Carolina: Cruising Past 70: OLA: Taking Me Home, Country Roads, WV

Monday, September 19, 2011

OLA: Taking Me Home, Country Roads, WV

the tallest capitol dome in the US is in Charlesto, West Virginia
We kept on humming John Denver’s  ‘West Virginia, my old momma, Take me home, country roads’  while we drove to Charleston (3 hours one-way) from our campground in Wilmington, Ohio. We had decided not to take our RV there but take the most direct route to Florida (our home this winter) instead: through Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia. After all gas prices are still up and at 20,000 pounds, M’A guzzles gas at 8 miles to a gallon. Besides the Thousand Trails System where we are a member has no campground there.

the Mothman Statue
the Silver Memorial Bridge built in 1969
to replace the one that collapsed in 1967, killing 46
At the border of Ohio and West Virginia we crossed the shining Silver Memorial Bridge on the Ohio River to the little town of Point Pleasant. Paul, a new friend we met at the Wilmington Resort (he owns a Newmar Mountain Aire 1997 exactly like ours!) lent us a DVD of the 2002 movie, Mothman Prophecies starring Richard Gere, Debra Messing and Laura Linney, which was based on a book by John Keel about the town’s legend. We also met Robert, caretaker of the Mothman Souvenir Shop, who was a great story-teller.

town memorial of the bridge collapse
that killed 46 during the rush hour on 12/15/1967
Paranormal enthusiasts flock to the town in search of Mothman, a large creature with 10-foot wing spans and red glowing eyes, said to inhabit an abandoned TNT factory from WWII. It is believed to be a harbinger of imminent disaster, now being seen around the globe before great tragedies. The legendary creature was reportedly seen from November 15, 1966, to December 15, 1967, when the Silver Bridge, an I-bar chain suspension bridge built in 1928 and named for the color of its aluminum paint, collapsed during rush hour. All reports of sightings mysteriously stopped after that day when 46 people met their tragic deaths.
the small town amphitheater by the Ohio River
with the railroad trestle at the background 
                                                                               For a town with a current population of 4,600, 46 deaths meant that almost every household was affected. A marker was erected on the site and the new Memorial Bridge was built in 1969 a few miles away. And Point Pleasant eventually recovered. Looking out to the old railroad trestle above the Ohio River is the amphitheater which the residents use for community events. The wall separating the little park from downtown is painted with many murals of the town’s history.   
Such is the charm of country roads and captivating legends.

Renaissance Village
Charleston, on the other hand, looks very much a charming metropolis (population, 350,000). From the campus of the University of Charleston across the river, the dome of the state capitol, the nation’s tallest, is elegantly crafted with 24-carat gold leaf and strikes a grand shimmering pose among the verdant trees,. The statues of Stonewall Jackson on its side and Abraham Lincoln at its front guard this magnificent building, underlining the fact that the state was formed in 1861 out of Confederate Virginia as a symbol of the Union’s victory early in the Civil War.

colorful bridge shops
Even the town market, The Capitol Market, is like a little Granville of Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada. The upscale shopping district on a tree-lined street is called the Renaissance Village. And from the central town bridge, up on the hills where the rich live, pretty colorful Bridge Shops abound.

But we did not get to the parts of the state on its really scenic routes, extensions of John Denver’s ‘Almost heaven West Virginia, Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River’. Sometime in the future, we will get another chance. In the meantime we are content with our little magnet for our collection from the souvenir shop. It reads, ‘Dreaming of heaven, West Virginia’. Anyway, the small town atmosphere of Point Pleasant and the distinctive sights in Charleston were enough to fill another wonderful day in our wanderings in the meantime.

Next Post: Riding on Kentucky's Unbridled Spirit 


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Love the pic of the dome in Charleston. the Mothman story intrigued me enough to check out the movie. Very disappointing. The story sounded so interesting, but the movie really blew it.

    sounds like an interesting town, tho

  3. watched the movie too...i agree...could have been better. thanks...

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