Near the border between Summers and Monroe Counties in West Virginia, sits the village of Forest Hill and Wake Robin Gallery. The gallery is a pottery shop which sits next to a church where two future Presidents of the United States camped during the Civil War. It doesn’t appear that much has changed in this small mountain community.
On December 3rd the Wake Robin Gallery is having an open house from 10 to 4 along with demonstrations, refreshments, live music and door prizes.
I remember my first visit to Forest Hill and Wake Robin Gallery. It seemed to be the perfect store in perfect community. It’s the kind of place a traveler through the state calls a gem. The gallery appears to be in an old store or post office, which lends to its charm. Upon entering you discover a delightful array of treasures which seem to sparkle from the natural light and the display is a reflection of the artist who created it.
Marcia Springston is a kind, generous and talented potter, who also happens to have been blind from birth. Biblical stories of blind potters come to mind as this gentle woman greets her customers whom she always seems to happy to see.
Marcia recently created her own website which shows off some of her treasures. You may want to go to www.WakeRobinGallery.com and discover some of those treasures for yourself.
If you’re planning on coming by to enjoy this great event and meet this talented artist, you can find other things to do while in Forest Hill and Summers County by going to www.Hinton.WVyourWay.com and searching all the things you’re interested in under our “Tourism” heading. Be sure to narrow your search to Summers County, or you may search everything in Forest Hill or Summers County by clicking the “Select All” button before narrowing your search to the specific location.
You can find even more events on the www.Hinton.WVyourWay.com Event page.
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.
A trip to Sandstone falls is more than simply watching water cascade over a rock, because this waterfall has an island below it with a boardwalk and plenty of places where a person can wander over the island and climb around the falls. Also, a trip to the falls takes you through Hinton, which affords places to stop and get a bite to eat with spectacular views of the New River. The drive to the falls from I-64 is half the fun.
We took exit #139 and turned down Route 20 heading toward Hinton. Just after you pass the store across the railroad tracks on the right, be sure to look to your left as you cross the bridge which spans a creek, whose name I don’t remember, to see a towering cliff carved from the side of the hill. Shortly thereafter, you will wind up the mountain which twists its way toward the town of Hinton 12 miles away. Don’t worry, the road doesn’t snake through the mountain the entire way.
There are places to pull off and view the river, and even the falls, along the way. I encourage you to stop to view the falls because it will heighten your anticipation of when you can get up close and personal with them.
When you reach Hinton, you could stay at the Guest House on Courthouse Square (Lodging > Bed & Breakfast, Inn and Suites), or choose from restaurants like Kirk’s, or the Dairy Queen, where you can sit and enjoy a spectacular view of the New River as you enjoy your meal. Kirk’s has an open patio so you can enjoy the breeze and lean over and watch the huge catfish begging like puppies – well, almost. If you prefer to eat inside and still have a great view of the river, Dairy Queen is the place to go. To visit their listings go to WVyourWay and click the heading “Restaurants.” Then scroll down and click on the keywords, “Breakfast All Day, Desserts, Family, Fast Food, Homestyle Cooking, Motels or Wireless Internet.” To get directions, simply add them to your itinerary and they will be provided.
We then drove down to the falls using the road on the west bank of the river, since it’s the only way to reach the falls. As we strolled along the boardwalk and watched fisherman wade to the edge of the pools of cool water, the area reminded us of a scene from “Swiss Family Robinson.” More accurately, the “Swiss Family Robinson” attraction at Disney World, but I digress.
Since there were several places to get off the boardwalk, I took a hike over the rocks to see if I could get closer to the falls on the eastern side of the river, which appeared to be bigger, and thus, more spectacular. However, I discovered other streams of rushing water that seemed to overflow the rocks, which made passage a bit more difficult than I had initially anticipated. That’s when I prudently decided the adventure part was over and settled into the appreication part of the visit.
We met other couples, and several pets, as we walked the loop around the island. Some were simply enjoying being outdoors on a pretty day, while others were studying the tiny plant life which was just starting to bloom.
If you’re looking for a nice day trip to enjoy a day, it will be hard to beat Sandstone Falls, which just may be West Virginia’s finest!
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.