This is our campsite at Northbend State Park in West Virginia. We were next to the creek and would watch the animals every night. The deer would graze in the campground during the week when there weren’t many people there.
This is a renovated train station along the Northbend Trail. The mannequin is sitting at a desk operating the telegraph. We ate our snack here and then biked to the next town for lunch.

One more tunnel picture. This is the longest one. The light spot in the middle is the other end ½ mile away. 

OK we’re now at Watoga State Park, WV. Our campsite is along the Greenbrier River and the trail is on the other side. We stayed here one week.

The leaves were changing color and starting to fall. This is the town of Clover Lick. They have restored the depot and moved it to the current location. We stopped to have a break when Bob spotted 2 ladies working on the porch of the big building. They were pouring ceramic statues. They showed us how it was done and gave us a tour. This lady’s husband was born here. They come back and visit every year and she helps with the ceramics.

The trail follows the Greenbrier River for 77 miles. In this area there is an outfitter who does wagon train rides. We know because we had to dodge horse poop every so often. Judy sometimes missed though. I think they hide the piles in the leaves on purpose.

Marlinton now 

and in 1905

Beartown State Park
The name Beartown was chosen because local residents claimed that the many cave-like openings in the rocks made ideal winter dens for the black bears of the area. Also, the many deep, narrow crevasses were formed in a somewhat regular criss-cross pattern and appear from above like the streets of a small town.

Beartown is noted for its unusual rock formations, which are comprised of Droop, or Pottsville, Sandstone formed during the Pennsylvanian age. Massive boulders, overhanging cliffs, and deep crevasses stir the imagination of most visitors. Pocketing the face of the cliffs are hundreds of eroded pits, ranging from the size of marbles to others large enough to hold two grown men. Ice and snow commonly remain in the deeper crevasses until mid to late summer. Vegetation clings tenaciously to life, sending roots into mere cracks in the rocks.

That’s not a blue bear, that’s Judy. She really liked this place. We visited here and Droop Mountain when it got too cold to bike (25 degrees at night and snow flurries)

Civil War History

Located in the Greenbrier River Valley north of Lewisburg, Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park is the site of West Virginia's last significant Civil War battle. On November 6,1863, the federal army of Brigadier General William W. Averell, in his second attempt to disrupt the Virginia-Tennessee Railroad at Salem, Virginia, faced again the confederate troops of Brigadier General John Echols. Throughout the morning, Echols' smaller confederate army held the high ground and blocked the highway with artillery, but in the afternoon was overwhelmed by the crushing advance of federal infantry on his left flank. Following the collapse of his lines, General Echols retreated south into Virginia with the remnants of his command. Federal Troops occupied Lewisburg on November 7, but being burdened with prisoners and captured livestock; General Averell elected to return to his headquarters in Beverly, West Virginia, waiting until early December to lead a third and ultimately successful attack on the vital railroad. Operations in the Shenandoah Valley in the spring of 1864 drew remaining confederate troops out of West Virginia, thus leaving the new state securely under the control of the federal government for the remainder of the war.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (C.C.C.) built the Museum, Lookout Tower & other buildings in the 1930's. The park is located on Route 219,15 miles south of Marlinton and 27 miles north of Lewisburg.

We visited these three places while in West Virginia. This telescope is part of The National Radio Astronomy Observatory. It’s the largest of several on the site (485’ high and 16 million pounds). They picked this area because of the remoteness and the surrounding mountains, which shield it from interference. The government doesn’t even allow cell phones in the area (10,000 square miles).

Cranberry Glades Botanical Area

The largest area of bogs in West Virginia occurs with-in this 750-acre National Natural Landmark. Bogs are acidic wetlands typically found in Canada and the northern United States. To protect this fragile area, a half-mile long barrier-free boardwalk has been con­structed for visitor use.

The Highland Scenic Highway is a beautiful corridor through West Virginia's Monongahela National Forest.
The Highway traverses the mountainous terrain of the Allegheny Highlands and Plateau, and rises from Richwood, elevation 2325 feet, to over 4,500 feet along the Parkway.


Cass, WV is an old lumber town that the State has purchased and restored the railway up the mountain. We got there just as the 11:00 “leaf peeper” train was leaving for a 4-hour excursion to the top of the mountain. Since it was about 40 degrees that day and the cars were all open we decided not to go. We later found out that they over booked and there was standing room only. The train normally carries 500 people and they even added extra cars. We were glad we didn’t go.

They use two engines to push the train up the mountain. The engine at the top picture is the second engine waiting to hookup so it doesn’t block the highway. The picture at the left is hooked-up and ready to go. The right picture is with whistles blowing, bells ringing and soot and steam everywhere, they’re off. The engines are two of several that they have operating. They are “Shay Locomotives” built by Baldwin, Lima, Hamilton in Lima Ohio. One was built in 1905 and the other in 1926. 

The next stoop was Pipestem State Park, WV. It’s on top of a mountain next to the New River Gorge.

We rode the tram down to the lodge at the bottom. We were planning to eat there but the cheapest meal was over $20 so we ate in the lodge at the top for half that.

The park is close to Beckley, WV, where the city owns an old coalmine.

Judy decided that a coal miner is not on her list of things she wants to be when she grows up. This is our guide showing us how to drill, blast and dig out the coal from this 36” high seam. They only raised the roof to allow tours. Normally the roof would be only as high as the coal seam. They worked in here with only the light from the headlamp for 16 hours per day.
While in Beckley we went to Tamarack, a large complex that displays and sells crafts made in West Virginia. Bob picked out a coffee table that was a bronze statue of a fly-fisherman standing in a stream. The glass top was the surface of the water with his legs going thru and the fish and the rocks below. The price was only $20,000. Judy said no.

That’s Judy (not John) standing at the entrance to the Great Bend Tunnel. It was where John Henry raced the steam drill and won. The statue is on the hill above the tunnel. The tunnel was replaced by the one on the left that is taller. 

We left West Virginia and stayed 1 night at Warrior’s Path State Park in Tennessee on our way to Pigeon Forge to meet Dick and Debbie and Jim and Sandy. The campground in Pigeon Forge was a commercial one that would take reservations for three sites together. Guess what? They goofed up and couldn’t put us together. We were about 8 sites away from the others and next to a guy who lived there and would sit out on his patio drinking and smoking all day with the radio blaring country music. The RV’s were only about 10’ apart not like what we are used to in state parks. 

We spent the week visiting Gatlinburg, biking Cades Cove and doing the normal tourist things. We were however anxious to get out of all the traffic and crowds.

We’re now at DeSoto State Park in Alabama, the home of the band “Alabama”. The park is on top of Lookout Mountain, famous for the Little River Canyon.
  That’s Judy standing on the falls. They are in a drought and there’s not much water.
Yesterday we visited the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro. They buy from the airlines all of the unclaimed baggage and resell it. Mainly it’s clothes and luggage, but there is everything from a $29,000 emerald to books and magazines. We just bought some Christmas cards and some computer paper. 

Fort Payne is also the sock capital of the world. We went to a sock outlet and bought some socks (wow).

We also visited their local museum in the depot.

We have been hiking in the park. There has not been any rain and the streams are dry. This is Judy on top of Lost Falls where the water should be.
Today we went to Noccalula Falls. The city of Gadsden owns the park that has the falls, a campground, and a botanical gardens. We rode a train thru the gardens but the falls had no water. This is what it normally looks like.


The LEGEND OF NOCCALULA came from these early times. Originally known as Black Creek Falls, the legend as written by Mathilde Bilbro says that “long ago, on a mountain summit within sight and sound of a rushing waterfall, lived a great Indian Chief whose young daughter, Noccalula, was famed far and wide for her beauty and loveliness of character. Many gallant braves sought the old chief for the hand of Noccalula, hut only one was favored by the girl's father, a rich chief of a pow­erful neighboring tribe, who had much to offer in exchange: wampum, horses, blankets. Vainly Noccalula pleaded that her heart was already given to a young brave of her own tribe. But this young warrior; though noted for his skill and valor, possessed but little in worldly goods.

"The old chief refused to listen and ordered his daughter to make ready for the marriage he had arranged. What was a maiden's silly fancy against many horses, much wampum, and union with another strong tribe? The girl's lover was driven from the tribe, and a marriage agreement was made with the neighboring chief.

"The wedding day came and a great feast was prepared. In silence Noccalula allowed herself to be arrayed in festive wedding robes. It was incred­ible!....To be sold to a stranger by the father she loved! Her chosen lover forever banished! Overcome with grief, she quietly slipped away from the merrymakers during the festivities...the soft rhythmical rush of waters called her....a moment she stood poised upon the brink of the yawning chasm. One leap - and her troubles were over.

“Heartbroken, the remorseful father gave the great cataract his daughter's name, and since that day the falls has been called Noccalula."

We also went to Boaz, AL. The town has a large outlet mall and not much else. We bought some Levy’s to go with our socks.

We’re going to hike for a couple more days and are then headed for Daytona. This is the last chapter of Platy & the Gang for this year.

Last updated 06/10/2006