Into the WV Woods and Beyond
Jul 23, 2010
|As we drove into West Virginia a couple weeks back the sign on the side of the road read… “Wild and Wonderful West Virginia”… now I believe it!
We drove from Saint Albans to Pipestem enjoying the scenic panoramas, the lush forests, the rivers and the waterfalls our entire trip there. Once we arrived in Pipestem we settled in for the week. The humidity made it uncomfortable to hike in the middle of the day, but we did get out nearly every day for a morning and then an early evening hike. It occasionally rained on us, but never for long periods of time.
There are so many butterflies to be seen everywhere in this part of West Virginia! R.H. Heinlein said, “Butterflies are self propelled flowers” and how true that is! I have seen butterflies ranging from yellow ones the size of my hand to black ones with neon blue spots. My camera kept wanting to capture every “self propelled flower” I saw!
After our week in Pipestem we headed for Bluefield to explore the southern area of WV. Although all of this area is lovely, a couple of my favorite highlights this week were Pinnacle Rock and the town of Bramwell.
Pinnacle Rock is simply a lovely place to hike and appreciate the natural beauty of West Virginia. Although much of the hike was a bit more vertical than my lungs and knees cared for, it is a gorgeous and exhilarating area.
I also really enjoyed the town of Bramwell (incorporated in 1888 and known as “The Millionaires Town”). As per the tourist information, “Bramwell was once considered the richest town in the United States for its size, reportedly with as many as fourteen millionaires living here in the early 20th century.” This town earned its money from the rich stores of coal in the area.
We walked the Historic Bramwell Home Tour and learned much about the people and time of this town’s glory days. All the houses were charming and appeared well maintained. Two houses stand out in the tour: the Cooper House and the Thomas House.
The Cooper House was very impressive! This house built in 1910 (see picture above) has an indoor swimming pool, a copper roof and the orange brick was imported from England.
The Thomas House (also in a picture I took above) was said to have cost $95,000 to construct. That was a lot of money to spend on a house in 1909! W. H. Thomas was an owner of several mines in the area and he employed Italian masons to do the stonework.
The actual town looked a bit deserted, but in its day was a busy place with the coal company offices, dry goods and grocery stores. The corner building (Bryant/Newbold Pharmacy) is reported to have been only the third store in the entire US to carry Channel No. 5 perfume. I guess at that time in this town’s history the local ladies could afford it!
It has been an interesting and fun week and now tonight we are staying in Beckley. We will do a little exploring around here and then head towards Elkins where we plan to stay at Pegusus Farm Campground for a week starting on Monday. There are lots more sights to see before we get to Elkins so I’ll be posting again soon!