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      10-08-2011, 11:01 AM   #1
Rick F.
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Almost Heaven, West Virginia

As I forced my long-suffering BMW Z4 up a narrow, steep, rutted, rocky dirt path, around switchback corners and with the tops of trees visible next to the guardrail-less road, I wondered how Frankye and her husband Howard had ever managed to tow a motorboat up this mountain in the 1950s with the family sedan. But I'm getting ahead of myself…


Any trip to West Virginia offers adventure, history, and beautiful scenery. This one was different, however. I was traveling to Huntington, WV, to the funeral of a close friend's mother, Frankye. I'd met her only days before, but I knew all about this remarkable woman, having heard many stories of her in her prime, and later, during her long, heartbreaking decline. This trip report is dedicated to Frankye and to the State where she lived for most of her 84 years. Appropriate to the sad circumstances, it rained—more on than off—throughout most of the trip.

I had the choice of leaving for Huntington on Saturday afternoon and traveling by Interstate or leaving early Saturday morning and exploring parts of West Virginia where Frankye and her family vacationed, many years ago. It was an opportunity to try to find the lake, the cabin, and the church that her daughters, Cathy and Sharon, had told me about. It was an easy choice. It also offered a chance to see some of the history of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad—the company that employed Frankye for more than 40 years.

A quick 250 miles brought me to Covington, Virginia, and the "James River and Kanawha Turnpike," now known as Route 60. Almost right away, I spotted a sign for "Humpback Bridge Park," which naturally required investigation. There, I found something I'd never seen before: a humpbacked covered bridge.



Three earlier bridges—none of which was covered or humpbacked—preceded the construction of this one. Within the span of about 1825-1856, each predecessor was either washed away or collapsed from overuse and weathering. To solve these problems, the current bridge was built in 1857 and protected by a roof and a center section that was four feet higher than either end. It remained in operation through 1929, carrying all the traffic of the Turnpike. Although the flooring of the bridge has never been renovated, it could easily handle vehicle traffic again. It is now the oldest covered bridge in Virginia, and one of only two or three humpback covered bridges remaining in the country.

It is also home to one of the best swimming holes in the State, or so the local kids told me. The rain had not yet begun, it was plenty hot, and Dunlap Creek looked plenty inviting. Just be sure to swing beyond the rocks!



A few miles further on, I picked up Johnson Creek Road and began my search for Sherwood Lake. It soon turned to dirt, and then rough, rocky dirt, and, as noted above, I wondered how Frankye, Howard, her sister Norma, and children Howard Lee, Sharon, and Cathy ever managed to come this way. Eventually, however, I reached civilization—in the form of Sherwood Lake Road, which was actually paved, and it dawned on me that Frankye and her family never had to take the goat trail that I'd just left. They would have driven directly from Neola. By either path, however, the destination was well worth it.



Sherwood Lake featured a remote and beautiful setting, with nice shady trees for overheated explorers to walk under.



The lake was not at all crowded on this Labor Day weekend, and everyone I saw was having a wonderful time—including this adventurous toddler.



A quick exploration demonstrated why Frankye and her family enjoyed Lake Sherwood so much.



Encouraged by the easy success of finding the lake, I set off on the harder challenge of finding the cabin that served as the vacation base for the family. I had little to go on as to its location: somewhere near Neola, WV and not far from an old church. But Sharon had managed to locate a snapshot of the place.



The building had started life as a one-room schoolhouse. It was later converted to a bare-bones cabin for hunters and fishermen, with a low second story added on, full of cots for sleeping. The downstairs had a wood stove, a rudimentary kitchen, and a blackboard that spanned the entire wall. There was no indoor plumbing, but fresh water was available from the hand pump next to the front entrance, being used in the photo above by Howard. Her sister Norma is at the rear door.

I found Neola without difficulty, but a quick pass through town—actually more of a giant trailer park, these days—showed nothing that looked like the cabin or any signs of an old church. The Neola Baptist Church was clearly too new (but I thought Cathy would like to see it anyway, being staunchly of the Baptist persuasion). The sign out front read, "If you have Jesus in your heart, inform your face"!



I located two other churches in Neola, but neither one remotely matched Sharon's description. Moreover, none of the interesting old houses resembled the cabin in the slightest.




The south side of the road through Neola was home to hundreds of camping trailers and trailer homes, many enclosed in odd-looking wooden frames that served as auxiliary supports and front porches. This dwelling had seen better days. I don't think it's still being used—although it's possible that a really heavy camper was indoors, sleeping on the far side of the unit…



On the north side of the road was Anthony's Creek, precariously spanned by this and other bridges. I dutifully crossed each bridge—on foot!—to look on the other side for the cabin and/or church, but there weren't any signs of them there, either. At least the creek was scenic.



Knowing that the cabin was on mild incline, I followed one of the back roads all the way to its end, against the distant hillside. Alas, all I found was a good ol' boy, working on a dilapidated car, and his wife/companion, who was fetching wrenches for him despite being nicely dressed up. They seemed pleased to see me, but neither knew anything about the schoolhouse/cabin. But Mrs. Good Ol' Boy knew of an old church… After chatting a few minutes and thanking them for their help, I retraced my steps through Neola and discovered this United Methodist Church on the outskirts of town. Was I on the trail at last?



Well, perhaps… When I showed this photo to Sharon the next day in Huntington, she wasn't confident that this was the correct old church, although it looked about right. If it is the right one, and you follow the path down to the main road, turn left, go a short ways and turn left again to the cabin, then you find yourself in the middle of the Anthony Correctional Center, barbed wire and all! In other words, the cabin would no longer exist. If, on the other hand, this is not the correct church, then the cabin (and church) may yet be out there somewhere, somewhere between Neola and Marlinton. A good excuse for another trip to West Virginia.

After my in-depth exploration of Neola, it was time to press on. As I left the town, the rain began to fall—perhaps in sympathy for Frankye's lost vacation setting. My remaining itinerary was designed to take me to Beckley for the night. In a straight line, it would have taken only another hour. But there are no straight roads in West Virginia and, besides, I had charted a zig-zag route there in the hopes of finding additional scenic and historic sites (if the rain and impending darkness would allow them to be seen at all).

If you're driving through White Sulfur Springs, WV, then it's important to stop and get a picture of the famed Greenbriar Resort Hotel. And what a place it is. It started life in 1778, and the Grand Central Hotel shown here was built in 1858, but its fortunes really began to soar soon after the Civil War, when the expanding Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad ran a line through the town.



At the opposite end of the scale from the Greenbriar, I'd long heard rumors of The Tractor-Trailer Graveyard, sought by adventurers and big-game hunters from across the world. I'm pretty sure this was the entrance to it.



As I motored on, traversing little-known rural West Virginia roads, I saw many signs of the continuing poor economic conditions. The front of the first house below looked bad enough; but look carefully at the right-hand window.





From time to time, the rain would just pour from the sky in sheets. The rain-sensing windshield wipers in the Z4 got quite a workout, turning themselves on and off, faster and slower, as necessary to deal with the cascade. Technology is a wonderful thing. I had been following the Greenbriar River for some time, through Ronceverte and Fort Spring, trying to find a good spot for a photo. The opportunity finally arrived in Alderson, although finding a non-flooded place to park was a bit challenging. Fortunately, it offered both a good view of the river and a dramatic old house as well.





Next, I went in search of "Great Bend Tunnel," reputed to be somewhere near the town of Talcott, WV. Eventually, acking any obvious "historic interest" signs or other guidance, I was forced to leave Route 3 and just drive alongside the railroad tracks toward a mountain in the distance. (I mean, really—the things I do for you faithful readers!)



After abusing the poor Z4 yet again, along a mile or more of bumpy, crushed-rock track shoulder, I found Big Bend Tunnel. The little spot of light in the far distance in this photo is the opposite end of the tunnel, more than a mile away. This tunnel, however, was not what I was looking for. It's a later addition, having been built in 1932 (and still in use today).



After some backtracking and creative efforts to get on the other side of a tall chain-link fence, I found Great Bend Tunnel in all its glory. It was dug in the early 1870s to allow the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad to avoid a lengthy detour around Big Bend Mountain and Great Bend on the Greenbriar River. By this time, Collis P. Huntington had taken over operation of the railroad and was investing heavily in its expansion. Getting past the Allegheny Mountains was one of his major hurdles. Building this tunnel took 3 years and 1,000 workers to construct, using hand tools to drill holes for explosives.



One of the workers, a tall African-American named John Henry, was considered the most capable of them all. Naturally, when a new-fangled steam drill arrived on the scene, John Henry challenged its operators to a contest—man versus machine. The result is legendary: John Henry, the "Steel-Drivin' Man," drilled two 7-foot holes in the rock, using his 14-pound sledge hammer, in the same time that the steam drill only managed one 9-foot shaft. At the end of the contest, however, John Henry was exhausted. He collapsed on the ground and "died with a hammer in his hand, Lord, Lord."

As best historians can tell, this is all a true story—and the residents of Talcott swear that it's accurate, which should count for something. After all, they've gone to the trouble to erect a statue in his honor high on Big Bend Mountain, directly above the tunnel entrance. For an objective report on the story, see John Henry - the Steel Drivin' Man: Man or Myth? The traditional version of the Ballad of John Henry, sung by Roger McGuinn, can be heard at John Henry.



As for Great Bend Tunnel, it's still there in all its glory, even though flooded by water. If you want to find the opposite end, be sure to bring your waders and a hard hat… Note that there's no sign of a light at the end of this tunnel. It's possible that the ceiling has collapsed at some distant point.



With the skies so dark that photos were almost impossible, and with continuing downpours from time to time, any sensible explorer of West Virginia would have headed directly to the warm, dry Hampton Inn room awaiting him in Beckley. Yr Fthfl Srvnt, however, had one more landmark to find. Leaving the Greenbriar River, I went in search of the New River, which, incidentally, is not so aptly named: Geologists believe it is between 250 million and 360 million years old, which would make it the second-oldest river in the world, surpassed only by the Nile.

In particular, I wanted a look at Sandstone Falls. Part of the New River Gorge National River, the falls are roughly 10 miles north of Hinton—and "readily accessible" by a narrow, meandering, paved road that is not a lot higher than the river. Given the heavy rainfalls during much of the day, I was hoping that it would not be flooded. With only mild trepidation, I drove along New River Road, trying to look for oncoming traffic around the blind corners and through the pouring rain. And there was a lot of oncoming traffic, as it turned out, since everyone else was leaving the state park because (i) it was the end of the day, (ii) the sun was setting, and (iii) it was pouring rain!

Fortunately, I arrived at the park without mishap and naturally had no trouble finding a parking space. A deserted boardwalk led out to the falls, with just enough light left for a picture.




But the boardwalk continued, and a nearby sign indicated that I was at Lower Falls, with Upper Falls another quarter mile or so further on. The New River is 1,500 feet wide at this location, and drops as much as 25 feet at the falls.



To get the above photo, incidentally, I had to climb out on a series of rock ledges. It wasn't until I was about to turn around and retrace my steps that I realized that some of the rocks had a thin coating of wet mud, making them as slippery as ice! With extreme caution, I following the least-muddy path back, spotting this little stone statue in the process, and regained the boardwalk without falling into the river, breaking a leg, or otherwise adding to the adventure.



Driving back to Hinton, I crossed over the river to the legendary Route 20—one of the twistiest and most scenic roads in West Virginia. Which is saying a lot. Route 20 climbs and plunges its way along the banks of the New River, and it was fun to unleash the Z4 a bit, after a day of plonking slowly around in the rain. And it even offered an aerial view of Sandstone Falls, from about 600 feet above the river.



Only a mile from Interstate 64, I encountered this scene, which is not what you want to see when you're cold, tired, and hungry, and have been pushing your luck for much of the day. Fortunately, it was not an accident but merely a car carrier that had bottomed out and gotten stuck while trying to turn onto Route 20 from a steep road. A few minutes later, I was safely detoured around the truck.



Half an hour after that, I was settled into the motel for the night. Frankye's service was at 2:00 the next afternoon, and I had two more West Virginia landmarks to visit on the way to Huntington.



West Virginia has its share of ghost towns, many of which have disappeared altogether. Much of the once-thriving railroad town of Thurmond, however, still exists. It was founded by former Confederate soldier Captain W.D. Thurmond in the 1870s. Once the C & O Railroad laid tracks through the town in 1873, it rapidly prospered as a hub for connecting numerous local coal-mining operations by rail. Thurmond was accessible only by rail prior to 1921, and the buildings sprang up directly along the "main avenue" formed by the railroad tracks. Workers' homes were built above the town on the steep mountainside.



In its prime, Thurmond featured two hotels, two banks, two general stores, telephone and telegraph offices, numerous other businesses, a railroad station and repair depot, and a population of almost 1,000. In this vintage photo, taken from the hills on the opposite side of the New River, W.D. Thurmond's 35-room, 7-bathroom hotel is on the left, next to his bank. (Sadly, the hotel burned in 1963.) At the far right of the large buildings was the River Hill Bank, owned by one Thomas G. McKell and later his son William. The C & O Railroad locomotive shops are in the foreground (but burned in 1993). At one time, 20 passenger trains a day stopped in Thurmond.



The Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society has a terrific booklet on Thurmond, and they have graciously allowed me to use this 1945 photo from their archives. It shows the station at the left, the bridge across the New River in the background, the intersection of several train tracks with the one road through Thurmond, a couple of the steam locomotives that regularly passed through town, and an aptly worded railroad crossing sign. And notice the two little girls walking happily along the closest set of tracks! (Much more information about the C & O Railway is available at the Historical Society's web site: http://www.cohs.org/. And thank you, Greg, for this excellent scan of the photo.)



"Big Mike," a Kanawha-class locomotive, plied the C & O tracks through Thurmond and elsewhere for many years. (It's present home is the B & O Railroad Museum here in Baltimore.)


To get to Thurmond, you start in Glen Jean, built by and home to the Thomas McKell mentioned above. His Glen Jean Bank is still standing and is now a visitor center. He was a formidable coal baron and businessman, who bought up all the land in this area, right up to the western shore of the New River, immediately opposite Thurmond. He named Glen Jean for his wife, Jean Dun.




As it happens, Capt. W.D. Thurmond was a staunch Baptist, and he abhorred drinking and gambling to the point of banning it throughout his town. Never one to miss a business opportunity, Thomas McKell had the western bank of Thurmond reclassified to be part of Glen Jean—which is 7 miles away—and promptly built the imposing and almost legendary DunGlen Hotel. It featured 100 rooms, several restaurants, a ballroom with dances and big-city orchestras, and, not least, drinking, gambling, and prostitution. Needless to say, the DunGlen Hotel positively thrived, and Capt. Thurmond and Mr. McKell became bitter enemies.



Within Thurmond, on the northeast side of the river, the town was quiet, proper, and business-like. On the southwest side, hundreds of people poured into town every weekend for the parties, dances, poker games, and other, uh, entertainment. One frequent visitor was quoted as saying that on his first trip, he stepped off the train directly onto a dead body. The DunGlen, in addition to the usual barber shop, bank, and other businesses, included a mortuary in the basement. The world's longest-running continuous poker game, as reported by Ripley's "Believe It Or Not," was held at the DunGlen. It lasted 14 years and ended only when the hotel burned to the ground in 1930. A popular expression in the early 1900s was, "The only difference between Hell and Thurmond is that a river runs through Thurmond."
The quote obviously applied to the McKell side of town, and it likely vexed Capt. Thurmond to no end.

By driving the 7 miles up the winding (but paved) Thurmond Road, crossing and recrossing Dunloup Creek along the way, one arrives at the eerily deserted town. From what was once the "suburb" of Dun Glen, you cross into Thurmond by a very old, two-lane bridge—where one lane is for cars and the other is for trains…



In the distance, W.D. Thurmond's bank and several of the other main buildings continue to stand proudly, bordering the train tracks just as before.




Looking back the opposite way, Thomas McKell's spur line to the mines along Dunloup Creek curves gracefully onto the bridge, while the restored train station is to the left.



Of course, no one in their right mind would venture out onto this railroad bridge, just to get a picture of the New River.



Especially if they knew that the vantage point wasn't all that great (as it turned out).



As I walked carefully back to terra firma, this dove maintained her distance exactly two railroad ties ahead of me the entire way. She often glanced back reproachfully, as if to say, "Silly human! If you're going to take your chances on a rickety old railroad bridge, you should at least be able to fly!"



Did I mention that while Thurmond is a railroad ghost town, trains still roll through here regularly? The Chesapeake & Ohio became the "Chessie" system in 1972 and later merged its way into the giant CSX conglomerate. Fortunately for silly humans, the Dunloup Creek spur is no longer used.



As this map of the C & O Railroad indicates, Thurmond was once one of the major stations of the line, comparable to Huntington and others. By 1910, more than 4.2 million tons of freight passed through Thurmond annually. And in the 1920s, its tracks handled more freight than the major centers at Richmond, VA, Huntington, WV, and Cincinnati, OH combined. As part of her job with the C & O, Frankye would have been well-acquainted with all of its depots, including Thurmond.



The C & O was one of the last railroads to convert from steam locomotives to diesels in the mid-to-late 1950s. Diesels did not need frequent stops to refill with coal and water, and they needed far less maintenance and fewer repairs. As a result, Thurmond's fortunes waned quickly, and by the 1970s only a handful of families remained. Many of Thurmond's houses are still in fairly good condition. As best I could tell, however, no one lives here anymore. (The population in the 2000 Census was exactly 7.)



The rain had stopped by the time I reached Thurmond, but ominous clouds predicted the storms that I would later encounter on my way to Huntington.



This little building, believe it or not, is the Thurmond Town Hall.



The only sign of life in the entire place was this lone light bulb. Does someone live there? Or did the last resident forget to turn it off as they left town for the final time?



Here are vintage and current views of the railroad station. It now serves as a visitor center.




Did I mention the frequent trains? This was just a pair of diesel locomotives passing through, but it was still a good idea to "stop, look, and listen" before venturing across the tracks. The light blue building on the right served as the post office after the Thurmond Hotel burned.



On September 14, 1901, workers were blasting a rocky area across the New River from the town, to create a railroad spur to another coal mine. When the blasting was done, they were astonished to see that the sandstone formed a clear profile of then-President William McKinley. It was the talk of the town. They were considerably more astonished when they later learned that President McKinley had been assassinated on that day…

One of the most fascinating structures in Thurmond was this well-preserved, 70-foot-tall coal loader. Back in the steam days, trains would pull directly underneath, through the large opening, and stop to fill up with coal. A little further down the track, there were two large water tanks. Coal and water, the staples of the steam age, were available in abundance in little Thurmond, and more trains passed through this town for servicing in the late 1800s and early 1900s than in any of the other industrial cities of the day.



I left Thurmond reluctantly. Its buildings and history vividly portrayed what life and commerce were once like in the U.S. On my way back down the mountain, I spotted this derelict automobile in the side yard of someone's home. For once this is an easily identified make and model: it's a 1959 Edsel! The Edsel proved to be a business disaster for the Ford Motor Company, which lost the equivalent of $2.5 billion when its sales proved to be less than half of the minimum necessary, and the line was terminated in 1960. This one was remarkably complete, other than no hubcaps.



My route to Huntington next took me along the aforementioned James River and Kanawha Turnpike (Highway 60) to Gauley Bridge, where the Gauley and New Rivers join to form the Great Kanawha River. The Intrepid Buzz and I had motorcycled through the town back in 2007, but we hadn't had time to stop, and I'd wanted to revisit it ever since (see West Virginia (GPS, Gravel, and All).

As I drove alongside the New River, I saw an historic marker sign and decided it would be a good place to stop for a photo. I launched a major U-turn across Highway 60 and pulled in behind a parked Dodge Charger, driven, I assumed, by someone else wanting to read the marker and see the river. Upon closer inspection, I realized that it was a West Virginia State Police pursuit vehicle, just waiting for speeders and any other active law-breakers. Oops! Fortunately, Officer Friendly took no notice of me or my blatant U-turn.



And the resulting photo of the New River was worth it, wouldn't you agree?



However, I was searching for what was left of the original 1821 "Gauley Bridge," for which the town was named. All I knew was that it had been a covered bridge, and it was burned in 1861 by Confederate forces under the command of Henry Wise as they retreated from the advancing army of Union General Jacob Cox during the Civil War. The historic marker mentioned the remains of the original bridge, but didn't indicate where they were. The most obvious bridge in the area was this railroad bridge over the Gauley River.



I could make out a bridge abutment on the other side, but I couldn't get a good photograph of it from Route 60. So, I set off for a better vantage point. The railroad bridge seemed like a good candidate, and it clearly hadn't been used in a long time.



Stepping carefully from tie to tie, and mindful of the wide gaps in between, I walked out onto the bridge.



And there, finally, I found the photo I was seeking, with one of the original covered bridge abutments in the foreground and the town of Gauley Bridge in the background.



Continuing along Route 60, I realized that there was a dam across the Kanawha, which promised more picture-takin' opportunities. Sure enough, Kanawha Falls was just waiting for me, in all its glory. The power plant built here in 1930 has been generating electricity ever since. It also figured prominently in the nearby Hawks Nest Incident, the worst industrial disaster in U.S. History, but that's another story for another time.



From Kanawha Falls I made a beeline for Huntington. At the service, the minister told the moving story of Frankye's life, how she raised her 7 sisters and brothers after their own mother passed away when Frankye was only 15, her 40-year career with the C & O Railroad, her second career, after retirement, in the nascent world of word processing for doctors, lawyers, students, and others, and her lifetime devotion to her family. I was honored to serve as a pallbearer and to be invited to share the evening with her daughters, sons-in-law, and several of her grandchildren, as they shared stories of Frankye's life.

Rest in peace, Frankye. You lived in "almost Heaven" throughout your life on Earth, and we think of you fondly in the real Heaven.



The next day, after breakfast with the family at my favorite restaurant chain in the country—Tudor's Biscuit World(!)—it was time to head for home. Within a few miles, the steady drizzle had turned into another series of cloudbursts and downpours. With its worn Bridgestones, my faithful Z4 would occasionally dart sideways by half a lane or so, making the Interstate a lot less boring than usual.

I finally outran the storms by Hancock, Maryland, and I jumped onto scenic and interesting Maryland Route 68 to avoid the usual holiday weekend traffic tie-up's on Interstate 70. Before long, I was stopping to take more pictures (being completely unable to help myself, as you all know). This is St. Mark's Episcopal Church, near Lappans.




There wasn't much left of this farm near Boonesboro.



And I'd always wanted a picture of the Zion Lutheran Church in Middletown, which served as a hospital during the Civil War for soldiers wounded at the nearby battles of South Mountain and Antietam.



Soon enough, I was back home, with memories racing through my mind of West Virginia, mountain lakes, railroads, rivers, and, most of all, Frankye and her family.

Rick F.

Last edited by Rick F.; 03-18-2018 at 06:00 PM..
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      10-08-2011, 11:27 AM   #2
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Great post.

Cheers,
Tony
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      10-08-2011, 03:12 PM   #3
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Great post.

Cheers,
Tony
Tony,

Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it. It's a good bit longer than most, but every place I went was fascinating, and I couldn't bear to shorten it any further.

Rick F.
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      10-08-2011, 03:44 PM   #4
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Fabulous!!!
I thoroughly enjoyable once again Rick.
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      10-08-2011, 04:20 PM   #5
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What awesome pictures!! I've driven through WV may times on the way to Pittsburgh and have never taken the time to experience the state like you did. I am now inspired to do so. Thanks.
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      10-08-2011, 06:23 PM   #6
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RIP Frankye.
Touching story Rick. Amazing Tale!
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      10-09-2011, 10:38 AM   #7
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Rick,

Beautiful... Thurmond completely fascinates me, I would have spent a lot of time there just looking around. The whole area around the Gauley Bridge is absolutely gorgeous, looks like a painting.

I share these posts with a couple of friends, one with family out east in the Virgina area and the other a railroad fan... these never disappoint.

Thanks!

Dave
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      10-09-2011, 12:37 PM   #8
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Thanks for the great pics and history lesson................... loved reading about Thurmond. Ghost towns have always fascinated me
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      10-09-2011, 09:24 PM   #9
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Another great thread! Can't wait till the next installment!
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      10-10-2011, 07:21 AM   #10
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Photo tour

Rick
Your photo journals reinforce what my wife and I have discovered the past 5 years when travelling in the US -the back roads and its towns are great and you get such a different insight to life out side the cities and its great -recommend to all to get off the highways and experience the real people and their welcoming communities. My wife is a photographer so she can relate to the great efforts you go to to present to us these wonderful photo journals .
We look forward to the next
Thanks again
Wayne
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      10-10-2011, 07:31 PM   #11
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Fabulous!!!
I thoroughly enjoyable once again Rick.
inTgr8r,

My pleasure! The trip meant a lot to me on a number of different levels, and I was glad to share it with my fellow Z4 fanatics.

Rick
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      10-10-2011, 07:33 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by zgood4u View Post
What awesome pictures!! I've driven through WV may times on the way to Pittsburgh and have never taken the time to experience the state like you did. I am now inspired to do so. Thanks.
zgood4u,

Go for it! All it takes is planning a little extra time to travel by back roads and to see some sights.

Be sure to let us know what you find along the way!

Rick
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      10-10-2011, 07:47 PM   #13
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RIP Frankye.
Touching story Rick. Amazing Tale!
DaveL
Dave,

Thanks as always! Don't forget to post some of your own trip pic's here from time to time--you manage to get some outstanding photos every time.

Rick
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      10-10-2011, 07:52 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by WhoU4 View Post
Rick,

Beautiful... Thurmond completely fascinates me, I would have spent a lot of time there just looking around. The whole area around the Gauley Bridge is absolutely gorgeous, looks like a painting.

I share these posts with a couple of friends, one with family out east in the Virgina area and the other a railroad fan... these never disappoint.

Thanks!

Dave
Dave,

I'd go back to Thurmond in a heartbeat. I didn't have time to explore further down the track or the switchback roads that wind up the mountain side, where all the abandoned houses (and one church) are located. It was an amazing place.

I'm glad your friends enjoy the write-up's, too. Just the "train history" alone in the Mid-Atlantic area would fill book after book. Before I got to Thurmond, I didn't realize that the tracks were still active. It was fascinating to see modern freight trains come barreling through the ghost town.

At least I think they were modern freight trains--you could kind of see through them a little…

Rick
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      10-10-2011, 07:54 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by antennahead View Post
Thanks for the great pics and history lesson................... loved reading about Thurmond. Ghost towns have always fascinated me
antennahead,

Yeah, who in their right mind wouldn't love to see an honest-to-goodness ghost town? I've only run across a dozen or so in total, some of which barely counted, since there were no remaining signs of the town at all--but I've still been fascinated by them all.

There's another railroad ghost town in West Virginia that's not too far from Thurmond. Its name escapes me at the moment, but it's supposed to be pretty interesting, too.

Rick
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      10-10-2011, 07:57 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by jatmallet View Post
Another great thread! Can't wait till the next installment!
jatmallet,

Well, you're in luck! I've got a trip to eastern Pennsylvania to write up, which features the dreaded Pennhurst Insane Asylum, as well as a nifty little car museum.

And yesterday I made a trip to the eastern shore of Maryland where I witnessed--no kidding--a biplane dive-bombing an abandoned Baptist church. It was great!

I'll get busy on these reports.

Rick
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      10-10-2011, 08:01 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by wrose View Post
Rick
Your photo journals reinforce what my wife and I have discovered the past 5 years when travelling in the US -the back roads and its towns are great and you get such a different insight to life out side the cities and its great -recommend to all to get off the highways and experience the real people and their welcoming communities. My wife is a photographer so she can relate to the great efforts you go to to present to us these wonderful photo journals .
We look forward to the next
Thanks again
Wayne
Wayne,

Thanks, I'm very glad you've enjoyed my trip reports. It's a lot of fun to research the areas where I'm planning to go, and then research them in more detail when I get back and want to find out what it was that I saw.

And, as you and your wife have found, there's a photo-opp around nearly every corner when you travel by back road. Sometimes it's hard just to make a little progress on the trip!

Rick
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      10-11-2011, 10:52 PM   #18
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The pictures say a thousand words themselves...but your words alone are worth the view! Thanks once again Rick!
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      10-12-2011, 10:46 AM   #19
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Mmmmmmm, whitewater rivers and a great drive, just need someone to transport the Kayak and gear :-)

Steve
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      10-15-2011, 05:17 PM   #20
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The pictures say a thousand words themselves...but your words alone are worth the view! Thanks once again Rick!
bucko,

You bet! It's my pleasure to write these trips up, and I'm really glad that you and the other Faithful Readers enjoy them.

Of course, I'm two reports behind schedule: A trip to southeast Pennsylvania, and last weekend's trip to the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I'll try to catch up!

Rick
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      10-15-2011, 05:19 PM   #21
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Mmmmmmm, whitewater rivers and a great drive, just need someone to transport the Kayak and gear :-)

Steve
Steve,

The New River had some excellent-looking rapids. Some of the river can be pretty dangerous, I believe. But it would be a fabulous way to tour West Virginia, including many parts that you just can't get to otherwise.

Rick
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      10-20-2011, 09:52 AM   #22
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Wow Rick; what a fine chronicle with words and pictures. Thank you for sharing that. I also love driving through WV and try to spend as much time there as possible in the Winter during ski season. A beautiful place no doubt.
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