Clint Eastwood had a major hit some years back with a movie called “The Bridges of Madison County.” In the movie he went around taking pictures of the covered bridges of that county and had a romantic interlude with a local housewife played by Meryl Streep.
I had a similar adventure taking photographs of the bridges in Monroe County. Clint and I took pictures of covered bridges in a county named after a President and both counties started with the letter “M.” That’s about as far as the similarities go.
I’m not a professional photographer, which my photos can easily prove. I also failed to have a romantic interlude with any of the local married women. First, I don’t think my wife, who was with me at the time, would have thought it was romantic. Secondly, I don’t look like Clint Eastwood.
Still, the bridges are well-worth seeing and they have interesting stories behind them, which you can read more about on www.MonroeCo.WVyourWay.com. The Laurel Creek Bridge is the smallest remaining covered bridge in West Virginia. The bridge is also still in use, so you can drive across it.
The Indian Creek Covered Bridge was built by two teenagers in the early 1900’s. Pause and let that sink in for a moment. I was a teenager four decades ago and I can’t say that I ever came across any teenagers in all the decades between that could have built a covered bridge. That’s a pretty cool accomplishment. (That’s a little 70’s lingo to prove how old I am.)
Oh, and as a disclaimer, I did not take the photos in this article of the bridges. They look way too nice; therefore, they could not have possibly been taken by me.
So go to www.MonroeCo.WVyourWay.com and click on the “Tourism” heading and then scroll down and check the “Covered Bridges” keyword. At the bottom of the page narrow your search to Monroe County and hit the “Search” button to find the bridges of Monroe County.
There is short term opportunity for this community to acquire the E.I. Terry Co property and preserve an important piece of our town’s history. By creating a non profit organization to purchase this property, preserving the structure, and developing it as an event center for public use, this piece of Peterstown’s history can remain a historic landmark in town.
FYI- The building is about 80 years old. This masonry structure is fundamentally sound. It needs rehabilitation of some basics – plumbing, wiring, heating, restrooms. The rubber roof has been maintained. A light inspection this week showed that the character of the building is still there and rehabilitation can be done.
The owners have agreed to allow two months for us to raise funds to purchase the property.
With positive results from a public meeting on March 10, a non profit is being organized and fund raising efforts have begun. The goal is $85,000 to purchase the property and get insurance.
There is a short time frame to raise this money—by mid April. This is a task, but it can be accomplished with your help!
We have posted a link for Donations on our site and ask that you not only Donate, but you share our page so other will have the opportunity to help.
Phase II-will be renovations of the building which will require lots of labor, materials, etc. and additional funds. We will need volunteers to help in this phase as well as money to make this happen. Once we own the buildings, we can apply for grants and assistance.
Our goal once we obtain these buildings and do the remodel is to develop an event center to provide educational, economic, and cultural experiences and opportunities for everyone in the area.
Please contact us with your questions and suggestions, and of course your pledges of support. firstname.lastname@example.org and visit our website www.peterstownpg.org to keep updated on our progress. Mail donations to PO Box 778 Peterstown, WV 24963
Thank you in advance for your support and donations,
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.
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.
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.
(The following post is courtesy of Taya McCormick, at the time a high school sophmore from Virginia Beach who visited Greenville, WV in 2012. Taya wrote the blog and included a few of the photos you see in the article. We’re reposting the blog on MonroeCo.WVyourWay.com and once again thank Taya, who is now a member of the United States Navy!)
I took a trip to Greenville, West Virginia after finding my interests on MonoreCo.WVyourWay.com, and I absolutely loved it. Everything about it was beautiful. I read the history behind Cooks Old Mill and walked around and took some pictures of it. It’s a very big building and very old.
Right across from the building is a red wood Mill. It is really pretty because there are flowers all around it and its interesting to learn about what happened in our history. Beside the Old Mill building there is a little creek and the water is quite cold. The creek is cold because the water runs from a cave into the creek. I sat down and enjoyed the beautiful view from the picnic table that is under a tree that gives shade. On the other side of the Old Mill is a little building that looks like a house made out of wood. Inside of the little building are two looms that are made out of wood. They were used to make wool. It was interesting to look at the looms because we don’t have them anymore and we have gotten rid of most of them. I also think it is interesting to know that women used to sit there for hours and do it. I liked looking at them because we get to know more about how the world was back when we didn’t have all the technology that we do now.
When I walked around the creek I saw some really pretty flowers that surrounded it. It was nice to look around and see all the wonderful colors of the wild life. I really enjoyed walking around and looking at nature. The thing I enjoyed most was the bridge that covered the creek water. It was beautiful and I could spend the whole day standing there on the bridge. It was so quiet and the sound of the creek was very peaceful.
Beside the bridge there were two porter potties that you can not use but they are there to look at because that’s how it was back then. If you look across the bridge you see a man made waterfall that lets the creek water from the pond into the running creek that runs under the bridge. When you go across the street there is more nature and more of beautiful scenes. I also saw some ducks and little baby ducks. It was a great day and I enjoyed going to the Old Mill. I also went to – and enjoyed the animals that were there. There were some weird kinds of animals that let me take some pictures of them. I also saw a lot of deer which not a big deal because here in West Virginia the state has a lot of deer. I enjoyed driving in the car and looking at the different kind of animals that – have. Now I know why it is named Greenville because it is filled with nature and the beauty of it is nature. I got to see a lot of interesting things when I visited Greenville and I really enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun and I recommend it for everyone.
The movie “Battleship” is a story about a sneak attack of earth by aliens and the role of a battleship in defense of our world. A little over sixty years ago a similar scenario played out in the Pacific at a place called Pearl Harbor. The battleships lined up there stood no chance; however, against the sneak attack by the Empire of Japan. One of those battleships, the USS West Virginia, can be seen today on display in Beckley, WV.
“A battleship in Beckley, WV,” You ask? If you don’t believe me check out the pictures below.
The ship was built by, Jim Toler, the curator for the Raleigh County Veterans Museum [Tourism: History – > History – WWII – > Museums] located on Harper Road in Beckley. Jim sailed the ship, which was built to carry two men, on one voyage and now you can see the ship as she used look. I’d give you some of the dimensions of the ships and tell you how long it took Jim to build the ship. I’d even tell you about some of the household items he used to construct parts of the ship, such as the radar dishes, but then that would take away from the fun of discovery when you see the ship for the first time. Suffice it to say you will be amazed.
The ship is the centerpiece to the museum, but it is far from the only attraction you will see while there. They also have the only surviving door from a German concentration camp. The horrors that took place behind that one door is difficult to imagine. There is a helmet collection, guns, uniforms, knives, and many other fascinating collections of the tools of war. However, most compelling is the personal story’s of those that fought the wars to defend America. Memorial Day is a day we set aside to remember those men and women who contributed to our freedom from the sacrifices they made to serve our country, and the Raleigh County Veterans Museum helps us to remember. The good news is they are open every Wednesday, and Saturday from 1:00 to 6:00 and on Sunday from 1:00 to 5:oo.
To find more information go to www.WVyourWay.com and click on the “Tourism” heading then scroll down and check the keywords, “History, History – WWII and Museums.” Then scroll down to the map and click on the “New River/Greenbrier Valley” and hit the “Search” button just below the map to find everything you’re interested in.
Recently my wife, who has the misfortune not to be from West Virginia, commented on how she has met so many people who have moved back to our state after spending most of their adult life in other states. She told me one of those people had said, “Most people move to Florida when they retire. However, if you’re from West Virginia, you move back to the mountains of your home.”
So what is it about West Virginia that causes people who were raised here to want to come back at the earliest opportunity? What is this bond that the people of West Virginia have with their state? Is it a love of government? God forbid!
When we say we love our state, we don’t mean the government, or any one thing or institution. I’m a fan of the WVU Mountaineers, not because I love the university, but because it represents the state I love.
Which brings me back to the question, why do we come back? I’ve heard people say the mountains get in your blood and there seems to be a comfort in them. Surprisingly, there’s truth in that statement. No matter where you are in the state, you’re between two hills. Your horizon is limited, as well as your focus. Instead of seeing a limitless expanse of land, we’re limited to an area which seems to funnel people together. The mountains serve as a protective barrier between the outside world and our own small communities. Not only do they protect us from the forces of nature like hurricanes and tornadoes, but they seem to hug us with their nearness and the safety they provide.
Therefore, the people here have a strong sense of community and there’s a neighborliness that you don’t usually find elsewhere. There’s a simplicity of life where people aren’t competing to see who can drive the nicer car or live in the bigger home. It’s more important to be a good neighbor than to have wealth. We don’t look down on people who are poor, anymore than we look up to people who are rich.
While all of the above is true, it seems to me that the main reason for this love for our state and the strong sense of bond we fill within these borders is due to the “Cinderella effect.” We are the underdog that has to put up with others making fun of us. People who have never been here more than to just drive through are surprised to discover we have teeth and wear shoes. Some don’t even realize West Virginia is a state! Richmond is not our capitol, Charleston is.
We, as a people, seem to be constantly bashed simply because of where we live by people who have never been here long enough to find out who we really are. So we unite together to defend our people and state. And sometimes when we’re feeling a bit beat down and misunderstood, the mountains hug us and our love is nourished. It is then that we feel sorry for those people who make fun of us and our state, because they cannot understand what it means to truly have pride in your state. We come back because the mountains have helped create a people who share a bond that only we can understand.
What’s better than a scenic drive through the mountains of West Virginia? Thank you for asking! I’ll be happy to answer that little question. The answer: Finding treasures along that beautiful scenic drive. Theres a highway between Hinton and Peterstown (State Route 12) that has two fabulous little treasures along the way. I drove through there last week and stopped in to see Marcia at Wake-Robin Gallery and Emma Jean at Emma Jean’s Country Store. This is a case where the people are just as interesting as their art and store. And that’s saying something, since both are outstanding.
Wake-Robin is a pottery and gift gallery located in Forest Hill, and Emma Jean’s Country Store is a turn of the century country store located in Marie. (One of these days I’ll have to be sure people understand I mean the early 1900’s when I say turn of the century.) The gallery can be found under the Tourism heading and the following keywords: Art – > Gift Shop – > Pottery.
Marcia’s gallery is elegant in its presentation and reminds me of a museum. However, you can buy the pieces in this museum, and they’re worth the money! You see, Marcia is a potter of renown who uses her hands to shape functional pottery. What makes her different is Marica has been blind since birth! I love a quote she has that goes, “My hands remember how the pots grew, and my heart is gratified.” When a person realizes she has only seen her pots with her hands, being gratified takes on a whole new meaning.
While I was there some people came in and bought some gifts. When they paid I was able to observe Marcia as she typed on a brail typewriter, which I had never seen before, and folded her bills a certain way so she would know which denomination they were. The gallery had much more than pottery, though. She had creations by other local artists ranging from jewelry and candles, to iron working and wooden utensils. There were also woven items, some of which are provided by blind students of Berean College.
Emma Jean’s Country Store is exactly that, a real country store that is like going back in time. There are plenty of things to see and buy, or you may just want to talk to Emma Jean. While I was there a few people came in and the talk was of neighbors and people helping each other out. Just what comes to mind when someone thinks of how things are done in the country. Since I was in a country store, I had to buy a bottle of grape Nehi. I mean, what is a visit to a country store without buying something from my childhood?
If you look at the photo that goes with Emma Jean’s listing for her store on www.WVyourWay.com, you may think you are looking at a painting. I know that a lot of people, including myself, thought it was a painting when they first saw it. So, if you like the idea of walking into, not only history, but a painting, you may want to visit her and talk awhile. Oh yeah, and you just might show up the day The History Channel will be filming a story about her store. I know they’re coming, we just don’t when yet. Her store can be found on WVyourWay under the heading Tourism and the following keywords: Antiques – > Collectibles – > Country Store – > Groceries – > Primitives – > Wine Store.
So take a drive down Rt. 12 and stop and see two very nice ladies. The trip is worth it and it’s an experiance you won’t soon be forgetting.