Wednesday, March 14, 2012

33 Hours: A Trip through Time

A quick post to show you some of what we saw the past two days on our trip to southern West Virginia. This is coal country; trains, trucks, big rivers, miners, tipples, old towns that once were boomtowns, incredible scenery and the most welcoming people you'll ever meet. That is the the short description of this area rich in history, heritage, natural resources and mountainous landscape. I will write more when I return from New York, but for now here are a few photos to give you some idea of what it was like.

This was taken from the top of the mountain where the Little Coal River begins, looking down the Little Coal valley. We followed the Little Coal for much of its length as we took the 2-lane highways through small towns in Boone,Wyoming  and McDowell counties.

Looking down on Welch from Rte 52. Once this town was home to over 6,000 people.

The Elkhorn Inn, where we stayed. The inn was built as a clubhouse for coal miners in 1929 after the original wood structure burned. It suffered serious damage in the 2002 floods and its current owners have done major restoration work. It is elegant and comfortable, but for me the chief attraction is the railroad, located just feet away on the other side of the 2 lane highway.

We took a quick trip down to War, West Virginia, traveling through Coalwood, a once thriving coal town where author Homer Hickam and his friends built their rockets and became famous as the "Rocket Boys." Their story was made into the movie "October Sky." I highly recommend it if you have not seen it and Mr. Hickam's books about his growing up years in Coalwood.

When we got back to the inn, it was dark but we went out on the balcony to watch the trains passing anyway. They blew their whistles for us. There were many trains during the night, at least 5 or 6 that I heard. I loved the sounds of them rumbling past. Rail fans come from all over the country to watch trains at the inn.


Tunnels for the railroad tracks were everywhere:

At the school where I was performing, the welcome was warm and immediate. 


We took a different route home, traveling along the Tug and Guyandotte rivers. Some of the roads were right narrow.


And so to home. We had been gone about 33 hours, and the time was crowded with memories and people. I want to go back; there is still so much to see.

3 comments:

Carolyn H said...

Granny Sue: you sure packed alot into that 33 hours!

Granny Sue said...

We did, Carolyn. And there was so much more that I have to share in another post. As we came down our driveway both of us said, "Did we really just leave yesterday?" It felt like we'd been away a week, and a very good week too. The area has such poverty in some areas but the richness of history, spirit and beauty overcome that for a visitor. One day maybe times will be better for these people; certainly we saw a lot of changes for the better since our last visit in 2005.

Rob Hunt said...

I love trucking and trucking stories thanks for yours.

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