Dahle family who were early German settlers in the area and once owned the mountain.
About 20 years ago Larry and I camped up on Dolly Sods, and I came away with two memorable stories. Well, maybe three. First, my son and grandson came up to visit us at our campsite. Clayton was 4 or 5 years old I think. We had a campfire and roasted hotdogs and marshmallows, and Clayton and I went bear-hunting. It was such fun to play imaginary games with him! I still smile, remembering how much he loved being up there, and how he begged to spend the night with us. My son knew his boy, though, and was pretty sure that come midnight, Clayton would have been wanting to go home.
|Teaberry is abundant on Dolly Sods. The berries smell exactly like |
Clarks Teaberry Gum!
He also told us that people used to set the mountain on fire intentionally every 3-4 years so that the berries would grow. This kept the trees and other growth from shading out the berry bushes.
|Erosion is evident on the rocks, and most of them seem to be|
made of sedimentary material--which is odd, considering
that they are on top of a mountain. The red leaves of a
blueberry or huckleberry bush are behind it.
Wikipedia offers a different version of the history of the area: "The area surrounding Dolly Sods was formerly described as the best spruce-hemlock-black cherry forest in the world, with some enormous trees up to 12 feet in diameter. The huge spruce and hemlock became accessible in 1884 when the West Virginia Central and Pittsburgh Railroad, a predecessor of the Western Maryland Railway, first arrived at nearby Davis, from a junction with the B&O Railroad at Piedmont. In 1899, the Parsons Pulp and Lumber Company (PPLC) established a sawmill at Dobbin on the North Branch Potomac River in Grant County. In 1902, the PPLC installed a new band saw mill on the main stem of Red Creek. The lumber boom town of Laneville soon sprang up around it with a population that peaked at over 300 people.Shay locomotives climbed the temporary railroads into the mountains and backcountry logging camps sprang up throughout the Sods, clearing away the virgin forest to feed the hungry mills. Teams of draft horses dragged all the commercial timber to the nearest tracks. When the timber was exhausted in the sector around one camp, the rails were taken up and reused elsewhere. It was into the mill at Laneville that most of the timber of the southern two thirds of the Sods disappeared.
"Unfortunately, however, the humus covering the ground dried up when the protective tree cover was removed. Sparks from the locomotives, saw mills and logger's warming fires easily ignited this humus layer and the extensive slash — wood too small to be marketable, such as branches and tree crowns — left behind by loggers. Fires repeatedly ravaged the area in the 1910s, scorching everything right down to the underlying rocks. All insects, worms, salamanders, mice and other burrowing forms of life perished and the area became a desert. The destruction was extraordinary. The complete clearcut of this ecologically fragile area, followed by extensive wildfires and overgrazing, exacerbated by the ecological stresses of the elevation, have prevented quick regeneration of the forest which has taken decades to recover. The Monongahela National Forest was created in 1915, largely motivated by a desire to mitigate the sort of wholesale destruction that had swept over the Sods. In 1916 most of Dolly Sods was purchased by the federal government for the MNF from the Bridges Estate."
The third memory is a story that I laugh at now although at the time it wasn't quite so funny. On that same camping trip we had dropped off our youngest son to spend a week with our son in Virgina. It was a treat for us to have a camping trip with just the two of us. After my son and grandson left, we prepared for bed. I went to get my bag and it wasn't there.
"Larry," I said, "did you get my bag?"
"We just have one, don't we?" he asked. "I gave Tommy his two, and ours is in the car."
Um, no. We had two--one for him and one for me. So there I was on top of lonely Dolly Sods with no clean clothes, no sweatsuit to sleep in (gets cold up there, even in August), and no clean underwear.
You can imagine how quiet it was in our tent that night. I was so angry but knew better than to start talking!
Next morning we went out to pick berries, the reason we were there in the first place. As I stretched to reach one patch, my foot slipped and I heard a R-R-R-I-I-I-P-P-P! That was the seat of my pants--and my shirt did not come down far enough to cover the hole. The trip home was even quieter than the night in the tent--I had no clothes to change into so any bathroom breaks for me meant a run into the bushes. That was a trip to remember--and now to laugh about.
Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without to Susanna Holstein.