West Virginia Your Way

Things to do in West Virginia!

Battleship – USS West Virginia

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.

USS West Virginia from near deck level.

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.

Joshua Brooks, my tour guide dressed in actual WWII uniform.

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May 23, 2012 Posted by | Tourism, Travel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Creature at Lost World Caverns?

Nearly 25 years ago I saw Lost World Caverns on a highway map for West Virginia and decided to stop and check it out.  In the days before the internet all I knew about the place was that a cavern was involved.  Even now, to find the place using an old-fashioned search engine, like Google, you still have to type something about caverns.  Thankfully, www.WVyourWay.com let me find the place without even thinking about caverns or typing anything in.  That way, when I searched for Dinosaurs and Natural History, I was able to find just what I was looking for.

 So off I went and I took a date with me.  We got there early so there wasn’t a crowd to deal with, but the owner suggested we take the tour first since a few busloads of elementary kids was on the way.  My date was from the city, so I knew my chance of scaring her was pretty good.  This was my second date with her, but would I get a third?

 We walked down the tunnel which was a much easier way in than the original entrance, which was a straight drop somewhere around two or three hundred feet.  Actually, you can still see a tiny chain ladder that was used.  I call it tiny ‘cause it appeared less than a foot wide.

 Keep in mind that the temperature drops as you enter the cavern, so bring along a light jacket if you want to keep from shivering.  If I recall, the cavern stays at a cool 55 degrees year ‘round.

 The fact that these tours are self-guided played right into my hands as I thought of what I was going to do to scare my date.  As we walked along the path and viewed the myriad of formations, I came up with an idea.  I wanted to wait until we were deeper into the cavern, though.  One of the good things about Lost World Caverns is that so much is packed into the place that you can pretty much see everything caverns have to offer in one giant room.  It’s almost like someone collected all the different formations and placed them there for safe keeping.

A WV man set a world record by sitting on top of this for way too many days.

 As we reached the lowest depth of the cavern, I said to my date, very matter of a fact, “They say there’s something that lives deeper in these caverns, but I don’t believe it myself.”

 The city girl looked at me wide-eyed and asked, “What are you talking about?!”

 So I told her how there was some kind of creature that was alleged to have been spotted down here several times.  When she said I was just trying to scare her, I simply asked, “Why do you think we’re on a self-guided tour?  They can’t get tour guides to come down here ‘cause the locals know all about it!”

 At that her eyes grew as big as saucers and she inched closer.  My plan was working to perfection.  I had forgotten about the cave bear sign, but when my date saw it, my story gained even more credence when I suggested they had to call it a cave bear since the description of the creature matched nothing else anyone had ever seen.  By this time she wanted me to stay very close to her the rest of the tour.

 Once you leave the cavern take the time to tour the little museum and the expansive gift shop.  If you like dinosaurs, you’ll love seeing the fossils and giant bones.  The gift shop has something for everyone, including fun things for the kids.  You can even do some gem stone mining while you’re there.

 And fella’s, if you want to have a fun date, take your girl to Lost World Caverns.  Not only did I get a third date, but it looks like I just might end up marrying that city girl!

June 13, 2011 Posted by | Tourism | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment