Part of the drive goes through Goshen Pass, a wild, natural preserve in Virginia’s Allegheny/Appalachian Mountains. It’s beautiful but if one isn’t used to the drive (which is mild compared to what’s to come!), it can be more than a trifle daunting. In the above photo, the white line is inches, not feet, away from the shoulder which is soft from spring rains. Those pitiful lil’ upright yellow sticks are there to say stay away and not to prevent a tumble into the turbulent Maury River rushing by.
Of course you shouldn’t try this at home! This photo (as were a lot of them), taken on the fly, shows how close the road is to the river and how high the river is due to spring flooding. At some places, the road is a good 60-75 feet (perhaps more) above the river and a tumble is not advised! In decades gone past, friends and I have camped on the Maury River, somewhere in Goshen Pass, and had a fine ole time. We fished for our supper (brook trout fried over a camp fire), slept under the stars and absolutely, totally lived in that moment.
Last photo of Goshen Pass, promise!, but can you see the piddly lil’ ole yellow sticks in the lower right standing between the road and the stone wall? Now notice the Maury River over the edge, photo center, about 60 to 75 feet below…seriously, folks, this calls for some steady, focused driving! I did not see even one person talking, much less texting, on their mobile phone. (Of course, the fact there’s no cell tower service might have something to do with that! lol) Oh, and remember what I said…the worst road is yet to come…
In the Go Soak Your Head post, here, I write of the Jefferson Pools, Bath County, VA
which are well worth a special visit. The Pools were frequented by Thomas Jefferson and are amazing! Folks with joint, ligament, arthritis, rhematiz and the like find their body is free, for a while, of aches and pains…at least, that was my experience. The Pools are owned by the Omni Homestead Resort and are now closed due to structural damage. (I wonder if the Omni will ever do the necessary repair work? After all, if the Pools are closed, folks will be forced to visit the Homestead…at much greater expense!) Friends of the Warm Springs Jefferson Pools continue to plead with owners to re-open.
Further on, Sharp’s Country Store in Slaty Fork, WV abounds with eye candy galore and the Kissing Bridge; click on the link to read more, especially about the 1,000 year flood. Slaty Fork is an unincorporated community in Pocahontas County which is home to Snowshoe Ski Resort.
As an aside, the largest land owner in West Virginia got his start when Granddaddy loaned him $1,000.00; this was back when $1K might as well been $1M. Ralph Beckwith Lumber owns more than 100,000 acres of WV mountain and timber. This page tells more of the Beckwith story but the date is wrong; the loan was made in the late 1950’s but it was made on a handshake. Granddaddy believed, and taught his children same, that a man was only as good as his word and his handshake sealed the deal. To this day, when people talk about E.B., the words honor, integrity, trustworthy and the like are used and the same is true of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchldren.
At some point, after leaving WV State Rt 219, the smaller, but still paved road, leads to Elk River Resort. I’ve never stayed here but it looks rather grand…cabins for rent and the lodge, above, has rooms for rent and it has a full service restaurant. I’ve heard wonderful things about Ellie May’s Ole Mill Restaurant and fully intend to eat there…some day.
Traveling further up the mighty Elk River, the roads become…more challenging. When it’s been a while (like now) since I’ve traversed this coal and timber road, I become a white knuckle driving. Not only white knuckle driver, I find I’m perched on the edge of my seat, sometimes holding my breath and audibly praying. As an aside, Elk River stories have run through my family history for generations (two of Daddy’s siblings drowned in this river and I’m not sure, but it might have claimed a great great great grandmother and her children. They were drowned somewhere and I believe it was the Elk.) and I have my own Elk River story that I’ve survived to tell (thank You God!). Others have their stories as well; Dave Breitmeier calls the Elk, The Lady.
Going to the cabin isn’t as terrifying, dangerous or white knuckle as coming from the cabin. As you can see, going to means I’m on the upper side of the road as opposed to the falling off into the river side of the road. Big, Big, BIG difference!
This stretch of road actually has a couple of pull over places so two vehicles may pass which is made MUCH easier when those two vehicles are cars or passenger trucks. Just imagine a huge truck loaded with coal or timber…I don’t mind admitting, my stomach rolls even now, just thinking about it!
Whitaker Falls is the dividing line between Randolph and Webster Counties and where folks fishing for trout may be found, in season and out…lol. It’s also a mighty fine place to stop and take a
few lot of deep breaths…the worst is yet to come.
This photo taken out of the driver side window; didn’t need to open the door, just held the camera outside and took the photo.
When I was 14 years old, Daddy’s mother was in hospital and not expected to live. It was May, typically WV weather was cold and snowing, and Mom didn’t want to travel with my younger siblings but I was allowed to go with Daddy. While we were headed up this mighty Elk River road, Daddy said, “Sandra, listen to me. Unlock your door, roll down your window and, very carefully, turn around so you’re facing the side of the mountain. If anything happens and the truck starts to slide off the side, you THROW yourself out and away from the truck then go for help. Understand me?” I gulped and asked, “But what about you, Daddy? What will you do?” He replied, “I’ll be in the truck and have some protection but I don’t know how far down the mountain I’ll go. You have to jump out of the truck and go for help, I’m depending on you. It’s cold and I’ll be all right for a while but you’ll need to get help as fast as you can. Now, put on your coat and be ready.” So I did and, thank God, we stayed between the ditches.
Just another adventure with Daddy!
This is sort of, more or less, the beginning of Ball Alley and for a bitty piece there’s a guard rail. That doesn’t last long and this is the part that’s most frightening (to me anyway). If the person driving down the mountain meets someone coming up the mountain, the person driving down is supposed to back up and give way. The reasoning being, it’s safer (who makes up these stupid rules anyway?!). I hate and despise this stretch of road and on the return trip I swore to myself I was going the long way around. The long way around adds 38 miles and about ninety minutes (driving with the dogs, remember?) but it’s on 2 lane road and there’s loads of room to pass even the largest truck, coal or timber. Then I remembered I was leaving on Saturday and coal or logging trucks don’t work on Saturday; I’d only have to worry about vehicles. YES! But, that’s another story for a later post; I’ll leave you with this final picture of the cabin Daddy and Mom built. Daddy designed it, it’s about 850-900 square feet with 3 bedrooms, bath (indoor plumbing!), utility room and a great room comprising a kitchen, dining area and living room. A wood burning iron stove means heat in cold temps and open windows and fans means cooler temps when needed.
Seriously, did you think I was going to let you go without asking you to click here? Silly you! lol
There’s more to this story, stay tuned…
Ponder this ~ Deep down, I’m just a West Virginia hillbilly. ~ Brad Paisley ~