For years as I drove along Route 3 from Alderson to Hinton through Talcott, I would pass the statue of John Henry located in a turn as I drove over the mountain through which men had dug the railroad tunnel, and in which the legend of John Henry was born. Recently, as I drove through the area, I noticed an empty pedestal where the statue had once been. On my way back through I stopped to see his new home at the entrance of the actual tunnel.
The fun thing was that I chanced to drive along the railroad tracks just as a train was traveling by at 27 miles an hour. Yes, I raced the train and won! Which was no small feat considering the condition of the road and the many waterholes on the way to the park. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an easy drive, but not when you’re trying not to splash water on your vehicle after a recent rain.
The park was a nice one, with a picnic shelter, stage, walking trail and a small train for kids to play on. Also, it had the John Henry statue standing very near to the entrance of the tunnel where he battled a steam engine, and died. As a kid I remember reading about the legend and there are plenty of versions of the song to be found. Below is one such version. If you’d like to see more versions they can be found at the this website.
1.Some say he’s from Georgia,
Some say he’s from Alabam,
But it’s wrote on the rock at the Big Ben Tunnel,
That he’s an East Virginia Man,
That he’s an East Virginia man.
2.John Henry was a steel drivin’ man,
He died with a hammah in his han’,
Oh, come along boys and line the track
For John Henry ain’t never comin’ back,
For John Henry ain’t never comin’ back.
3.John Henry he could hammah,
He could whistle, he could sing,
He went to the mountain early in the mornin’
To hear his hammah ring,
To hear his hammah ring.
4.John Henry went to the section boss,
Says the section boss what kin you do?
Says I can line a track, I kin histe a jack,
I kin pick and shovel too,
I kin pick and shovel too.
5.John Henry told the cap’n,
When you go to town,
Buy me a nine pound hammah
An’ I’ll drive this steel drill down,
An’ I’ll drive this steel drill down.
6.Cap’n said to John Henry,
You’ve got a willin’ mind.
But you just well lay yoh hammah down,
You’ll nevah beat this drill of mine,
You’ll nevah beat this drill of mine.
7.John Henry went to the tunnel
And they put him in lead to drive,
The rock was so tall and John Henry so small
That he laid down his hammah and he cried,
That he laid down his hammah and he cried.
8.The steam drill was on the right han’ side,
John Henry was on the left,
Says before I let this steam drill beat me down,
I’ll hammah myself to death,
I’ll hammah myself to death.
9.Oh the cap’n said to John Henry,
I bleeve this mountain’s sinkin’ in.
John Henry said to the cap’n, Oh my!
Tain’t nothin’ but my hammah suckin’ wind,
Tain’t nothin’ but my hammah suckin’ wind.
10.John Henry had a cute liddle wife,
And her name was Julie Ann,
And she walk down the track and nevah look back,
Goin’ to see her brave steel drivin’ man,
Goin’ to see her brave steel drivin’ man.
11.John Henry had a pretty liddle wife,
She come all dressed in blue.
And the last words she said to him,
John Henry I been true to you,
John Henry I been true to you.
12.John Henry was on the mountain,
The mountain was so high,
He called to his pretty liddle wife,
Said Ah kin almos’ touch the sky,
Said Ah kin almos’ touch the sky.
13.Who gonna shoe yoh pretty liddle feet,
Who gonna glove yoh han’,
Who gonna kiss yoh rosy cheeks,
An’ who gonna be yoh man,
An’ who gonna be yoh man?
14.Papa gonna shoe my pretty liddle feet,
Mama gonna glove my han’,
Sistah gonna kiss my rosy cheeks,
An’ I ain’t gonna have no man,
An’ I ain’t gonna have no man.
15.Then John Henry told huh,
Don’t you weep an’ moan,
I got ten thousand dollars in the First National Bank,
I saved it to buy you a home,
I saved it to buy you a home.
16.John Henry took his liddle boy,
Sit him on his knee,
Said that Big Ben Tunnel
Gonna be the death of me,
Gonna be the death of me.
17.John Henry took that liddle boy,
Helt him in the pahm of his han’,
And the last words he said to that chile was,
I want you to be a steel drivin’ man,
I want you to be a steel drivin’ man.
18.John Henry ast that liddle boy,
Now what are you gonna be?
Says if I live and nothin’ happen,
A steel drivin’ man I’ll be,
A steel drivin’ man I’ll be.
19.Then John Henry he did hammah,
He did make his hammah soun’,
Says now one more lick fore quittin’ time,
An’ I’ll beat this steam drill down,
An’ I’ll beat this steam drill down.
20.The hammah that John Henry swung,
It weighed over nine poun’,
He broke a rib in his left han’ side,
And his intrels fell on the groun’,
And his intrels fell on the groun’.
21.All the women in the West
That heard of John Henry’s death,
Stood in the rain, flagged the east bound train,
Goin’ where John Henry dropped dead,
Goin’ where John Henry dropped dead.
22.John Henry’s liddle mother
Was all dressed in red,
She jumped in bed, covered up her head,
Said I didn’t know my boy was dead,
Said I didn’t know my boy was dead.
23.They took John Henry to the White House,
And buried him in the san’,
And every locomotive come roarin’ by,
Says there lays that steel drivin’ man.
In many states mowing your lawn means jumping on the riding lawn mower, taking a few turns around the yard, trimming, then sauntering back in the house as the Lord of your domain. However, West Virginia can be a bit different when it comes to mowing a lawn. We have an added dimension here called goats. I’ve considered buying a couple goats and a moveable fence myself. You see, I have parts of my lawn which are very steep. Too steep, in fact, for the riding lawn mower. Also too steep for a push mower or me in a pair of boots with worn and slick soles. As a matter of a fact, I recently searched http://www.WVyourWay.com for a place to buy some boots that could stick to the side of a cliff. I clicked on “Businesses,” then scrolled down to the sub-heading “Clothing” and clicked on it so the expanded menu would drop down. I then clicked on boots, hit the search button below the map and found two businesses in Lewisburg that sold them. When buying a pair, I asked the clerk if they would stick to the sides of a cliff. Low and behold, they actually do! It made trimming my lawn a whole lot easier.
As I’d mow my lawn, I’d wonder if there was anyone in West Virginia that had a steeper lawn than mine to mow. That’s when I drove through a section of McDowell County and discovered two lawns that made mine look like a beach. I seriously doubt if even goats would work on those lawns! I took some photos, but to be honest, I don’t think the pictures reveal just how steep those lawns are. Maybe one of the lawn mower companies could hold a contest of the steepest lawns in the country. If so, I’m sure these lawns in McDowell County would take a prize!
If you have photos of a lawn you think is too steep for goats, feel free to send some and we’ll see if we can find steeper lawns.
Driving across West Virginia I often come across interesting, and sometimes odd things that attract curious attention. One such occurrence recently happened to me while driving along Rt. 20 from Buckhannon to Clarksburg. A part of that road goes through the small community of Peck’s Mill in Barbour County. Years ago there was an old store located in the community and as far as I could tell that was the only reason the speed limit actually dropped along this short stretch of highway. Traveling north, just after passing where the old store used to be, the driver negotiates a moderate turn and then passes over a small bridge before hitting a long straight stretch that I was always excited to see so I could pass whatever slow-poke who was in front of me at the time. On this day, however, as I hit the straight-a-way, cars were stopped for no apparent reason. I hadn’t seen a construction sign and so I had no idea why vehicles were just sitting there.
That is, until I saw a movement in the distance at the other end of the road. A man had stopped traffic and was looking in the same direction. I couldn’t make out the dark movement ahead in the distance, but it seemed to slowly grow and I could tell something large, black and apparently rumbling, was coming my way. As this dark mass got closer I laughed to see a herd of cows being driven by a cowboy driving a pickup truck. It was disappointing not to see a horse, but then, one doesn’t see a cattle drive in West Virginia every day. I took some pictures of the curious event and felt nostalgic for days of yesteryear when this wouldn’t have been such an uncommon sight.
To find some things in this area, go to www.WVyourWay.com and click on the heading of your choice. Scroll down and check as many keywords as interest you, narrow your search to either the Mountain Lakes region or Mountaineer Country on the map, then hit the search button just below the map. Everything you’re interested in that is registered with WVyourWay will come up complete with all contact information. Add to itinerary to get written directions on how to get to these places, then visit and enjoy. One last thing, don’t forget to mention WVyourWay as the way you discovered their business.
Get ready for the 19th annual Derby Day Celebration in Lewisburg, WV! Gateway Industries, of Ronceverte, created and sponsors the “Derby Day Run for the Roses” fund raiser each year. This year’s event will be held on Saturday, May the 4th, from 3:30 until 7:30 PM at the West Virginia State Fairgrounds. Each year an average of 500 participants attend the event that models Derby Day as if everyone were actually in Louisville, Kentucky. Besides having fun and giving ladies a good reason to wear decorated hats, the event is designed to help raise money for a very worthwhile organization in Gateway Industries.
Many local businesses, as well as the event attendees, support Gateway’s efforts to provide employment, training and services to individuals with disabilities. Gateway offers assembly, packaging, warehousing and distribution to meet custom sub-contracting needs. To learn more about this worthwhile organization go www.WVyourWay.com and click on the “Business” heading. Scroll down and click on the sub-heading “Business Services” and then check the boxes next to the keywords “Assembly, Distribution, or Warehousing.” You may also scroll down further to the sub-heading “Industry” and either check that box, or click on the word and check the keyword “Industrial Services.”
At Derby Day you will find great food, fun music, a spectacular silent auction and a chance to win some great prizes. You’ll enjoy watching the Kentucky Derby on large screen televisions with a lot of fine folks. Keep in mind that you’ll have a great time and as well a memorable experience. Last but not least, you’ll be helping a very good organization – “Gateway Industries.”
By Sherry McCormick-Hawkins
I am the proud Mother of a spoiled Chihuahua that I rescued from a Virginia animal shelter in late 2010. “Little Bit” is the first dog I ever owned – or does he own me? Either way, I’m so glad that I took that first step and finally adopted a dog. He has given me a lot of love and laughs over the past 2 years. I also have a lovebird named “Squeak” that I received as a birthday present in 1999. His beautiful feathers and intelligence never fail to amaze me.
We here at WVyourWay love animals and want to see them go to good homes. On our Pinterest page we post pictures of adoptable animals in West Virginia. It is our hope that more and more cats and dogs will find forever families. If you live in the Greenbrier Valley of West Virginia consider contacting the Greenbrier Humane Society [Businesses - Animal Care > Humane Society]. They have a wide variety of cats, dogs, puppies and kittens. They also have several adopt-a-thons throughout the year where people find wonderful pets. If you know of other animal shelters in the state, ask them to register with us so people can find them too.
If you decide to adopt a pet they will need additional care. “Seneca Trail Animal Hospital” [Businesses - Animal Care > Animal Hospital > Boarding > Veterinarians] in Lewisburg has a friendly staff and they can help your companion animal with their medical, dental and surgical needs. They even offer boarding services as well as emergency care. If you are visiting in our beautiful area and need care for your pet they will do their best to fit you into their schedule.
Are you looking for a more exotic pet such as a bird, ferret, fish, snake or something else? “Susan’s World of Pets and Grooming” [Businesses - Animal Care > Pet Stores] has a large selection of wonderful animals, birds and reptiles. They are conveniently located in Fairlea. In addition to all of the pets they also carry a large supply of pet products and they offer expert pet grooming to make your dog look his best!
Check out these businesses on www.WVyourWay.com. Following the name of each business above in bold you see the Heading – Sub-heading > Keyword. Click on the heading “Businesses”, then scroll down to the sub-heading “Animal Care.” Click on the sub-heading “Animal Care” and the keywords will then drop down. Click on whichever keyword you’re interested in, then choose your region and hit the “Search” button below the map.
Look on the map and see if you can find the town of Edgarton, West Virginia. Surely there must be one, since there’s an Edgarton Inn Bed & Breakfast. I Googled the town, and found out that there’s a town in Mingo County named Delorme that is also known as Edgarton, but there are no B&B’s there. So where in the world is the Edgarton Inn Bed & Breakfast?
As you might have guessed, the name was changed sometime back. You see, the Greenbrier River flows through this town and it’s in Greenbrier County. I guess they could have called the town Greenbrier, but then that wouldn’t have been very original. I’ve heard a few different stories about the original name for the town from Edgar’s Ford to St. Lawrence Ford. One story has it that Edgar’s Ford was named after Thomas Edgar who built his house near the banks of the Greenbrier and then sold off lots that started the community. When it came time to incorporate the town, it was time to give it a more colorful name. So some say that was when Mrs. Edgar put a twist of French to the name Greenbrier and came up with Ronceverte, which in French means bramble green, or green brier.
Greenbrier County and Lewisburg, the county seat, is one of the more popular tourist destinations in West Virginia, and only five miles south of Lewisburg on US 219 is the town of Ronceverte. In honor of the founder of Ronceverte, Kathy King, the owner of the Edgarton Inn Bed & Breakfast, named the Inn located in his original house built-in 1810, after Thomas Edgarton.
The house is beautiful and chucked full of history and scenes from days gone by in Greenbrier County. It is spacious with a common dining area and sitting room downstairs that is a great place to just sit and relax. Upstairs there are four bedrooms each with its own bathroom.
The Blue Ridge Suite is part of the original 1810 house that was built with timbers; then brown sand from the Greenbrier River and horse hair were mixed into plaster which is still in place under the old wallpaper coverings. The wooden floors are original and to stand on them is to go back 200 years in history.
The Greenbrier Room is also located in a section of the original house built-in 1810. The Bay windows were added when Col. Best remodeled the house after the Civil War. If you notice, the house faces the river, as most houses built-in the early 1800’s did.
The Renaissance Suite contains the Victorian tower, which features the Queen Anne architecture popular in this historic period. If you look at the photos that accompany this article, you will see just how spacious and beautiful these rooms are.
Take a step back in time, and at the same time, enjoy the present while staying in the Edgarton Inn. Kathy, the owner is a great host and you will find the town, now named Ronceverte, to be populated by friendly people who help make your stay enjoyable. Come prepared to enjoy your stay in the Inn while you discover all the attractions and fun shopping experiences Greenbrier County has to offer.
By Guest Blogger: Sherry McCormick-Hawkins
Recently I had the privilege of spending a day in Pineville. It is a small West Virginia town with a lot of things to offer in regards to lodging, food and shops.
First, Bill and I checked into our room at “Trails Lodging.” We decided to “splurge” and we got a great room with our own private Jacuzzi! The room was terrific and had just been remodeled. The bathroom was large and spotless. We enjoyed sitting in the Jacuzzi and watching old movies! The cost was well under $100 and definitely a bargain. The staff is friendly and the lobby and atmosphere are inviting. On top of that they are located right beside the fascinating “Pinnacle Rock” and across the street from the Wyoming County Courthouse.
I felt like I was stepping back in time as we ventured out after checking into the room. The downtown area is small, but exciting. Our first stop was “Pat’s Fashions”. After looking around a few minutes I urged Bill to head out because I knew that I would be “busy” for quite a while. He gladly complied once he realized how large the store was and he knows I love to “look around.” I was amazed at the HUGE assortment of formal dresses as well as fashionable clothing ranging from jeans to dress clothes. They also have a large variety of jewelry, purses, shoes and other things that women can’t live without. I bought myself a really neat shirt while I was browsing around. The ladies working there were all very friendly and eager to help me find what I needed. In fact, one of them owns a new lodging place herself named “Mimmies Place” which sounded like the perfect place for ATV people, business people and travelers. It is out in the country and has all of the amenities of home. I’ll be back at “Pat’s Fashions” soon.
Once I left Pat’s I crossed the street and headed to “The Blossom Bucket.” This is a really neat store. First, it is a florist where you can get exactly what you need for weddings, funerals, and anything else. They also offer fruit baskets, balloon and candy bouquets, silk flowers and other items. I love how the store is decorated! You can buy curtains, bedspreads and other home décor. They have candles, primitives and many other items available for sale. Again, just like every place else in Pineville I was greeted with a smile and a willingness to help me find what I needed.
That night we ate at the “Cornerstone Grill” which is located in “Trails Lodging”. I love the décor of the place and they have a great menu with a wide variety of items. I especially enjoyed the steak salad! It was so good that we ate there again a few days later on our way to McDowell County! Their prices are budget friendly too and that is always good.
After leaving Pineville I told Bill that I definitely want to come back again soon and stay overnight. The folks are friendly, the area is beautiful and the atmosphere is perfect for relaxing. The perfect place to come and leave your cares behind!
Guest Blogger: Sherry McCormick-Hawkins
Being relatively new to West Virginia and the Greenbrier Valley I have taken some time to explore some of the businesses here.
One of my favorite places is a shop in downtown Lewisburg is called the “Plaid Eagle.” First off, the moment I walk into the store I am greeted and feel welcomed! This is a friendly place! The owner, Karen McClung, definitely loves her store and enjoys seeing people come in and browse. Also, she is readily available to talk to you about her large assortment of antiques and is happy to answer any questions.
The store makes me “feel young again” when I check out the toy section. Wow! There are several toys there that I used to play with as a child. I also have a small collection of antique dolls so I enjoy looking at the dolls that are available for sale.
Another neat aspect that brings back memories for me is the large assortment of glassware and silver. It definitely brings back memories of my grandmother’s house in Central Pennsylvania where I loved to visit. The Depression glass is my favorite!
The variety of vintage clothing and quilts in the store are amazing too. If you are into those types of items I highly recommend Plaid Eagle to find what you’re looking for!
Another aspect that is unusual is the large collection of medical items and old medicine bottles. This would be a perfect place for the collector of these types of items.
My husband is a collector of old books and has an extensive library. Plaid Eagle has a large collection of antique books available for sale and a large amount of them are about West Virginia and the history of the state. Hmmm…this might just be the place to shop for his Christmas present.
Karen is a specialist when it comes to antiques. She has been in the business for over 25 years. Not only does she have her store she also does Estate Sales. She can do an Estate Sale of contemporary items as well as antiques. She had a large sale recently which featured fine, contemporary items that was quite successful. If an estate sale is something that you have been contemplating please contact her about it.
To find Plaid Eagle Antiques and similar stores go to www.WVyourWay.com and click on the Tourism heading. Scroll down and select the keywords: Antiques, Books, Collectibles, Primitives, Prints, Quilts and Vintage Clothing. Then scroll down to the map and click on “The New River/Greenbrier Valley” region. Just below the map is the “search” button. Click on the search button and in moments everything you are interested in, and nothing you are not interested in, will come up. If you want directions to any of the places that are displayed, simply click on “Add to Itinerary” and you will be able to see the places you added separately and see the written out directions. So go search and have fun!
In the 1970’s, just as UCLA was finishing up their run of seven consecutive NCAA Basketball titles, Northfork High School in McDowell County, West Virgina was beginning its run of eight straight state championships. The UCLA coach, John Wooden, is called the Wizard of Westwood due to the success of his teams which were rich in talent that he recruited from across the nation. The Northfork High School coach, Jennings Boyd, couldn’t recruit his talent, he had to develop it!
As a kid growing up in Roane County during the early 70’s, I knew about Northfork High School and I always wondered what made the place so special. I had always wanted to visit the town and find out about its coach so I could learn for myself what it was that set Jennings Boyd apart. Recently, for the first time, I was able to visit the small coal mining town in McDowell County and I discovered the secret that made Coach Boyd a great basketball coach.
I had been wondering a long time about that small town tucked away in the mountains of southern West Virginia and their basketball coach Jennings Boyd. Was it his work ethic and tough basketball practices, or perhaps his motivational skills and superior strategy that led to his tremendous success?
Those were the questions on my mind when I visited Northfork while gathering information for www.WVyourWay.com. While speaking to one of the residents of the town, I asked her about that time period and discovered she was a cheerleader at the school for four of those eight magical years. Since she knew the town and the man, I determined I would ask her for some insight from those years. However, as I awaited an opportunity to ask, she told me a story that, although she was unaware of it, revealed the secret to the success of Coach Boyd.
It seems that her boyfriend was on the basketball team and she was at his house when Coach Boyd showed up. I was surprised and asked if he visited his players often. She responded, “Oh yes, Coach Boyd was always checking up on his players and one of the things he didn’t want to find was a girl at their house.” I laughed and asked what she did and she looked at me wide-eyed and replied, “I hid in the furnace room behind a pile of coal!”
As I laughed she went on with her story. “I think he knew I was there ’cause he stayed an extra long time and I was miserable from the heat of hiding behind that coal pile. He just wouldn’t leave and I had to stay hidden in that hot room just so he could punish me for being at my boyfriend’s house when I wasn’t supposed to be. By the time he left I was streaked with coal dust, so I just went home.”
It was at that moment that I discovered the secret to Coach Boyd’s success – he cared about his players. Because of that he could get them to work hard in practice and follow his leadership. Today Northfork and McDowell County are behind, but if they come together as a team and follow the leadership of those that care, they too can come out winners. Who knows, maybe the legacy of the Wizard of Northfork can lead to another championship for the people he taught how to win.