Thursday, October 9, 2008

Grant Town and Ida May

This is just one of the many pretty roads Aaron and I traveled on Wednesday in northern Marion County. You would not guess to look at this land that there are many deep mines under the surface--some active, some long since idle, and a couple with deadly histories.



One of the things I find fascinating about this area is the Italian heritage. Many families are descended from Italian immigrants who came to work in the mines, and the bakeries and restaurants attest to this background. Pepperoni rolls were actually invented in this part of West Virginia, although there still seems to be a little disagreement about exactly who made them first.




We passed this place on the way to Grant Town. I won't say what Aaron called it, but I liked the way it sat at the edge of the road on the little rise. I wonder if it had been a boarding house, a store, a hotel? Hard to say. It may have just been always a residence.



Coal still drives a large part of the economy in this part of West Virginia, although nothing like its heyday. The roads are narrow and twisting, and as you can see in this photo there's no extra room for the big coal trucks to maneuver.



Aaron said that truckers will call ahead in certain areas because tow of them cannot pass each other in those places--like one he called "the dip and squeeze." If you saw the narrow little bridge and sharp curve with no space for shoulders, you'd understand the name. Trucks approaching on either side will call ahead to warn any truck coming in the other direction to wait. Of course, if you're traveling without a radio, you're on your own.


This is the Grant Town power plant where Aaron works. As I understand it, this plant is a recycling plant--they use coal waste from other power plants to generate more energy.


And this is a former strip mine site. Would that all strip mines were reclaimed as well as this one.


On another part of the reclaimed mine, a small forested knoll rose above the landscape. The reason it wasn't tampered with? There is an old graveyard hidden beneath the trees. We didn't investigate as we weren't dressed for hiking, but one day I'd like to go back there.


The post office at Ida May (pronounced, I'm sure, Idy May) is located beside what used to be the mining company's company store. Ida May once was a thriving mine community. It is the tunnels from the old mine that run under the ridge where Aaron's house is located.


There is so much to see in Marion County--the abandoned railroad trestles, the rail trail, The Farmington monument and Monongah. Not all of its history is pretty, but it is filled with stories of people making a living in a dangerous industry, of immigrants making a home in a new place, of ghost stories and small towns and small farms. Sometimes getting off the beaten track, away from the usual tourist destinations, brings the biggest rewards and understanding of people and their place.




7 comments:

Janet said...

Looks like you had a nice trip. I love the old company store and the last picture of the little road meandering it's way through the trees. Missed you last night, I was giving away pears.

Truck Reviews said...

Having been a truck driver for many years, I know exactly where your coming from when you talk about the feeling you get from visiting these small towns. I’ve seen probably hundreds of towns like this in many parts of the country, and they always give me a warm, down home feeling.

Anonymous said...

I spoke with Kenny Mazure in Granttown and he would like to give you a little history of the town when we are able to get together. The American Legion building was actually the old company store. The big green warehouse was a supply store for mining equipment.

Oh and the house I showed you on Circle Drive? It was the superintendents home and there is still a bullet hole in the bedroom wall.

Neat, huh?

Aaron

Kathy said...

I really enjoy getting off the main roads and going through small towns. When I was out with my husband, (he was a long haul truck driver and would go from one end of the country to the other)I would like it best when we had to take roads like this to get to where we were going. I would always wonder about the people (past and present), what they did, how they lived, etc. Places like this IS the heart of America.

Granny Sue said...

What wonderful comments from everyone.

Truck drivers know America in a way most people never take the time to do. I have to admire the truckers who travel West Virginia's roads--they're not for the faint of heart.

Aaron, I would love to know more about Grant Town. Definitely when I come up again, we'll have to talk to Kenny. Thank him for me.

Truck Review, thank you for stopping by again. I checked out your website--neat! I agree about the Silverado--we have a 1994 model that is still going strong, a regualr workhorse. I love that truck. It ain't pretty, but it's impressive.

Granny Sue said...

Darn, Janet! I do have a pear tree, but i never turn down free food! What kind of pears do you have? Ours are the old fashioned Bartletts.

Janet said...

I'm not sure what they are called. They are not bartlett, mine are firm and crisp and juicy. You can't bite into them, you have to slice and eat them, maybe they are bosc, does that sound right. I like them better than the soft ones, but I guess that's because I'm used to mine.

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