Posts Tagged With: rural life

A National Quiet Zone and a National Radio Telescope.

I maybe the last remaining member of my family to not have a smartphone. But when traveling to Green Bank, W.V.  and the National Radio Telescope Science Center, I am not alone. This 13,000 acres of land inside the Monongahela National  forest is designated as A National Quiet Zone. Residents in the area are not allowed to use cell phones, WIFI is strictly prohibited,and families are not even allowed to use microwave ovens. I am thinking, I should move to Green Bank and go back in time to a place where things were different and people actually talked to each other. A time when life was slower and communication took hours not seconds.

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Green Bank,West Virginia and the world’s largest steerable radio telescope.

Many people who live in the Green Bank area either love the reason for the Quiet Zone or they hate it. Green Bank, West Virginia is home to the largest  steerable radio telescope in the world. The technology is so sensitive that they could pick up a cell phone signal on Mars and when researchers received that information back on earth, they would think that your phone was the loudest radio signal in outer space.It is hard to wrap my brain around that but, that means cell phones are the “Devil” to these researchers and their work. So I feel like I may have found my “People”. These families, researchers, farmers and public employees all live in a world that is more reminiscent to the 1940’s and 1950’s then 2016. Maintenance workers at the research center are not even allowed to have gas powered engines on the astronomy property. The researchers all drive diesel vehicles so they do not have spark plugs firing near the telescope. The spark sends out  a signal to the telescopes sensitive receivers.

green-bank-science-center-nrao

Green Bank Science Center National Radio Astronomy Observatory

So this holiday weekend my family decided to explore the Green Bank Science Center and finally see the huge radio telescope for ourselves. I have just enough of a nerd in me to find the study of astronomy very fascinating and  always jump to the chance to learn more. This research center is only about two hours from our house and is hidden in a rural mountain community so the trip was not only to see the telescope but spend the rest of the weekend in a small community called Cass.Cass State Park is home to  a scenic Railroad with several passenger trains that run year around. We spent the following day riding the trains up into the beautiful forests of Pocahontas  County for a restful day of sight seeing.How could we beat two great locations to visit about 15 minutes apart.

When you arrive at the Green Bank Science Center you are able to spend several hours exploring the building and grounds before actually taking a bus ride out to see the telescope up close. They have a nice interactive exhibit hall with activities for people of every age to explore. Tom, Christopher and I played with all kinds of fun devices that explained different things that they study at the science center. We took inferred photos of each other, played with mirrors and light reflections, put together huge puzzle pieces and got to see a scale model of the telescope that was beautiful.We walked around the grounds looking at some of the historic telescopes  and checked out a scale solar system display.

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JoLynn Powers at the Green Bank,West Virginia Science Center Exhibit Hall

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Green Bank,West Virginia Tom and Christopher are my favorite Aliens!

 

After our lunch and time in the exhibit hall we were allowed to photograph the telescope outside on a wooden landing area just out back of the main building. This would be the last location that digital photos would be allowed.Even the smallest click from a digital camera can disturb the radio waves near the telescope, so we packed away our cameras as we boarded a small tour bus to see the megalith up close. In a matter of minutes we were within a couple hundred yards of the huge structure. Watching the huge dish move into position for recording the data that a scientist needed that day was hypnotic. It is hard to explain how quite the telescope is when it moves. We stood only 50 yards from the large base of the telescope yet you could not hear a sound of any movement. How lonely it feels to be in the dishes huge shadow and how little I feel when I think about the fact that this telescope is looking not just at our solar system but ones hundreds of millions of miles away.

gbt-from-the-observation-deck-at-greenbank

photo from last safe point before entering the restricted camera area

After we returned to the bus and traveled back to the main building it was time to spend a few dollars on a nerdy telescope t-shirt and cool toys for Christopher at the gift shop. I also got the schedule of coming events. The science center hosts many child friendly events throughout the year and we hope to try to come back for some of them so ….. Christopher ( not his mom ) can learn more about space, the planets and the world we live in.  This very inexpensive trip  has to be the coolest thing I have done all summer.

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Roof and view from visitors center of the Green Bank Science Center.

Just as a side note, I love metal structures of all kinds, bridges, towers, old piles of rusted junk, cranes, old ships, radar dishes and now radio telescopes.This man made aluminum dish is the most fascinating object I think I have ever seen. Its sheer size,the dish is larger than a football field across and around 2 acres is surface space, the height is taller than the statue of liberty and makes me want to take hundreds of photos. I love its maze of bright white structural supports with so much open spaces to look through. I could have spent most of my day just watching it slowly move on its 6 legs with 12 feet tall steel wheels that support the 8,500 tons or 170,000,000 pounds. I will one day return to spend more time with a film camera so that I can take photos really close up and enjoy sitting it the shadow of a giant.

For more information about the Green Bank Radio Telescope please check out their Website at NRAO and plan to visit one of West Virginia’s most undiscovered treasures.

 

 

 

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Categories: Green Bank NRAO, historic locations, Monongahela National Forest, Pocahontas County, rural life, Science Center, State Park activities, trains, Travel, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

The Better Mouse Trap

Today after 4 days of use I have to share my feelings about the Tomcat Live Mouse Trap.I rarely write a product review but for this product I am making an exception.After years living on a farm, in the country and now on the edge of town we have had our fair share of mice. Having field mice sneak into your house, barn, or garage is nothing to be ashamed of and is in some cases expected, animal feeds draw the darn things.

So over the years we have tried to control them with every trap or poison on the market, with mixed results. Most of the time the poison worked for the summer and was gone by fall and a new crop of mice moved into the feed shed for the winter.Making us constantly buy more product that is dangerous to use around dogs, cats and kids. We tried several snap type of traps with some luck but they miss many times and make a mess with the mouse that does get caught.Often times you are just refilling the trap night after night with the mouse stealing the bait… That makes me mad!

Then we tried glue traps in the house…. DO NOT DO IT!!! it is the most heart wrenching experience to have a mouse caught and start screaming for dear life at two in the morning. The glue is a very sticky surface and once caught the mouse is stuck and not able to move. You can’t even pull the darn little guys free from the glue to get them to stop shrieking. Then what do you do with the trap? A live animal that you trapped is stuck in glue and still trying to free itself? You can’t save it now covered in glue, you don’t want it in the house, so you end up tossing a live mouse into the trash or out the back door so you can stop thinking about the worst mistake you have made that day.

You can get large live traps but most of them are too large for a field mouse. I have also seen the price on live traps for mice at 20 bucks at the feed store. So when a mommy mouse found my dishwasher insulation the perfect place to have here babies, the trap problem was on again. I had no idea how many mice we had in the house but we were pretty sure their were more than one. So while out looking for traps I came across the Tomcat live trap at a CVS drug store. For 6 dollars I bought my first live mouse trap.

I really did not expect much from the very simple design based on a lever and fulcrum principle. I set the trap…(no snapped  fingers with this design) added the peanut butter to the bait cover and placed on the floor of the kitchen that evening.The trap door is placed in the open position with the little legs standing on the floor to keep the door open and you walk away.

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Close up of trap door on Tomcat live mouse Trap

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Side view of Tomcat live trap this shows bate tray that is placed in the back of trap with peanut butter

 

The following morning the door was closed and the weight of the trap indicated I had a mouse in the trap. No SCREAMING, NO GLUE MESS…. just a heavy trap that  I took out in the back yard and opened and shook. Out popped a very hot, sweaty, tiny field mouse who hopped off into the tall grass in the field behind the house. Inside the trap was a few mouse droppings that I washed with the sink sprayer and let dry for few minutes before resetting the trap.

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Back of Tomcat live mouse trap with bait tray

I followed this routine 4 nights in a row… and got a mouse every single night. All with the same trap and peanut butter. The only problem was remembering to check the trap to see if it needed dumping. I washed the trap today and will set it again tonight with hopes that this is the last of the mice. But even if it does not catch a mommy mouse I have found a fast,clean, noise free way to get rid of the mice. I do not have to worry about the kids getting into a snap trap or into poison that could really hurt them and for 6 dollars I have found a trap that I can use over and over. So now you know why I am pleased to share this product with all of you.

If I was going to rate this product I would call it excellent. I like the design, the easy set up with no snapping parts. I love that it is easy to remove the mouse and supper easy to clean up after each use. Set up is fast and it is easy to tell if the trap is full I found it to worth every penny of the 5.99 plus tax.I have caught 5 mice so far!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Country life, family health, Farming, mice, rural life, traps | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

The “Creepy Virginia”, Stereotyping West Virginia.

When I hear about people joking about West Virginia it ruffles my feathers. I am not a native to the Mountain State so I find it even more offensive when outsiders make fun of the people I love and work with everyday. Last month I was again disappointed when I heard that The Daily Show’s Twitter feed called my state “Creepy”.

The Darden House my office in Elkins WV

The Darden House my office in Elkins WV

The Daily Show’s Twitter statement that I have linked to, shared a disparaging comment about West Virginia and it struck me as irritating. As usual, a person who knows nothing about history or culture has attempted to paint a crude generalisation about the people who call West Virginia home. Calling West Virginia “creepy” and implying that West Virginia is not the “Good Virginia”, pissed me off for about 2 seconds. It took me two seconds to get mad and then two seconds more to understand that maybe being creepy is not such a bad thing…. Let me explain.

West Virginia is 75% wooded and has a population of about 1,844,128 about 36,488,393 LESS than California! That ranks West Virginia in the lowest 12 populated states in our county. So lots of woods, few people, few big cities, means less of the problems that many of our Western States face. Massive growth and terrible air pollution( I know about this one, I grew up in the Denver Metro Area and you can keep the brown cloud) are just a few of the Less Creepy Problems that California, Colorado and Nevada face everyday. Then when we start to think about Virginia you know the “NOT SO CREEPY STATE”… the one with Washington D.C. I wonder if the Daily Show would like us to forget the constant gridlock of traffic in and out of the Capital City?The high cost of living( 6th highest in the country) and the amount of people pleaser who live in and around D.C. Also does The Daily Show really want all of us to forget about the Crime Rates of other states and cities all over the country? We are not perfect here in West Virginia but we do have some really great things going on, maybe Creepy is not so bad after all.

Old cabin in Cleveland West Virginia

Old cabin in Cleveland West Virginia

As my mind rolled this twitter post around over the following weeks, something came to mind. It is a very specific kind beauty that popped into my imagination. An image of something that is not found just anywhere but in the deep hollows and on the high ridge tops. The beauty of the ancient and of the decaying, the beauty of the “Wild and Wonderful”. The beauty that is found in hard work and long-suffering,the kind of beauty that is epic and larger than a single story. These are not the images of perfect clean beaches, crisp snow-covered vistas or smooth sandy deserts. They are not images of the huge skyscrapers or modern metro stations. They are images that are creepy and I love them.

Kenchelo road barn before being torn down

Kincheloe road barn before being torn down 2015.

I am not a fantastic writer or photographer, but I have dedicated my blog to trying to share the magic of my state. I share my love of  the creepy, decaying, damp, world that I see every day.

Fairy Mushroom in the woods of West Virginia

Fairy Mushroom in the woods of West Virginia

Snail on river moss, cleveland, WV

Snail on river moss, Cleveland, WV

If you find in some way that these photos  are creepy, then you have discovered the ancient magic of West Virginia. A magic that is not always visible to outsiders, as the above Tweet reveals. West Virginia does not open her secret vaults to all who pass by her borders. She remains hidden just like Avalon in Camelot.Only allowing those who understand her mystery to view her treasures.

 

Iron train bridge in foggy Lewis County West Virginia

Iron train bridge in foggy Lewis County West Virginia

snow bales, west virginia

snow bales, West Virginia 2014

So, I now am wondering if maybe Trevor Noah and the crew at The Daily Show are close to the truth when posting that West Virginia is “Creepy”. Maybe our lives seem foreign to people who live in the big city under the spotlight. I am thinking maybe being Creepy is the very best way to keep our state a secret for another generation.Saving all of us Mountaineers from the problems of the “Good Virginia” and other states.

reenactment at the TALA front lawn

Reenactment at the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum  front lawn, Weston, West Virginia.

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Barns, blogging, Country life, history, rural life, Stereo Types, stereotyping, trends, Twitter, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

A Town that Time Forgot, The Heritage Center of Beverly West Virginia

Often when people travel by car they are so busy trying to reach their destination they never take time to stop and enjoy little towns along the way. Beverly, West Virginia in Randolph county is a  mountain town that time forgot. It is a place to enjoy walking on historic streets, take educational tours and shop and eat in places that remind us of our struggles,our victories as a country and a state.

Driving to Beverly a person leaves the more modern world of strip malls and congested traffic and  returns us to a quieter time. This town is mostly residential, built around a central plan of main street businesses that are all within walking distance. The historic district surrounds a small green town square that is hub of activities even today. The city has added to the historic downtown over the years, investing in other old structures, moving them from other areas in Randolph County.

Cloudy day in Beverly WV looking down Main Street from the Heritage Center

Cloudy day in Beverly WV looking down Main Street from the Heritage Center

As a visitor my first stop was at the Beverly Heritage Center to take the tour of the largest and most important buildings in the Historic District. It is hard to miss the Bank on the corner of Main Street ( US Rt 250/219). I feel in love with its white brick and decorative exterior the minute I drove past. Built in 1900 by  the local Dr. Humbolt Yokum, it was the town’s only bank for 33 years. It is the first of the four buildings that connect as The Beverly Heritage Center.

Main Street Bank Beverly, WV Circ 1900

Main Street Bank Beverly, WV Circa 1900.

Rounding the corner off of Main Street on to Court Street, visitors are able to view the other buildings in the collection and enter the parking area at the back of the buildings. The next building on the side street is the most notable of the four buildings. It is the former Randolph County Courthouse. The Courthouse completed in 1815 is one of several buildings used as a County Courthouse. The location of the county seat would move  back and forth from Elkins to Beverly several times over 84 years. Finally the city of Elkins won the battle for the county seat in 1899 leaving this building to serve other purposes.

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

Beverly Heritage Center, Beverly WV, Bank, Courthouse, Store and House.

The Courthouse connects with the next building in the row, the Hill building. The Hill building was constructed in 1912 for use as a store, pool hall and bar, it has the smallest footprint of the four buildings.The bar inside is said to have even survived the prohibition era with ease.Then connected to the Hill building is the Bushrod Crawford House Circa 1850. The building housed a family until General McClellan needed a headquarters during the civil war in the summer of 1861. The home was an important location to the General because it’s close location to several battlefields, it had electricity and could supported telegraph communications. The historic value of this simple looking home is priceless to anyone interested in the history of our country.

Beverly Heritage Center Sign

Beverly Heritage Center Sign

In back visitors see the main entrance of the  Heritage Center. Here you are able to take a tour,enjoy a gift shop and look through a collection of found items from around Randolph County and the Rich Mountain Battlefield.

The quality of this restoration project and unique way the four buildings connect into a single unit is flawless. Visitors move seamlessly from a modern addition where offices and tour guides lead you to the historic buildings. Tour Guides explain the history of each room as you pass from one room to the next room through natural looking passages. The tour actually starts in the rear of the Courthouse and passes to the Bank and back to the store/bar then to the house. At the end of your tour you return back into the entry area through a second doorway.

Each of the buildings are handicap accessible and the flooring in all the rooms of the center are of traditional hardwoods. Each of the buildings contain a collection of items that would have been found in a building of this style and age. The Courthouse has a courtroom display that made me think of what it must have been like for a judge in such a rural area in the 1800 hundreds. Thoughts of the of crimes and what judges would have to rule about drifted into my mind.

inside old Randolph County Courthouse, Beverly Heritage Center, Beverly WV

Inside the old Randolph County Courthouse, Beverly Heritage Center, Beverly W.V.

After leaving the courtroom visitors are lead into the Beverly Bank. The inside restoration is just as  wonderful as the masonry work of the exterior. The shiny tin punched ceiling and the arched windows make me almost want to go back into banking. The displays in this room are a collection of found objects that were found on or around the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike that passed through Beverly. Many of the items are things that would have been part of wagon or team of horses. There’s also a lovely desk covered in banking papers reminding me of the importance a bank has to a small community.

Desk with bank papers underglass, Beverly Heritage Center.

Desk with bank papers under glass, Beverly Heritage Center.

McClellan style saddle, used during the Civil War and would have been seen along the roads in Beverly WV

McClellan style saddle, used during the Civil War area Beverly WV

 

Beverly Bank interior with tin ceiling, Beverly Heritage Center, Beverly WV

Beverly Bank interior with tin ceiling, Beverly Heritage Center, Beverly WV

When visitors finish enjoying the Bank, they pass back through the courtroom into the Hill building. This building is home to a beautifully restored bar and pool hall area with a storefront window that has two mannequins who appear to be running for some sort of county office.

Bar Room in the Hill Building of the Beverly Heritage Center.

Bar Room in the Hill Building of the Beverly Heritage Center.

Mannequins about to shake hands in typical 1800s dress, Beverly Heritage Center.Beverly WV.

Mannequins about to shake hands in typical 1800s dress, Beverly Heritage Center, Beverly WV.

Finally the tour heads into the Bushrod Crawford House circa 1850 where the Heritage Center has a civil war display area. My favorite portion of the collection is a corner display of a civil war camp site. Making thoughts of long cold nights in the Appalachian woods and the sounds of rifle fire slow my pace through the tour. Visitors also enjoy the story of General McClellan’s use of the house and how important the telegraph was to the battles in this area of West Virginia.

Civil war encampment display at the Beverly Heritage Center, Beverly WV.

Civil war encampment display at the Beverly Heritage Center, Beverly WV.

When finished with the Civil War display visitors pass into another area of the house that has a fireplace and furnishings that remind you that at one time this was a home. Visitors then can shop for handmade gifts and toys popular in the 1800’s in the last room on the tour. Quests slowly make their way back to the modern entry where the tour of these buildings comes to an end.

Fireplace and upright piano in dining area in Crawford house, Beverly Heritage Center.

Fireplace and upright piano in dining area in Crawford house, Beverly Heritage Center.

The continued exploration of the historic district should be seriously considered while visiting. The Heritage Center Staff have walking tour booklets and other information to help you continue to enjoy the town of Beverly West Virginia. Below are some more of the wonderful places I photographed that day.

Bosworth Store/ Museum across street from Beverly Heritage Center, Beverly WV

Bosworth Store/ Museum across street from Beverly Heritage Center, Beverly

Green grass city Square Beverly, WV

Green grass city Square Beverly, WV

Randolph County Jail 1813

Randolph County Jail 1813

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This town has so many  interesting stories and I have only begun to explore them all. My trip to the Beverly Heritage Center was a morning well spent. I will be back and will be taking more time to learn about this wonderful little town that time has forgotten.It was such a pleasure to spend a day with people enjoy old buildings as much as I do.

Categories: Beverly West Virginia, Civil War, Country life, Elkins West Virginia, ghost stories, historic locations, history, Randolph County, rural life, Travel, traveling | Tags: , , , , , , | 23 Comments

One Bee Hive at a Time

bee in pink rhododendron flower on family farm

Bee in pink rhododendron flower on family farm 2002

I have spent several years thinking about becoming a beekeeper and this year I will officially have my own hive. I have followed blogs and read books and talked with several beekeepers about the hobby.  I have been supportive in my gardens to feed all pollinators and like any normal person I love honey. So this February I enrolled with about 40 other community members in a Department of Agriculture class titled “Beginning Beekeeping” given through the Lewis County,W.V. Extension Office. The class was what I needed to feel like I can become a responsible beekeeper.

One of the wonderful things about the class was to see who also enrolled in the very inexpensive class.They are the faces of people who I see almost everyday,there were farmers, business owners, teachers, retired state employees, gas men, salespeople and few children all eager to learn how to help the bees. It was an equal mix of husbands and wives and families who all felt the drawn to honey and the plight of the bees. Maybe it was a mixture of love and fear that made all of us trudge to the 4 classes almost 2 1/2 hours long in the cold evenings of February.

Living in an agriculture heavy state bees are a serious topic of conversation.My community worries about the future of our farms and orchards with less pollinators . They want education and they want to help bees.The classes were eye-opening for all of us. According to USDA’s 2014 report open pollinated soybean and apples are our state’s 3rd and 4th largest cash crops. Those two bee loving crops produces $25,708,000 dollars of produce for our state’s economy. This is only the information on registered producers who sell for profit. The effects of low bee populations are dramatic when you add in all the other fruit and vegetables that are lower on the list and all the produce from the back yard farmers that sell or give away their produce. It is overwhelming that all of this money rests on the winged shoulders of our bee population.With bees in decline all of us at this class understood the importance of our attempt on a small-scale to help.

Spring wild blue bells at Hacker Valley, West Virginia

Spring wild blue bells at Hacker Valley, West Virginia

Honey sweetens the pot for beekeepers who want to also make a profit from caring for the bees. In our class were able to get enough information about bee keeping to think seriously about what we will do with the honey. Our family plans to eat and give away honey with the comb in jars, so we will be doing a more historic and traditional way of processing our honey then many in our class. Most members will be removing the honey with a centrifuge system that should make honey production faster and easier.

Cosmos a bee favorite flower in the backyard

Cosmos a bee favorite flower in the backyard

As spring arrives I will be writing more and sharing photos of our last class where all of us beginners will get a hands on chance to open and split a hive, take a look inside the hive and look at the condition of the queen and the comb. It will be just before then that we should have our hive and begin setting it up in the yard. Around the same time our bees should arrive and we will take the first steps in this adventure. I am looking forward to sharing my new hobby with my husband and two sons. If I am lucky maybe they will also see the value in raising these very important pollinators and will see the overall benefits to our family, community and state. If Christopher finds any interest in the bees he can even use them as a 4-H project to educate other kids about bees, honey and how important they are to our world.  It is because of all people I call my friends that I think together we can make a difference in our environment one hive at a time.

Categories: 4-H, Apples, Beekeeping, Foraging, hobbies, Honey, Preserving, rural life | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

3 Years of Blogging has Changed My Life

It seems impossible that I have written a blog post at least every week for three years. Today is my 3rd Blogging Anniversary. I look back and see huge improvement in my writing and editing. Although, some things will never change about who I am as a person and how I write. This blog has given me a place to share my life and I am still surprised every time I write something that someone out there thinks it is worth reading. The biggest surprise of all is that this blog has opened so many doors for me.

rainy afternoon at old barn along Johnstown, WV

Rainy afternoon at old barn along Johnstown, W.V.

Over the last three years I have tried writing as openly  and honestly as I can and it seems to paying off. I write about the life I live, the people and places that I encounter and tell stories about the ups and downs of a small town life. These stories have not only given me a chance help create positive images on TV with the Barnwood Builders, they have let me share our DIY projects all over the world and write a few stories for a digital magazine called Elkinite.  The magazine shares stories of the  town I am working to help revitalise. My writing this blog even had something to do with me getting at my current job with AmeriCorps. They needed someone who had skills working with WordPress, ( Seriously Strange) They wanted someone who had the skills to build a new website for their organisation.So even building this blog has helped me in my current job. Who knew writing a blog on WordPress this would lead down this road?

Sign at the top of a flooded road at Roanoke,WV

Sign at the top of a flooded road at Roanoke,W.V.

So when I look back at  my very first posts and how nervous I was when I  pushed the publish button, I am so pleased with the results. I have grown, the blog has grown and my following is growing, who can ask for more. I plan to keep writing and sharing my little country life as long as all of you will have me.

So dear friends, I hope you hang in with me as I start a brand new year writing about my adventures in Wild,Wonderful,West Virginia. Where everyone stops to talk to you even if you a total stranger and where sweet tea and biscuits and gravy are the food everyone craves in the mornings.I love my home,and can’t wait to continue sharing my story with all of you.

rocks covered in moss by the river in Ten Mile. WV

Rocks covered in moss by the river in Ten Mile, W.V.

Categories: About me, blogging, DIY projects, Elkinite, hobbies, rural life, West Virginia, writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 16 Comments

New Year Photo Review 2015

New Years is the time when everyone one gets a second chance . It is a time to rejoice in the new beginnings of life and to mourn the loss of the lives we have lost. It is my time to look back at some of the wonderful things we have done and places we have visited. So here is my New Year Photo Review, hoping that you enjoy seeing what I have been up to, Happy New Year from Mountain Mama.

Old Cabin Rock Cave West Virginia

Old Cabin Rock Cave, West Virginia Feb. 2015

Red Barn in snow Buckhannon West Virginia 2015

Red barn in snow Buckhannon, West Virginia Feb. 2015

Tom walking to barn on Kenchelo

Tom walking to old barn on Kenchelo March 2015

Jinn our new kitty April 2015

Jinn our new kitty April 2015

Jolynn Powers turkey hunting spring 2015

JoLynn Powers  new to turkey hunting  May 2015

Tom and Christopher at Seneca Rocks Easter Morning 2015

Tom and Christopher early Easter morning Seneca Rocks 2015

meet Chipper and Splinter the Barnwood builder Babies

Chipper and Splinter the new  Barnwood Builder Babies June 2015

Front Porch of the Hutte Swiss Restaurant , Helvetia, WV

Front porch of the old  Hutte Swiss Restaurant  Helvetia, West Virginia June 2015

Red eyed box turtle in back yard July 2015

New friend in the back yard Red Eyed Box Turtle  July 2015

Christopher and I after sanding the tape on the ceiling.

Christopher and I after sanding the tape on the new ceiling summer 2015

Jolynn Powers holding television camera from the Barnwood builders crew Aug 2015

Jolynn Powers’ new experience  holding television camera from the Barnwood Builders crew Aug. 2015

Finished Family room from kitchen door way with desk in new place

New Barnwood paneling in the family room Aug. 2015

Otter Sculpture at the Wheeling West Virginia Zoo 2015

River Otter Sculpture at the old Ogelbay  Zoo and Park, Wheeling ,West Virginia July 2015

New Competitor at 4-H rabbit show Aug 2015

New Competitor at Lewis County 4-H rabbit show ( with dad Cody Powers) Aug 2015

Rainy Day in the Mountains of West Virginia 2015

A new day  in the Mountains of West Virginia 2015

front view of Henry Lee cabin at Lost River State Park

The old Henry Lee cabin at Lost River State Park, Mathis, West Virginia, Aug. 2015

Christopher Powers turning 7 Sept 24 2015

A fresh new  7-year-old, Christopher Powers Sept. 24 2015

Christopher Powers Playing with Polar Bear at the Pittsburgh Zoo 2015

New friends Christopher Powers and Polar Bear at the Pittsburgh Zoo Oct 2015

St Bernard Church Weston West Virginia

Very old St. Bernard Church, Weston ,West Virginia Oct 2015

Paige and Jolynn Powers playing in fall leaves Oct 2015

New back yard fun, Paige and JoLynn Powers playing in fall leaves Oct. 2015

Henry Gassaway Davis mounted on his horse in Elkins, West Virginia

The memorial for the very old Henry Gassaway Davis in Elkins, West Virginia, Nov. 2015

Tom Powers playing Santa Claus with Christopher on his knee 2015

The new  Santa ( Tom Powers) with Christopher on his knee Dec. 2015

Christopher In the Stocks at Fort new Salem, Salem West Virginia 2015

A new poacher in the Stocks at Fort New Salem, Salem, West Virginia Dec. 2015

Country Christmas Barn 2015

An old barn in Harrison  Co, West Virginia Dec. 2015

Cold Full Moon Christmas Eve 2015

The old Cold Full Moon Christmas Eve 2015

Just as a reminder all of these photos are copyrighted and belong to the creator and the blog site Jolynnsmountainmama.wordpress.com and can only be reproduced with consent from JoLynn Powers. Contact can be made through this site or at Jolynnpowers@yahoo.com.

Categories: New Years Eve, Photos, rural life, Travel, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Lost Soul of Loveberry Ridge Church. ( St Bernard Catholic Church, Lewis Co. WV)

The wood sided church sits on a hill on a one lane road, miles from the nearest town. The tree-lined road is quite and family homes speckle the trip up to the 1910 church. The well cared for church and cemetery were once the center of catholic life in the Lewis County, West Virginia. With many of the parishioners being immigrants from Ireland who brought with them their Catholic faith and traditions. These include the sad tradition of not allowing the bodies of the damned  buried inside church cemeteries. The story of John Kennedy and his unusual burial is the reason so many have thought over the years that this church and cemetery are haunted.

Back Side of St. Bernard Church Lewis County West Virginia

Back Side of St. Bernard Church Lewis County West Virginia

Construction on the single room church finished and services began in 1910. Yet, many of the graves in the cemetery are from the late 1800’s, the graves are remnants of earlier church yards.This structure is actually the third version of the church.The first being recorded back to a log Catholic Church that was active in the 1850’s. All of the  churches have  looked down over Loveberry Ridge as a beacon on the hill to those looking for a place to worship.

Many churches and cemeteries in the mountain state are on the tops of hills or mountains no matter what the denomination.West Virginia people held the belief that you were “closer to God” when you worshiped/ spent eternity/ on a mountain top. The other more practical reason to have a cemetery on a hill-top is flooding. West Virginia is prone to flash flooding and has a wet climate making bottom land swampy and full of bogs if not well-drained. So in the 1800’s a wise choice was to place the wooden coffins in higher locations where they would not float to the top of the ground during a flood or bob up to the surface if a fresh water spring started under the cemetery.

St Bernard and Rectory 1938

St Bernard and Rectory 1938 sourced from www.orlandostonesoup.blogspot.com.

If you look closely at the above photo and the photos below you will see a tombstone that is not in line with the others in the church cemetery. Up against the fence, alone, is the stone marking the grave site of John Kennedy. The stone is so close to the fence that an adult can not pass between it and the fence. On the ground in front of the headstone is his foot stone with just the J.K. marking. This is a strange placement for a foot stone during Victorian times, it would have been places several feet below the head of the dead. It is this grave that started the stories of the haunting at the Church.

Cemetery and Church of St Bernard, showing headstone of John Kennedy

Cemetery and Church of St Bernard, showing headstone of John Kennedy

Headstone of john Kennedy through iron fence

Headstone of john Kennedy through iron fence

HD photo of inscription of Tombstone of John Kennedy St Bernard church, Weston, West Virginia

HD photo of inscription of Tombstone of John Kennedy St Bernard church, Weston, West Virginia

Footstone of John Kennedy at St. Bernard Church Weston, WV

Foot stone of John Kennedy at St. Bernard Church Weston, WV

As was the custom of the 1800’s Catholic Church, any person who committed a mortal sin was unable to have a Funeral Mass or burial in the church cemetery. John Kennedy committed suicide at the young age of 19 making it impossible for his remains to stay in St Bernard’s cemetery. Johns other family members are buried in the cemetery and were people of wealth and power making it possible for John to have the large marker with in the fence of St Bernard’s but not his body. The remains are in the small bank along the road outside the fence. Leaving John to forever struggling with the fact that his bones are outside the sacred ground of the church and without the holy blessing of the priest. Some say that John roams the road and parking lot. That he is always looking for a way back into the good graces of the church and family.

First hand sightings have said that the front and back gates of the church will open and close on their own even though both gates into the property have latches. That a black shadow figure moves around the parking area and up and down the road to the church. That at certain times of the year that the church windows glow at night as if by candle light. As if some one is trying to look out of the church into the cemetery.

Top gate at back of church at St Bernard, Weston, WV

Top gate at back of church at St Bernard, Weston, WV

Back view of front gate at St. Bernard church, Weston, wv

Back view of front gate at St. Bernard church, Weston, WV

It is interesting to note that the remains of the Rectory are still visible across the road where Father Thomas A Quirk over saw the building of this church and lived most of his life. The rectorie’s well, cellar and stone path are still visible to anyone who would want to walk up the steep bank to see them. The property is also protected with a huge wooden cross that stands on the front of the bank where the main house and offices would have stood. This maybe why the ghost is only seen in the road…

Cellar of rectory of St Bernard church, Weston, WV

Cellar of rectory of St Bernard church, Weston, WV

Well cover at the site of rectory of St Bernard church

Well cover at the site of rectory of St Bernard church

Wooden Cross at the location of the rectory of St Bernard church

Wooden Cross at the location of the rectory of St Bernard Church

It is also possible that the strange happenings at (inside and out) the church could be caused by the ongoing conflict between the longtime resident Father Thomas Quirk and the young man John Kennedy. Father Quirk passed in 1937 after serving his parish for over 39 nine years passing at the age of 92. His resting place in the cemetery  has a large white sculpture of Calvary with a monolithic gray granite stone slab where his remains rest only feet from the stone marker for John Kennedy.

Monument to Father Thomas A Quirk at St Bernard church

Monument to Father Thomas A Quirk at St Bernard Church

Monsignor Thomas Aquinas Quirk, dead, 15 September 1937, St. Bernard's Catholic Church. Photo: Arch Ellis

Monsignor Thomas Aquinas Quirk, dead, 15 September
1937, St. Bernard’s Catholic Church.
Photo: Arch Ellis. sourced from http://www.orlandostonesoup.blogspot.com

Locals believe that Monsignor Quirk is the spirit still protecting the church and its Revival Gothic interior. The Monsignor’s ghost will not allow anyone who enters the church to remove anything that belongs to his church. The story goes that nothing from hymnals to bibles can be removed from the church by anyone who is not approved by the watchful ghost. Many stories state that if a person attempts to remove the altar bible from the church the book gains weight as the uninvited guest  progresses down the isle of the church. Finally the book becomes to heavy to carry and drops to the floor where it is impossible to moved.In the last few years the care takers of the church have also added the watchful eyes of security cameras to prevent unwanted intruders from entering the church. The Church is officially closed now days, no services are regularly held, but the church remains part of Catholic life in Lewis County. Some summers the church is open when they choose to have home-coming events and weddings at the remote location.

I did not need to see the inside of the church this day. All I needed was to see the headstone of John Kennedy and say a little prayer for him. I hope that his eternal struggle is over and that one day he would find some kind of peace in the cemetery way up at Loveberry Ridge.

Photo enhancement of front gate at St Bernard Church

Photo enhancement of front gate at St Bernard Church by Jolynn Powers

 

 

Categories: Cemetaries, Church, ghost stories, Halloween, historic locations, nostalgic, rural life, traveling, West Virginia, Weston | Tags: , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Helvetia, a Swiss Village Hidden in the West Virginia Hills

A slow, tree-lined mountain road is the only way in or out of Helvetia,West Virginia. Where in the 1860’s a strong and talented group of Swiss and German settlers founded a new community within the isolated mountains of Randolph, County. To visit Helvetia today is to step back in time, to a place where culture and traditions remain very much the same as they were in the 1800’s. It is a place to sample the food, music and dancing that has been lost in the world of the internet and interstates. My love of this community and the ones that surround it started when Tom and I were first married and we would take day fishing trips to these mountains for some rest and relaxation. It was so refreshing to eat home cooked food and buy fresh honey in the country store that I just could not stop myself from wanting to spend time with the people here.

Main street of Helvetia Wv

Main street of Helvetia, WV

Helvetia is home to about 100 full-time residents and has one historic restaurant, a country store with a post office, a dance hall, community building, library and a church. Surrounded by farms, mountains and other tiny communities it is the center of all the events that residents and visitors enjoy. The annual “Helvetia Community Fair” is just one of several festive events that are held in this village year round. Most of people at these events are the descendants of the settlers and their families who work hard to keep these European traditions alive.

The Helvetia Community Fair includes a small  parade, crafters, live music, Alpine Horn Blowers, Swiss Dancers, Swiss Flag Throwers (Fahnenschwingen), a 10 k mountain run with a 2 mile walk, Archery Shoot and great food. The( Kultur Huas) a Post office/small store/ mask museum is open, the library has a book sale and the Honey Haus and Cheese Haus are open to visitors. The Hutte Haus Swiss Restaurant is open and serving the most wonderful Swiss/German food in the State. This is a festival for the whole family who want to know more about the Alpine life of the settlers and eat some of their wonderful food.

While visiting the fair we made sure the Christopher was able to see the parade as it traveled down main street.

 

Helvetia Children leading in the parade

Helvetia Children leading in the parade

Christopher getting candy from Mrs. West Virginia

Christopher getting candy from Mrs. West Virginia

Swiss family on float

Swiss family on float

Live blue grass music during Helvetia community parade

Live blue grass music during Helvetia community parade

After the 4 floats and a fire truck pass us we eat our afternoon meal at the Hutte Haus Swiss Restaurant on main street. It is a one of a kind restaurant voted one of the top 10 best restaurants in West Virginia. The house is over 150 years old and maintains both the interior  and exterior in historic style. The house has passed through a few hands but one ever wanted to lose the history or feel of the house even with it being a restaurant.

Hutte Haus Swiss Restraunt, Helvetia, WV

Hutte Haus Swiss Restaurant, Helvetia, WV

The house has many small rooms with tables and other furniture that are from many of the families in the community. Some are gifts as people updated, some sold to the current owners as families moved away and other pieces belonged to the first owners of the house.

Largest of the dinning rooms at the Hutte Haus restaurant

Largest of the dinning rooms at the Hutte Haus restaurant

Tom and Christopher Powers looking over wall decor at the Hutte Haus Swiss restraunt, Helvetia WV

Tom and Christopher Powers looking over wall decor at the Hutte Haus Swiss restaurant, Helvetia WV

 

Wood stove used to heat our dinning room at the Hutte House Swiss Restraunt

Wood stove used to heat our dinning room at the Hutte Haus Swiss Restaurant

Front dinning room at the Hutte Haus Swiss Restaurant, Helvetia, WV

Front dinning room at the Hutte Haus Swiss Restaurant, Helvetia, WV

Front Porch of the Hutte Swiss Restaurant , Helvetia, WV

Front Porch of the Hutte  Haus Swiss Restaurant , Helvetia, WV

The food is traditional Swiss German fair, with things like brats,  sauerkraut and Swiss cheese soup on the menu every day. Then during the festivals they serve the sample platter to everyone. This is includes hand-made sausage, white bratwurst, brazed chicken, potatoes, home-made sauerkraut and swiss cheese with home-made peach cobbler and fresh whipped cream for desert. It is a feast for the eyes and the stomach.I can can not say I have had a better meal any where that I have traveled or lived.

As our meal ended the rain started and  we walked the main street to the only intersection in town  and turned to see the community hall enveloped with people. The entertainment was thoughtfully moved in doors for the rest of the day and we found our benches and seats inside the wooden hall. In the hall we watched villagers perform the Alpine Horns, singers in costume sing traditional folk songs and young children perform Swiss/German dances that Tom and I remember from when we lived in Germany . The best, saved for last, was watching two young men swing the Switzerland flags to the Alpine Horns.

Young Swiss folk dancers

Young Swiss folk dancers

Swiss community singers

Swiss community singers

This is a short clip of what the Alpine horns sound like and what Flag Swinging is. I found them hypothetical when preformed together.

 

When the performances are over and the crowds slowly file back to the parked cars, Tom and I stop at the Kultur Haus / museum/ Post office. It is the place to get your souvenir tee shirts and post cards, honey candy and a cold pop, but I visit for a different reason. I come for the museum portion of the store. The museum is a loose collection of hand-made masks that  local village members hand make for the Fasnacht Celebration every spring. Some get donated to the shop and placed on display and show off the talent and strange and wonderful paper mache skills of the creators. Fasnacht is held around the first week of February and is the traditional celebration of the end of winter. It is much like a combination of Halloween and Mardi Gras and a Druid Ceremony rolled into one. The village people who attend, dress in home-made costumes, have a community dance with buffet dinner and live music. Then at around midnight the leaders of the community cut an effigy of old man winter down ( a straw stuffed scare crow with pine bows and a rubber mask face)  from the rafters of the dance hall carry him out in the nearby field and set him a blaze. The bonfire roars for an hour or two where the spirit of winter is free from the land. The night ends around 1 am with the start of spring. Some of the wonderful masks from these costumes are on display year round for everyone to enjoy it the Kultur Haus on Main Street.

Drunken Sailor and Zodiac Lincoln with Rams head masks Helvetia WV

Drunken Sailor and Zodiac Lincoln with Rams head masks Helvetia WV

Sun and China dog masks from Helvetia WV

Sun and China dog masks from Helvetia WV

Winter Frost Mask Helvetia West Virginia

Winter Frost Mask Helvetia West Virginia

 

more masks

more masks

Kultur Haus/Post Office/Museum

Kultur Haus/Post Office/Museum

Some of the other wonderful places we visited on the trip are the Honey Haus and Cheese Haus. They are not in operation any more but the structures are wonderful to look at and during this festivals are usually open for visitors. This year the Honey Haus had many hand-made honey products for sale and the Cheese Haus had samples of cheeses made and used in the area.

Honey Haus Helvetia, WV

Honey Haus Helvetia, WV

Cheese Haus Helvetia, WV

Cheese Haus Helvetia, WV

Street Sing Helvetia WV

Street Sing Helvetia WV

So with the rain trying to pour down again we headed to car with a 1/4 of a wheel of Swiss cheese, full hearts and tummies. The day seemed short although we had spent 6 hours at the fair. I was glad to get in the warm and dry of my car, but I didn’t want to leave.I  loved my time here and could have just stayed and worked in the warmth of the kitchen at the Hutte Haus or collected the mail in the Museum…I guess I will just have to come back as often as I can so that I will understand even more about why after 155 years people never really leave this place but always come back.

Swiss family crests flying over main street in the rain

Swiss family crests flying over main street in the rain

 

Categories: Appalachian Mountains, Fairs and Festivals, family fun, Halloween, Helvetia West Virginia, history, rural life, Swiss culture, Upshure County | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

West Virginia “Mountain Time” Life Style

A fellow blogger,  Dan Wall at Northeirthanthou.com  and his Alaska blog, has gotten me thinking that maybe I have become a true native of West Virginia if only for the fact that I have fallen deeply line with what he calls “Native Time”. He recently brought up the topic in a post about how the native people of Alaska have a slower, less formal passage of time. I have had this same experience when I moved to West Virginia. I lived on Boulder/Denver time and was always on the look out for some thing different and exciting to do. I was rushing from work to the next party or shopping trip or concert. Then I moved and experienced  what I will call “Mountain Time” I know there are other places all over the country that fall into this “Mountain Time” description. It seems that here in the “Mountain State” the feeling does not end when you head to town.

New River Gorge Bridge fall folage 2002

New River Gorge Bridge fall foliage 2002

Things here just make you slow down. I think much like other mountain communities is starts with the terrain and lack of basic services. You must understand that when I moved here in the early 1992 I had neighbors who did not have in door pluming. My husband did not have cell service while driving major interstate highways. We lived with out power for two weeks almost every winter and no one really complained or ran to town looking for a hotel. We drank well water and melted snow for washing dishes when the pump went out. These living conditions are typical for thousands and thousands of people who live in the rural areas of our state. When you live out of cell service and you internet is still dial-up in 2015. You just live to far from town to not live slower.When getting out of your driveway in winter takes two or three days, you are on “Mountain Time”.

The people of West Virginia  have learned by living in this rough environment that just a simple task can become a monumental challenge. For example, my experience with the BarnWood Builders lost the production company money. In the end, the barn wood that I now have at my house was to hard to truck out of the hollow where the barn sat. The producers tried in vain to hire a tractor-trailer to haul the wood out and not a single company would take a truck with in 8 miles of the barn. There was no where a truck that size could turn around, there was no place to park a truck unless blocking the gravel road.

Kenchelo road north of Jane Lew barn

Kenchelo road north of Jane Lew barn

So unless the wood got sold to, or given to, families like mine who have pick up trucks and strong backs, the wood was out of reach. In the end the majority of the wood from the barn burned on site, it was just too much work getting it out.  It just takes more time to do everything when you are living in terrain like this. Nothing is flat, everything grows some kind of poisons vine or is topped with a huge tree. The creeks flood and rivers are too deep to drive through.

Sunrays and Steamy fog of the West Fork River Weston, West Virginia

Sunrays and Steamy fog of the West Fork River Weston, West Virginia

I also think that part of  “Mountain Time” is that people who generally live a hunter/ gather/ agrarian life styles have a broader picture of time. They look at their  lives as part of the a seasonal plan rather than a monthly or day-to-day plan. When you are look at how crops are grow…(really think about how slow plants grow) your mind is not focused on today or tomorrow but what will happen in three weeks. If you are a hunter or trapper it could take months to harvests your game and you are look forward in 3 month jumps of time. Then when the work needs done you still have to fallow what the seasons allow you to do. It is a system that works very in tune with the weather and seasons. In the heat of an August day you would never expect a West Virginia farmer to attend an afternoon meeting… He is busy getting his hay or corn in. He will work his fields until 7 or 8 at night. You would never expect my husband home for a mid day meal during deer season. He has spent hours hiking into his favorite hunting spot and spent hours planing and tracking a buck. If I am lucky he will be home about an hour after dark around 6, if not later if a nice buck needs dragged home. I am never surprised any more when school is cancelled because of rain. I have had feet of water in my barns and driven through water that ran on the floor boards of our truck just to make sure my family and farm was safe.Tom and I have given aide to ATV riders who crash into trees or rolled over in the woods. Making a short horse trimming trip into an afternoon adventure as we waited for emergency responders to arrive for total strangers. It is all part of the experience and it all takes time… and usually it is not about the clock but being in the moment.

Twisted grape vine hanging in tree. Webster County, West Virginia

Twisted grape-vine hanging in tree. Webster County, West Virginia

So, if you are lucky to live on “Mountain Time” you will see Tom and I up at 4:30 tomorrow morning dressing for a morning of turkey hunting. We will then head home around 1 to a midday meal that we share once a week with my older sons family.Then if the weather allows we will be tiling and planting the garden until about 3 pm.Then naps and up again for dinner and tile work until 10 pm.This all depends on the turkey tomorrow… so who knows if my schedule will work out at all and if I will even be on time for any of it because I live on “Mountain Time”.

Tom and Christopher with2013 years first wild turkey

Tom and Christopher with2013 years first wild turkey

 

Categories: back woods, Barnwood Builders, Country life, deer hunting, Hardwood forest, Hunting, rural life, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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