Friday, February 17, 2017

Traveling West Virginia: Mason County and the River Museum

Since we may not be able to take an overseas trip this year (still recovering budge-wise from last year's!), we've decided that we will take a few road trips this year to explore places we've been wanting to see. Some will be close to home, others further afield. We took our first trip yesterday as we took a break from furniture repair, tax preparation and all the usual activities that keep us hopping.

We've been to and through Point Pleasant, WV many, many times. We were there last week, actually, driving through on the way to Larry's VA appointment in Huntington.But there was no time to stop--again. I have particularly wanted to visit two places in the town, and then to drive along a road we'd traveled probably 20 years ago.

 Our first stop was the River Museum in town. I've done a lot of storytelling for the Ohio River Museum in Marietta, OH but had never visited this one that is closer to home. So this was the day. The Fout sisters were working at the museum and made us very welcome. The sisters co-wrote a book about the Silver Bridge disaster that struck the small town in December 15, 1967 and pointed out various artifacts from the bridge. I've been to the site of the old bridge, read the signs and the memorial with the names, and I knew some of the story.

We watched two videos while we were there about the bridge's collapse, one of which included an extensive interview with a man who was one of only five people who survived that terrible collapse.

Larry looks at a model of the bridge and photos showing the aftermath.

While I suppose almost everyone living in west Virginia has heard about the Silver Bridge, most probably know about what I did--that it fell near Christmas into the ice-cold Ohio, and that 46 people lost their lives. Knowing these facts, though, doesn't compare to actually hearing the story from someone who experienced it.

Photos of crushed cars and twisted pieces of the bridge.
a piece of the bridge with more information about its collapse.
What horror that day had to have been for Paul Scott, who jumped from the back seat of the car he was riding in with some of his buddies from work. Scott was thrown from the bridge far out into the water; his friends stayed in their car and died.

The museum houses many river artifacts and models of steamboats.

A miniature steam calliope allows you to play tunes. I tried my hand at "Oh Susanna."

I never expected to play one of these in my lifetime. This one, of course, doesn't run on a coal-fired boiler, but with a small air compressor.

It also has a 2500-gallon aquarium with examples of some of the kinds of fish to be found in the Ohio.

And surprise of surprises, there is a simulator that allows visitors to pilot various kinds of boats!

One can choose the type of craft--motorboat, barge, several others--, day or night, and location along the river. I opted for the barge, even though Ms. Fout cautioned me that it would be very slow moving and urged me to try the motorboat instead. I also chose to pilot it at night, and along the Ohio near Cairo, Illinois.

I love barges, and have taken probably hundreds of photos of them over the years. This poster shows how to identify the barges of various companies by their stacks. Who knew that was possible?

Another room housed another surprise: the museum has a training room for potential pilots for learning river radar. This wasn't in use the day  was there.

It was a fun tour, and well worth the $5.00 admission fee. If you decide to go, be sure to check their webpage or their Facebook page for  hours of operation and upcoming events. For example, a couple years ago we took the Cincinnati Belle downriver for an evening cruise sponsored by the museum, and event they sponsor every year. Tickets for this year's cruise are already for sale, and usually sell out.

Tomorrow: The Merci boxcar, the Mansion House and more from Tu-Endi-Wei.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


Jenny said...

There is no better place to visit than WV in my opinion!

It looks like we may actually head that way this October. We're celebrating our 30th ann. in May & have decided to go east in the fall. We're heading to San Diego next week so we need the summer to save up a little what better time to visit the mtns than October. I am so excited! Rather than drooling over my favorite WV bloggers photos I'll get to go visit my home county & see friends I haven't seen in yrs.

Granny Sue said...

How awesome! Maybe we'll be able to meet up. That would be so cool. Please keep me posted on your plans.

annie said...

Sounds like a wonderful interesting place to tour!

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