Saturday, February 18, 2017

Traveling West Virginia: Tu-Endi-Wei, The Place Between Two Waters

 This small park--possibly the smallest of West Virginia's state parks--encompasses only four acres, but packs a lot of history into its square footage.

I've visited here before, once as a storyteller, and once with some of my granddaughters. I supposed I've stopped in here and there in between, but all of my visits seemed to be short and packed with other things to do. So this time, I took my time.

Because I had some things I wanted to see. I had explored most of the sites and stories surrounding Mothman, the area's strange phenomenon that appeared, according to the stories, in 1962 and led to many more sightings and the appearance of "Men in Black" (this was the first time the term was used). But I wanted time to see things like the Merci Train French Oaks. I wrote about the trees in a post about five years ago .

The West Virginia boxcar from the Merci train is on display
in Welch, WV. For information, call  (304) 436-3803
or (540) 297-4946

The trees were grown from acorns sent in the Merci Train from France--a gift from the grateful French people to the people of the United States for their aid during World War II. Just standing near the trees gave me such a sense of...what? History? Of a time when the world was unified? When the US was unified? I felt sad and at the same time hopeful. The park's superintendent, Doug, happened to be there while we were at Tu-Endi-Wei and he told me he'd set out a few young trees from the seed of the old trees so that the French oaks will continue to be a reminder of history.

Tu-Endi-Wei park (the name means "place between two waters") is also the home of the oldest hewn-log structure in Mason county, WV. The house is in good repair considering it was built in the late 1700's. It is referred to as the "Mansion House" because at the time of its construction it was considered huge for a home on the frontier.

Another monument on the grounds commemorates the gravesite of men who were killed at the site during a battle of Lord Dunmore's War, a conflict between the British and Native American tribes in the area. These men were buried in the magazine, a structure used to store ammunition. The most tragic aspect of this battle was that soon afterwards, Chief Cornstalk came in peace to the fort at the site, and was murdered. Legend has it that he placed a curse on the area which has prevented Point Pleasant from thriving as it seems like it should, with its prime location at the juncture of the mighty Kanawha and Ohio rivers. Both Larry and I had ancestors who were present at the Battle of Point Pleasant: Stephen Holstein on my husband's side, and a doctor in my family line who lived in Rowlesburg, VA (now WV) at the time of his service. (It is interesting to find that there are descendants of my maternal great-grand-mother in West Virginia, none of whom I have yet met).

A petroglyph, found in Mason county, stands behind protective fencing.

A barge passes by the monument to Chief Cornstalk. You can read his "curse" here.
Tu-Endi-Wei is a fine place to view passing river traffic, and even the passing barges call history to mind. Imagine the dugout canoes, the flatboats, keelboats, steamboats and other watercraft that have passed by this lovely site. Imagine the natives, cooking their fish on the riverbanks, the settlers poling their way to a new life, the smoke and excitement of the steam era, the horrendous noise of the tragic collapse of the Silver Bridge just a few hundred feet north. So many lives have been touched, both by good and by bad, at this place.

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

1 comment:

Brig said...

Always find it interesting to learn the history of a place. Thanks!

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