and house foundations. The idea that over a hundred families depended on this simpel store made me think how lucky we are to be able to buy almost anything from around the world at our local grocery store.

Christopher and I in the front window of the company Store.
Tree growing inside the Nuttallburg company store
Images from company stores near Nuttallburg WV.

At this time of the year most of the house and church foundations are covered with Kudzu vines, for better or worse. The vines make the place feel totally isolated and part of the a tropical rainforest. I told Christopher that I felt like we had stumbled into a Jurassic Park movie. With all the strange abandoned structures,trees and the wild undergrowth you felt like the last people on earth. Maybe this was the perfect place to visit during the Coronavirus. We did not see another person until we were ready to leave.

Kudzu vines clime over the foundation of a house in Nuttallburg WV
A forest of Kudzu covering everything in sight.
A butterfly among the weeds

Beyond the end of the town is an even smaller community of Seldom Seen. It has a nice trail to it but is a little risky to get to and the forest service posts warnings about not getting off the trail due to holes in the ground that are part of buried foundations. I could not convince my husband that would be a fun adventure to follow the trail and take photos so that is planned for a later date. From what I gather this area was the residential area for White coal miners. The town was segregated and the African Americans who worked in and near the mine lived at the entry of the town with their own school and church.

Sign that is posted to inform visitors about what is at Seldom Seen WV
Hidden in the photos is the remains of a walking swing bridge. That linked the African AmeriCan Community to other housing and people who lived across the river,.
sign showing development on river and what the KudZu covered up.
Train Tracks near the swinging bridge remains in Nuttallburg WV

At this point it was time to head back home but after this wonderful visit I plan to return this fall to see everything decked out in the fall colors and the Kudzu dead to take more photos.

The drive in and out of the valley was just a beautiful as the town and we enjoyed the coolness of the trees and waterfalls.

We hope that if you are in the Fayetteville area of West Virginia or near the New River Gorge Bridge you will consider taking the time to see this beautiful park and learn more about West Virginia and its history.

Categories: Abandoned structure, antique, Appalachian Mountains, Coal Mine, historic locations, Historic Preservation, New River Gorge, West Virginia History | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

The Golden Rule Under Construction #2

The first line of my recent press release about the Golden Rule said,” The Future of the Golden Rule is in Sight”. That was amazing to write and is exciting to watch. So if you have been following me long you know about the wonderful building the company I work for is the process of redeveloping. If you are new here, let me take a moment to explain just a bit about the Golden Rule.

I work for a housing and community developer called, Woodlands Development Group, who in the spring of 2018 bought a historic 3 story brick furniture store warehouse-type building in the small town of Belington, WV. The Golden Rule building was built in 1903 and was owned by the Shinn family until the late 1980s and was sold to a man who used it for storage. Left to decay the community of Belington wanted to save the building and its history. Woodlands Development Group got involved and bought the building with grant funds from the second owner and arranged the financing of over 3 million dollars to redevelop the Golden Rule into a mixed-use building. The plan includes 10 apartments on the top two floors and a cafe and retail space on the first floor. I have been working on the building in several different capacities for two years and am now working on business development and marketing for the building’s future. She is my greatest work joy and I hope to be part of her future for many years to come. This is my home away from home!

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Basement of the Golden Rule before image

JoLynn Powers working at the Golden Rule.

So my portion of the project finished just a few weeks ago. The building was finally empty after around 4, sixty-yard dumpsters and around 13,000 pounds of trash removal. We found storage for the truckloads of antiques that were not sold at several events so they can be used as decor for the first floor in the future. We (my AmeriCorps volunteers and I ) demolished hundreds of feet of shelves, flooring, ceiling tile and drywall. So construction contractors can turn the building around.

I finished my contract year with the knowledge that my work was not done but going to be different this year. So now I get to sit back and watch others build a brighter future for this building.

So far crews have cut huge wholes in the three floors for the elevator shaft and fire escape stairwell. They have excavated into the basement to remove dirt and rubble to get ready to pour new stairwell landing pads.

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 Crews get the dirt out of the basement of the Golden Rule.

They have begun the framing of the walls inside each apartment and have had time to remove the breezeway that lead to the storage shed. These are before and after photos. You couldn’t see the breezeway from the back due to all the brush and trees.

The Americorps crews that helped me clean out the upper stories are back working on clearing out the basement and rafters of the third floor this spring. They are working to get the building ready for roofing contractors, and the electrical contractors.

It is only a few weeks into construction but changes are visible and teams of more people are working together to get things done. I am excited and so hopeful for the people who get to live and work in this building. I know Tom and I have our own plans to be part of the retail space in the near future, so I hope my involvement continues even after the Golden Rule reopens. This year I am happy to be helping in the development of the businesses, the build-out of the retail space and who knows what else to make sure this project gets off the ground running. 

If you want to see more about the Golden Rule and the first steps in our process of redevelopment you can click here Golden Rule #1. There are many other posts about this and my AmeriCorps service that shares my love for this building and what I get to do for a living. 

Categories: About me, AmeriCorps, Barbour County, Belington, WV, Golden Rule, historic locations, Historic Preservation, Redevelopment projects, rural life, West Virginia History, Woodlands Development Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Celebrating my birthday with the Philippi Covered Bridge

 

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One of the perks to my job is getting to see this historic bridge almost every day and today ( Nov 1st) I got to celebrate my 51st birthday with the 175th birthday of the settlement of the community of Philippi and the covered bridge.

The Covered Bridge in Phillippi West Virginia is one of the last two-lane covered bridge in the U.S. and the only one that has a state highway passing through the double arches.  Making the bridge an icon for the town of Philippi, West Virginia and the location of the first land battle of the civil war.

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Historical Marker and pedestrian walkway at the Philippi Covered Bridge.

The original bridge was built in 1852 by a local builder Lemuel Chenoweth from Randolph County, West Virginia. The Philippi bridge stood for 137 years before being accidentally caught on fire in 1989 and burning the bridge to complete destruction.

Philippi Covered Bridge fire from appalachin blacksmiths website

The closed Philippi Covered Bridge after the fire. image from the Appalachian Blacksmiths website

The bridge we see today was rebuilt to the same standards as the original two years later and reopened to the public.  The new bridge does include two new features, not included in the original plans, a sprinkler system in the bridge and a pedestrian walkway outside of the bridge. Making the walkway a nice place to see the bridge, the river, and downtown from above the water in the Tygart River.

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View of the Tygart River looking at the Philippi Covered Bridge 2018

Since I enjoy taking photos of the bridge so much, over the years I have invited several friends and family members to join me in enjoying the bridge and downtown Philippi. Yet, this day I walked alone in the icy air to the bridge to share in the birthday celebrations with State Officials, County Representatives, and City Employees. Hundreds of cupcakes and cookies were shared with the community.

Barbour County,West Virginia, Philippi Covered bridge over the Tygart River

Barbour County, West Virginia, Philippi Covered Bridge

On this cold afternoon, our community was lucky to have Senator Shelly Moore Capito come from Charleston to speak to guests and remind us that Philippi is a strong resilient town and that even a flood and fire have not stopped us from creating a friendly, thriving, educated community.  Several other representatives from congress and the city spoke to guests on the future of Philippi and their deep love for the place they call home. It was such a pleasure to be part of the celebration of 175 years of this community and its bridge.

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Senator Shelly Moore Capito speaking at the Veterans Park next to the Philippi Covered Bridge.

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City Manager Jerry Drennon speaking alongside the City Council and Philippi West Virginia Mayor.

With my hands full of cupcakes, I walked back across the river on the walkway to my office on the main street. Thinking about how thankful I am to be working in and for this community. The City of Philippi and I not only shared our birthdays together, but we are also partners in making this small community better for everyone who lives, works or attends college here on the banks of the Tygart River. I am not sure there is a better way to enjoy my birthday than to share a cupcake with a friend and think about the story of this town and how I can be part of it for another year.

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Categories: Birthday Party, Covered bridges, Philippi, Philippi Covered Bridge, Uncategorized, West Virginia History | 1 Comment

Beverly Heritage Center Lantern Tours

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Fall is my favorite time of the year. I love to attend events like the Beverly Heritage Center’s Lantern Tours. Every mid-October the Beverly Heritage Center in Beverly, West Virginia has two evenings of living history storytelling tours. You spend a little over an hour walking the main streets hearing ghost stories of real events that happened in the town. Tour guides take visitors back in time to the frontier days, to the Civil War, and the beginning of the turn of the century.

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Karl Mulac tour guide for the Lantern Tours at the Beverly Heritage Center.                       

At each major stop on the tour, guests walk the streets with lanterns to the front porch of a building where you hear a little history about the building. Then a narration is given by a living history actor telling a ghost story about those who have died in the area.  Included in the tour is a stop at The Logan House where civil war doctor John Huff performed the 2nd amputation of the Civil War. A stop at the historic Randolph County Jail where you hear Stella Collett tell about a strange shooting and trial. Then visitors stop at the local antique shop, The Goff House, where you hear about its use as a Civil War hospital and the boneyard.  The tour then crosses the main street to stop at Laura Jackson Arnold’s house ( sister to Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson) where you hear about her son being drafted into the civil war and his fight to come home.  Then everyone gathers at a settler’s log cabin owned by Jacob Stalnaker and meets his son Adam. Here Adam shares about how he unknowingly built his own coffin and was killed by Indians. Then finally you head to Bosworth’s store (now the Randolph County Historical Societies Museum) where you hear about a young woman falling to her death from a second-story window.  In between each stop Karl, our tour guide, shares other interesting information about many of the buildings located along the main streets. 

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A local actor is telling the story of Dr. Huff saving a Civil War soldier’s life who had a leg amputated in the house.

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Visitors watch Stella Collett tell the story of a murder on Elliott Ridge. 

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View of the Randolph County Jail as the sunset.

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Visitors stop at the Laura Jackson Arnold house to hear a story told by her son Thomas Arnold. 

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 Actor portraying Adam Stalnaker who unknowingly built his own coffin. 

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Lantern on the porch of the Stalnaker Log Cabin in Beverly, West Virginia.

Beverly Heritage Center, Beverly WV, Bank, Courthouse, Store and home

Beverly Heritage Center, Beverly WV,  where the tours begin. 

Beverly is a unique place filled with history and wonderful stories. The fall lantern tours not only give visitors the chance to share spooky ghost stories but support the preservation of these buildings and the history of the area. With a small four-block downtown, the tour is accessible to just about everyone. The Heritage Center can make accommodations for those who need wheelchair access.

My son who was 11 on our visit was overwhelmed with excitement to be allowed to roam the streets of a small town by nothing but lantern light. Then at the end of the tour, he asked if we could come back again next year. He really liked hearing the tails told by the actors and it opened a door to West Virginia history in a way he had never experienced before. So we plan to do the tour again next year with my older son, daughter in law and granddaughter. So they can also walk the cool dark streets and hear the tails of a haunted Beverly.

Events like these give kids a new way of looking at important figures and places in our past. Unlike the museum experiences, you become part of the story if only for an hour.  For a very reasonable $10 dollar entry fee, we spent an evening with ghosts, learned a lot about the history of Randolph County and helped to provide income to Beverly Heritage Center for the future.

Categories: Beverly Heritage Center, Beverly West Virginia, family fun, family memories, ghost stories, Haunted House, historic locations, Historic Preservation, Uncategorized, West Virginia History | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Visit to “Old Stone House/ Travelers Rest”.

While on my way to a meeting for Appalachian Forest Heritage Area I was able to spend some time at Old Stone House/ Travelers Rest. The historic home of  Gen. Horatio Gates that was built along the stage coach line that ran from Winchester, VA. to what is now Parkersburg, WV. near the Ohio State line. The Old Stone House was built in two stages from 1810 to 1827 with the caretakers rooms built first with the traveler portion coming later.

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Driving to the Keyser,WV. area was a nice break from my often lonely dirty work at the Golden Rule. Spring had arrived in the mountains and the drive surrounded me with lush green trees, flowers in bloom and blue skies. Even these iris are happy to have the rain stop. GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Travelers Rest is now being rehabilitated after years of use. The house and 220 acres were owned by Gen. Horatio Gates was a plantation farm after his retirement from service as a British officer and a General in the American Revolution.

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3/4 view of Travelers Rest with a view of fire place chimney.

Over the course of time the house was not only a home and guest house but a restaurant and a community Flea Market. Today the house greets visitors to the county with grace and style as they pass from rolling green country hills into the towns and cities along route 50.For more information about the redevelopment and fundraising plans for Travelers Rest  head to their Facebook page at Old Stone House/ Travels Rest.

ack porch of Travelers Rest

Newly restored back porches that had been removed on Travelers Rest.

The interior of the caretakers quarters portion of the house have been restored and have a collection of time period items on display. Several come from the house and add to the warm feel of the rooms. The next project being finished is the living space on the travelers side of the large home and the large gathering space below, that is currently a fundraising Flea Market.

 

 

shopping at Travelers Rest flea Market

AmeriCorps volunteers visit the Travelers Rest Flea market on their way to Keyser WV

The house uses community volunteers and Mineral County Historical Society members to do repairs and keep the doors open for visitors. Maybe one day  the building will again house travelers who are heading along route 50.

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Carpentry volunteer ready to head to the upstairs to install insulation in the roof areas.

The drive to see the house is very rural. Often I was the only car on the highway making it a wonderful relaxing drive. Along the way up on the mountains tops are some of the famous West Virginia wind farms. Wikipedia states that their are 376 wind turbines in operation in the state. I think this ridge was lined with around 30 that were all facing a on coming storm in Tucker County.

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Wind Mills along corridor H Tucker County.

I’m glad I took time to stop and enjoy a short visit to this old house. I have am always impressed and surprised every time I get to see a 200 year old house still standing. Gen. Gates would be proud to know that his farm and home are still in use and are still welcoming visitors along the long road from Winchester.

horatio Gates

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Mineral County Wind Turbines.

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Appalachin Forrest Heritage Area, Building rehabilitation, historic locations, Historic Preservation, Mineral County West Virginia, Travelers Rest/Old Stone House, Uncategorized, West Virginia History, Wind Turbine | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Spring Snow at Pleasant Grove Cemetery

This weeks Spring weather has had it all, sun, high winds, rain and snow. It is as if the Gods of winter and spring are having a fight to see who will control the weather. Even the resting souls in the local cemetery noticed the fight.

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Early morning snow in Barbour County

With this maybe being our last snow of winter I was just lucky to have a camera in the car and time to stop several places along my route to work last week. It takes about 28 minutes of winding country roads to get into Philippi West Virginia and along the way I always see something interesting. Often I see deer or turkey in the farm fields, tractors mowing hilly farms and lots of barns. I also see lots of cemeteries and this one was just beautiful on this cold  snow-covered morning.

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Hwy 119 headed to Philippi, West Virginia. 

These photos were taken at a small country cemetery name Pleasant Grove Cemetery just outside Century, West Virginia. Many of the head stones date back into the mid 1800’s. I love to photograph cemeteries, I have been doing it for years. I think there is something about old historical cemeteries that is fascinating. Maybe it’s because the tradition of stand up headstones is fading, or idea that every community and/or family owning a cemetery is not as popular anymore,whatever the reason, I find these small old cemeteries wonderful. Then with a little light snow you have a place that magic.

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Pleasant Grove Cemetery Fence

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Unique headstone at Pleasant Grove Cemetery near Century, WV.

So while visiting I did find one very unusual head stone. A type that I had never seen before.This marker looks finished and carved on one side but other half is just ruff chiseled stone. I have no idea what it means or if it was done on purpose, but it was fascinating to see such a different marker dated so long ago. I now wonder even more about the life this woman and her unique headstone.

 

As you can tell the cemetery is old and most of the headstones dated back to the middle 1800’s and some have faded and toppled over. There is no church standing watch over these families, so I wonder who cares for the graves and who clean up the dead flowers. The Donation Box makes me think that someone is looking after several generations of families without much help.

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Donation box for the Cemetery 

 

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Snow falling on mail boxes across from Pleasant Grove Cemetery ,Barbour County,WV.

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Front Gate of Pleasant Grove Cemetery.

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Deer trail at Pleasant Grove Cemetery

The weather continued to snow and I had to get to down the road to work so I quietly left the headstones behind.  I will never get the answers to my questions about the cemetery or the families who rest here. I will wonder about them for a long time. This beautiful place made the last snow of the year a little more bearable. I am glad that I took time to look a little closer at what beauty is all around me.

HAPPY SPRING!!!

 

Categories: Barbour County, Cemetaries, Philippi, photo review, Snow day, Uncategorized, West Virginia, West Virginia History | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Webster County W.V. Resident Restores Boardwalk from the 1800’s

 

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Tom at the Bell Street entry of the Lovers Lane Trail 2018.

Webster Springs, a small isolated mountain town in West Virginia, has recently reopened a river side boardwalk that was part of the community over 100 years ago. Lover’s Lane Boardwalk has been rebuild and is free and open to the public. The 3/4 mile path winds its way from downtown Webster Springs along the Back Fork of the Elk River ending at a  small park area and a historical swing bridge.

view looking back at town and 1st swinging bridge along Lover's Lane Board Walk

Looking back from the boardwalk to the  1st swing bridge and the town of Webster Springs.

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Long straight away along the Lover’s Lane Board Walk with a over look spot.

 

 

 

As a lover of West Virginia culture and history I really wanted to see the boardwalk. Originally built just after the Civil War in 1875 and  reconstructed 1890 the boardwalk was in use until the 1940’s. It lead visitors down a path from a old Victorian boarding house and grist mill to downtown without having to pass through the mud and dirt of the street. I also wanted to see for myself if the name Lover’s Lane was even appropriate. I’m not a huge romantic type so calling a wooden walk way “Lover’s Lane” is a bit of a stretch for me. But this is one place that the name fits and you feel the passion and beauty of nature all around you. The deeper you go into the woods the more you travel back in time and surprisingly find yourself in love, maybe not with the person you are walking with, but the whole idea of Dr Gillespie’s project.

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An unexpected find along board walk a water value found at the base of Beech tree.

 

The reconstruction of the 3/4 of a mile boardwalk was the passion of local resident and retired University Librarian Dr. David Gillespie. Who has purchased most of the land along the river where the boardwalk runs and has over seen all of the construction and funding for the project. He also has encouraged the use of the land at the end of the board walk as a park by adding a wooden walking bridge onto a low water island along the river.

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Lover’s Lane Bridge and island park.

In addition to the short 3/4 mile boardwalk at each end of the trip is a historic swinging bridge crossing the Back Fork of the Elk River. Then a paved sidewalk to the main street area of downtown Webster Springs making the the walk about a 2 mile loop. Where in warmer weather you can find ice cream, sandwiches and CVB office open.

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Christopher trying to keep him balance on the 2nd of two swinging bridges.

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Christopher and I getting ready to head across the second swinging bridge.

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View from the swinging bridge over the Back Fork of the Elk River.

We took our walk in the month of Dec. maybe not the most beautiful time of year for a trip to Lover’s Lane but a wonderful time to get out of the house to beat back cabin fever. I plan to come back to the board walk in May to enjoy the rhododendrons and leaf cover of spring.  I am hoping to share the experience with my grand-daughter who loves to be outside and hike with me. I think Christopher and Paige will really enjoy the bouncy walk across the bridges together.

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Holiday Decor on hog pen along the path of the Lover’s Lane Boardwalk Trail.

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Hog pen along street along the Lover’s Lane Boardwalk trail.

To find the board walk you can park downtown in the town of Webster Springs and find the beginning at Back Fork Street across from Minnich’s Florist or you can try to park along Bennett Ave, but this is not advised as their is no real parking on this residential street along the river. The best parking is at the head of Bell Street about 7/10 of a mile from downtown. The parking is Handicapped accessible with the small island park and one of two of the swinging bridges. To get to the boardwalk from here you head towards town and pass a few residential houses and buildings.  If you need more information about the history of the boardwalk, the Grist Mill or Boarding house that were at the head of Lover’s Lane please contact Dr. David Gillespie at 681-213-1205.

 

 

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, family fun, hiking, historic locations, Historic Preservation, Lover's Lane, Webster County West Virginia, Webster Springs, West Virginia History | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

1st Land Battel of Civil War reenacted in Philippi, W.V. every June.

My family enjoyed a day full of history, music and food at this spring downtown event.The Blue and Gray Reunion brings history to life in the small town of Philippi, West Virgina every 3rd week in June. People crowd the streets to see re-enactors recreate the 1st land battle of the Civil War. Where men dress as Union solders march their way through the city’s trade mark covered bridge to face Confederate solders who fire muskets at the foot of the bridge. The 3 day celebration is packed with history, music, food and crafts.

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Philippi Covered Bridge build 1876 then burned in the 1980’s then rebuilt. 

Being the only state created during the civil war, West Virginia’s history is forever linked to that tumultuous time in American History. So when I  learned that the first land battle was fought only 25 minutes from my house and they had a festival about the event, that  made it impossible for me to miss.

Our day started on the beautiful Barbour County Court House lawn only two blocks from the Philippi Cover Bridge were most of the canon and musket fire would happen. We took Christopher out to the grass fields where the  solider encampments were set up. He got a first hand look at historically accurate solders accommodations. He asked many questions that the re-enactors answered with responses that were historical correct. The question and answer that surprised even Tom was, “what do you do when not fighting?” The man answered we play rag ball. Christopher and I had no idea what he was talking about and finally he explained that often times soldiers would roll rags into a hard ball and hit it like a baseball with a stick or spend evenings playing cards. We also visited a woman in her tent who had a portable, foot powered, sewing machine and watched as she created a panel for a quilt.She explained that she often made clothes for the solders or did repairs on their tents.

We wandered through the vendor tents on the court-house square seeing a black smith, candle maker and other crafts made by local artists.  Then in the distance we heard solders marching and calling out orders along the back street behind the Court House. They were getting ready for the battle at the bridge. Tom and Christopher chose to stay on the downtown side of the bridge where the  Confederate troops had their camp and were ready to defend the town of Philippi. I crossed the cat walk of the bridge to get some photos of the Union soldiers following them as they marched across the bridge to have a fire fight at the base of the bridge. Canon fire rang out in the valley surrounding the bridge and the smell of sulfur filled the air. I could hardly believe how loud everything was… Compared to a normal day along main street in Philippi.

 

 

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Cannons fired across the Tygert River in downtown Philippi.

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Union troop members march through the covered bridge to meet Confederate troops on the other side and begin the battle. 

As the battle moved to the field along the river I was able to talk to a woman who was wearing a beautiful dress along side the battle field. She had made her own dress and crafted her hat. She explained how each  person at the event had done research on the clothing and uniforms that they wore. She said that correct portrail of the roles was a key point to the people who did historical reenactments. They loved to learn everything that they could the lives of people that they portrayed.  She explained that it was a labor of love and some people would have hundreds of hours of research done before their 1st reenactment. The day before she had been dressed as a morning widow at a memorial service held for those who lost their lives in battle. Dressed in black from head to toe for the funeral services. She and a friend had walked down main street to the local Civil War area church were singing and poetry had been part of the “services”.

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Lovely hand-made dress at the Blue and Gray Reunion. 

The kids loved to see the solders reload their muskets and shoot round after round of black powder into the air. When the battle was over many of the men shook hands and walked away as friends to the local gas station for a cool drink. But only in West Virginia have I ever seen three men walk casually into a “Sheets” gas station with large rifles slung over one shoulder and no one seems to mind. GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

The whole town becomes part of the action during these three days. Walking down the street we stop under a tree in the shadow of a house that was used as a hospital  during the war. We see an army doctor performing the first Civil War amputation with a dummy. The “Dr.” explains how the procedure was preformed and how to care for the amputation wound after the limb was removed.  Christopher was amazed that they could do this kind of thing in a tent on the grass. The only thing I could think of was how lucky we are today to have hospitals and better medications than these young men had back then.

 

We then followed the crowd up the street for some live music and a hot lunch on the court-house steps. Then to our surprise the music stopped and a ring filled the air as someone tolled the iron bell in the county house belfries for those who were “killed”. An emotional reminder of the history of my state and the generations of people who lived and died as part of the Civil War.

Barbour County Courthouse, Philippi, West Virginia built 1903

Barbour County Courthouse, Philippi, West Virginia circa 1903

 

With our part of the events over we headed home while many more people enjoyed spending time with friends and family at a late afternoon and evening concert. The Blue and Gray reunion was as much fun as education can get for young and old. I only wish that I had planned more time to enjoy the activities that the event offers. The Blue and Grey Reunion organisation website or their  Facebook page  can help you make plans for next years event or help you learn more about the battle and the history of Philippi and the first land battle of the Civil War.

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Friends take time a hot afternoon to get a cool drink and visit while sharing their history knowledge.

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Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Barbour County, Blue and Gray Reunion, Civil War, Covered bridges, historic locations, history, Philippi, Uncategorized, West Virginia History | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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