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#7. The Kangaroo Conservation Center.Eastern grey, western grey and red kangaroos (above) live comfortably in Dawsonville, Ga.
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#35. Trinity Church, Staunton, Va.Twelve of its stained glass windows were designed by Tiffany Studios.
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#26. “Pretty Place.”It’s situated at the top of Standing Stone Mountain, near Greenville, S.C.
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#38. The Devil’s BathtubIn Scott County, Va., it’s said to be “cold as…”
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#21. Sylva, N.C.Visitors can explore its trees along a walking tour.
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#18. ThorpeWoodIn Maryland, the center helps at-risk youth, teaches ecology and hosts meetings and conferences.
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#43. Restored water tankOn W.Va.’s Greenbrier River Trail, it once watered steam locomotives.
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#1. Orbix Hot glass, Lick skillet
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#36. The Stonewall Jackson Prayer OakJackson is said to have spent mornings along this abandoned road near Weyer Cave, Va.
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#14. Knobby RockThe stone formation rises in Kentucky’s Blanton Forest.
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#46. Devil AnseThe infamous Hatfield is buried in this cemetery near Sarah Anne, W.Va.
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#29. At the towing museumIt was once customary to convert low-cost limousines into tow trucks or wreckers – this was a model 640 Packard limo installed with a three-ton crane.
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#7. The Kangaroo Conservation Center.Eastern grey, western grey and red kangaroos (above) live comfortably in Dawsonville, Ga.
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#41. Sandstone FallsAlong the New River, they were the setting for a Lassie film.
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#25. Wash Hollow FallsIt’s one of three cascades visible from N.C. 215 below the Blue Ridge Parkway.
#7. The Kangaroo Conservation Center.
#35. Trinity Church, Staunton, Va.
#26. “Pretty Place.”
#38. The Devil’s Bathtub
#21. Sylva, N.C.
#43. Restored water tank
#1. Orbix Hot glass, Lick skillet
#36. The Stonewall Jackson Prayer Oak
#14. Knobby Rock
#46. Devil Anse
#29. At the towing museum
#7. The Kangaroo Conservation Center.
#41. Sandstone Falls
#25. Wash Hollow Falls
The following is a list of 50 Blue Ridge Mountain Secrets published in the March/April 2007 issue of Blue Ridge Country. Please call ahead to verify information.
1 Orbix Hot glass, Lick skillet
Lick Skillet hasn’t grown much over the years and remains a quiet community on the outskirts of Fort Payne, where it’s home to Alabama artist Cal Breed.
“I became fascinated with glass in 1994, first creating stained glass windows and finally works of art through glassblowing,” says Breed. “I fulfilled a dream by opening Orbix Hot Glass in 2002.” The building houses the furnaces where Breed creates beautiful works of art and a studio for displaying his intricate designs.
Breed literally breathes life into each piece he creates, easily turning a ball of hot glass into a pitcher or other object of rich transparent hues.
“We host open studios with live demonstrations, and classes in glass blowing, fused and stained glass,” says Breed, “to attract people who find joy in making or appreciating something handmade.”Orbix Hot Glass, 256/523-3188, www.orbixhotglass.com. —Patty Tucker
2 Willstown Mission
Established in 1823 to educate and convert the Cherokee Indians, it operated until 1838. Its cemetery still exists. Fort Payne, 1-888-805-4740, www.tourdekalb.com.
3 Unfinished Bridge Trail
The 1.25-mile hiking/biking trail leads to a set of rock pillars jutting out of the Little River. The CCC constructed the state park during the Great Depression and World War II halted the building of a bridge across the river, calling men off to war. The pillars still remain; in 2004 a pedestrian platform was laid down to span the gorge. DeSoto State Park, DeKalb County. 1-800-568-8840, www.desotostatepark.com.
4 Log Cabin Deli
Housed in an 1820s Indian fur trading post, it’s been a restaurant and deli for more than 30 years. “Be sure,” advises Patty Tucker, “to inquire about their chili corn pone and spiced tea.” Mentone. 256/634-4560, www.tourdekalb.com.
5 Gospel Greats
Multiple-Grammy winner Vestal Goodman was born in Fyffe, on Sand Mountain, and Ala. 75 through town was posthumously named the Vestal Goodman Highway. Influential gospel composer Jesse Randal “Pap” Baxter was born in DeKalb County and is a 2001 Alabama Music Hall of Fame inductee. —PT
6 The Camak Stone
Professional Surveyor magazine published a story in 2004 about the mysterious meeting of three states – Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia. A stone marks the spot, which is still a source of controversy. —Dan Cook
7 Kangaroo Conservation Center
Few people, when they think of the picturesque North Georgia mountains, conjure up images of marsupials from the Outback. That just makes the Kangaroo Conservation Center in Dawsonville – home to the largest collection of ’roos in captivity outside Australia – even more of a treat.
Hundreds of Eastern grey kangaroos and their softer-furred red cousins roam this 87-acre breeding facility and sanctuary at the foothills of the Appalachians. Several brush-tailed bettongs, a critically endangered species also known as rat kangaroos because of their diminutive size, have been born at the center. (No, they’re not related to rodents!) Dama wallabies, a near-extinct breed and the first species sighted by Dutch explorers when they landed in Australia in 1629, live here too.
This place is true to its name; it isn’t a flashy attraction (due to the sensitive nature of the animals, only children in second grade and up are allowed on the tours) but a highly-respected research center for zoos around the globe.
That certainly doesn’t detract from the fun. Visitors can learn to throw a boomerang, enjoy a “Wild Australia” show and take a safari-style ride on the 90-passenger KangaRanger. Along the way, they’re likely to see young joeys playing tag and adult ’roos sucking down kudzu stems like spaghetti while tour guides share intriguing facts about kangaroos and other critters from Down Under. Hiking is encouraged on the quarter-mile Aussie Walkabout trail surrounded by natural ‘roo habitats. And a stop at the Billabong Encounter, an immersive indoor-outdoor exhibit featuring Australian plants and animals, is a must.
706/265-6100, www.kangaroocenter.com. Tour dates and times vary, and reservations are required for all tours, so call ahead before visiting. —Nancy Henderson
8 Georgia Guidestones
Four 19-foot-tall, 119-ton granite monoliths carved with phrases such as “Avoid petty laws and useless officials” in 12 languages are a source of mystery and controversy. They were erected and unveiled in 1980 by a man known only as R.C. Christian. See Jan/Feb ’03 Blue Ridge Country (“Mountain Curios”) for Randy Southerland’s story. Elbert County. —suggested by Lee Griggs
9 Old Stone Museum Church
That old familiar hymn, “Leaning On the Everlasting Arms,” was first sung here. The church dates from 1849, was once a Civil War hospital and is now a Civil War museum. Ringgold. 706/935-5232. —Emma Gormley
We contacted Kim Hatcher, with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, for her favorite mountain secrets, and weren’t expecting her first comment: “Do you know about the Hike Inn? Well, I like the worms…”
10 Vermiculture at the Hike Inn
A tour of the eco-lodge at Amicalola Falls State Park, reachable by foot only, includes a visit to the worms, which compost everything from leftovers to junk mail. See BRC July/Aug ’99 and Sept/Oct ’02 for articles on the Hike Inn. 1-800-581-8032, www.hike-inn.com.
11 Smithgall Woods Conservation Area
Smithgall Woods’ 5,500-plus acres of land is an exercise in preservation. Donated to the state by the Charles Smithgall, Jr. in 1994, it houses guests today in cabins he built. The fly fishing is wonderful, but anglers must make reservations. In White County. 706/878-3087, www.smithgallwoods.com
12 The Wall on Fort Mountain
“They haven’t figured out exactly who built it or when,” says Hatcher, but a plaque on the 885-foot stone wall lists theories. The state park is also home to a lookout tower built by the CCC in the 1930s; one stone is heart-shaped, carved and placed by one CCC member who missed his sweetheart. 1-800-864-7275.
13 Tallulah and Tightropes
The great Wallenda wasn’t the first to walk a tightrope across Tallulah Gorge. Professor Leon accomplished the feat first in 1886 in front of an audience of as many as 6,000.
14 Blanton Forest
Blanton Forest in the southeastern mountains near Harlan, is a prototypical gem of Kentucky’s remaining wild places.
This is a place where rocks, trees, animals and streams come together as they should. Hulking masses of rock thrust into the sky at sharp angles; a diverse blend of hardwood and softwood trees sink their roots deep into the rocky soils, covering all in a cloak of green.
As I make my way up the steep mountain trail, I see browsing deer and a parade of turkeys, and well-defined tracks that attest to the recent meanderings of a black bear. A pair of contented red-tailed hawks swoop and wheel high above.
The forest here has attained a state of perpetuity with 100-foot hemlock trees that are three to four feet in diameter and 300 to 400 years old. I am astounded at the notion that many of these trees were more than 100 years old at the time of Daniel Boone and more than 200 years old during the Civil War.
As a professional naturalist, it occurs to me that Kentucky’s Blanton Forest is essentially a time capsule. It is the quintessential embodiment of the way things were at their very best before disturbance – a natural wonder.Kentucky Natural Lands Trust, Berea, Ky. 1-877-367-5658, www.knlt.org. —Dean Henson
15 Nada Tunnel
“The Nada Tunnel provides a spooky and dramatic portal into Kentucky’s Red River Gorge,” writes photographer Jim Waite. “This dark, one-lane (barely) tunnel with very rough-hewn walls carries a state road through a sandstone ridge. It would be a nightmare for people with claustrophobia, but kids love it. The tunnel formerly served a logging railroad.” District ranger’s office: 606/663-2852.
16 “D. Boone” Slept Here?
“About 30 years ago,” Waite also writes, “hikers in the Red River Gorge discovered an isolated rock shelter/cave with the remains of a crude hut inside and the name ‘D. Boon’ scratched into one board. Is this a spot that Daniel inhabited or is it a hoax? Nobody knows for sure. The spot has a mysterious air, and the hike is beautiful.” District ranger’s office: 606/663-2852.
17 Papaleno’s Italian Restaurant
Okay, it’s not exactly traditional Appalachian fare, but this pizzeria, started in the early 1970s a stone’s throw from the Berea College campus, is just great. They toss the dough, the walls are brick, the windows look out on the quaint town and campus and the chocolate cake is inches high. See page 50 for more on Berea. 859/986-4497. —Cara Ellen Modisett
“My stepfather, Merle Thorpewood, wanted the land to be put to some sort of public use,” says Sam Castleman, president of ThorpeWood Center, reflecting on the pristine 116 acres surrounding this mountain retreat.
Driving through Cunningham Falls State Park and following a couple of winding country mountain miles on seldom-trafficked roads, visitors come upon the timber framed lodge of ThorpeWood. Located in a cloistered hollow in the Catoctin Mountains, the ThorpeWood Center is home to native trout streams, mountain pastures and meadows and interior forests.
“Using a natural setting for environmental education and committing to the same kids over the course of years are all future goals for us,” says Program Director Bill Prudden. “We take children from inner city Baltimore and Washington, D.C. and put them in this natural setting. It is amazing. ”
ThorpeWood’s ecology programs include an American chestnut recovery effort and a restoration program for Maryland’s brook trout habitat. ThorpeWood also partners with local high school students and teachers, training them on how to conduct useful scientific studies on local streams where the data is then used at the state level. 301/271-2823, www.thorpewood.org. For more on Thorpewood’s “green” programs, turn to page 80, in “Views of the Moon.” —Christina Widener
19 Maryland Heights
The much more well-known Appalachian Trail passes close by, but the Maryland Heights Trail is also a worthwhile hike. David Fatalleh, photographer for West Virginia Tourism, points out that it overlooks Harpers Ferry but never passes into West Virginia. The trail stays in Maryland, with views of Virginia and of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. —CW
20 The Oldtown Toll Bridge
One of few remaining privately-owned toll bridges in the U.S., this one-lane wooden structure crosses the Potomac River at Oldtown, Md. —Pat and Chuck Blackley
21 Sylva Tree Walks
I’ve always enjoyed walking around the streets in the quaint town of Sylva, but until recently I discovered I had been walking past more than 50 species of trees. Local author and artist Col. Theodore Fuller created the Sylva Tree Walk in 1981. Forty-four of the species are detailed along the 1.2-mile stroll.
The Sylva Garden Club currently maintains the walk, which features a guidebook, map and small signs at the base of each tree indicating its common name.
The walk officially begins in the shade of Bicentennial Park near the old courthouse, but visitors can easily park and start at any point along the trail. Some of the varieties include Norway spruce, Canadian hemlock, crimson king maple and yellow poplar. There’s even a rare ginkgo tree, native to the Orient, and a lovely sassafras. For information about the tree walk, visit the Jackson County Visitors Center on West Main Street, or call 1-800-962-1911. —Marla Hardee Milling
22 Montreat Trails
“About 3,000 of Montreat’s 4,000 acres are designated wilderness and are bordered by the Blue Ridge National Scenic Byway, Mt. Mitchell State Park, Middle Creek Research Natural Area and the Black Mountain Natural Area,” writes photographer Cindy Coleman. There are 20 trails to choose from, and free maps are available in the general store.” 828/669-8002, www.townofmon treat.org.
23 Wayah Bald Fire Tower
“Wa ya” means “wolf” in Cherokee, and it’s believed that this mountaintop was a hunting ground as long ago as 11,000 years. Today, hikers will find the fire tower, built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, at its top. Franklin Chamber of Commerce: 828/524-3161; 1-866-372-5546. —Tony Moore
24 Smokemont Church
Hiker and author Danny Bernstein calls it “hidden in plain sight.” The church, established in 1832 and rebuilt in 1916, is an echo of Smokemont, a community that used to be here. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Swain County, N.C. 865/436-1200.
25 Highway 215 Waterfalls
Ben Geer Keys sent us images of three falls along N.C. 215 from the Blue Ridge Parkway. The first, Bubbling Springs Branch Cascade, is visible after two miles on the right; Waterfall in Wash Hollow is reachable by a hike on the right about four miles from the parkway and one unnamed falls, is visible a few hundred yards more on the left.
26 “Pretty Place”
My wife and I wander around the South Carolina upstate often traveling from Travelers Rest to Marietta and Cleveland on U.S. 276. From 276, and some of the back roads in upper Greenville County, we could see a church and cross on top of a mountain. Trying to find a road to the site is almost impossible unless you know where and what the church is.
After asking some folks in Cleveland, we discovered “Pretty Place.” Fred W. Symmes Chapel (known as Pretty Place because of its view) is one of the buildings at YMCA Camp Greenville.
The history: Fred W. Symmes gave the current chapel. It was constructed in 1941; additions and improvements have been made since that date. The outdoor chapel offers a breathtaking view from the top of Standing Stone Mountain. Walking down the steps toward the cross is like walking out into the valley.
Visitors are welcome to visit the chapel during daylight hours except when closed for services, camp functions or weddings. More than 100 couples are married each year at the chapel. 864/836-3291, www.campgreenville.org/cha pel.htm. —Lee Griggs
27 Poinsett Bridge
The Poinsett Bridge, built in 1820, lends its name to the 120-acre Poinsett Nature Preserve. It was once a part of the state road from Charleston to the Blue Ridge mountains and spans Little Gap Creek with a 14-foot-high Gothic arch. For this issue’s feature on the town, turn to page 60. —LG, Carolyn Smith
28 New Trails at Lake Conestee Nature Preserve
Lake Conestee Nature Park, just outside Greenville, is a 300-acre work in progress whose preservation has been spearheaded by the Conestee Foundation since 2000. The goal is that the park will eventually comprise more than 600 acres. An initial 2.5 miles of trails were opened to the public in October 2006. Conestee Foundation: 864-277-2004, www.conesteepark.com. —Ben Geer Keys
29 International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum
Chattanooga has long been known for its transportation – first the paddle wheelers, then the railroads made famous by Glen Miller’s “Chattanooga Choo Choo” and, more recently, a groundbreaking fleet of electric buses. And towing.
Yes, this is the birthplace of the tow truck. So it’s only fitting that the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum would call Chattanooga home. Originally housed one block from the site of the first wrecker assembly in the U.S., the 12-year-old museum has moved a few miles south, near the foot of historic Lookout Mountain.
It all started in 1916, when a wealthy Chattanooga businessman accidentally got his car stuck in a shallow creek bed. A mechanic named Ernest Holmes worked all day to retrieve the vehicle, using brute force, a half-dozen helpers and a block strung from a tree. There must be a better way, he thought on the way back to his shop. Before long he had built a tripod of poles on the frame of an old Cadillac chassis, attached a pulley and run a chain out the rear. The tow truck was born.
Today, the International Towing Museum features an ever-changing display of vintage trucks, such as the 1947 GMC “bubble nose” that once delivered beer for the Pabst Brewery before being used to tow school buses. Then there’s the 1913 Locomobile, which, back in the day, cost a whopping $6,000. Of particular note is the extensive collection of antique toy trucks.
So has this nostalgic museum pulled towing to its rightful place in the automobile industry? Well, sort of. The History Channel featured it on “Modern Marvels” a few years ago, and tongue-in-cheek correspondent Bill Geist showcased it on “CBS Sunday Morning.”423/267-3132, www.internationaltowingmuseum.org. Visit the web site or call for spring/summer schedule. —Nancy Henderson
30 Gentry Creek Falls
Named for the pioneer Joseph Gentry, whose son William established an ironworks on the stream around 1800. Two waterfalls total up to 80 feet in height, and a 2.5-mile hike is the only way in. Cherokee National Forest, Johnson County (423/476-9700). —Joe Tennis
31 The Wampus Cat
Storyteller S.E. Schlosser includes it in his book of folklore, “Spooky Tales.” The tale goes that it was once a beautiful Native American woman, doomed by a medicine man to roam the hills part woman, part cat. There are still reports of mysterious sightings today, including on the campus of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
32 Rocky Fork
Stretching across Unicoi and Greene counties, Rocky Fork is part of TWRA’s Cherokee Wildlife Management Area system – but photographer Jerry Greer brings to our attention that its 10,000 acres are under threat. Go to www.saverockyfork.org for more information.
33 Shenandoah Mountain Trails
The loveliest thing about the Shenandoah Mountain Trail, which straddles the ridge of Shenandoah Mountain, is the relative ease of this hike through the remote backcountry of the George Washington National Forest. Though more than 30 miles in length, the trail follows the top of the ridgeline, offering views to both east and west, while still providing a fairly level hike that makes it one of the most accessible of mountaintop trails.
The quickest way to reach the trail is off U.S. 250 at the Highland-Augusta county line about 25 miles west of Staunton. This jumping-off point divides the trail into two sections, one heading north, one south. The northern section of the trail offers a good day hike round-trip, as it stretches about seven miles north to the West Virginia state line.
A half-mile loop off the beginning of the northern section of the trail provides a winding tour of Fort Edward Johnson, also known as the Confederate Breastworks. These breast-high trenches were constructed in 1862 by troops under command of General Edward Johnson in an effort to defend the city of Staunton and the Parkersburg Turnpike from invasion by Union forces from the west.
The trail is easy and rolling, passing under maples, oaks and poplars, then thrusting into clearings at regular intervals, where one can gaze west toward the endless ridges of the Alleghenies. Views east sink into the dense forested mountainsides of Ramsey’s Draft Wilderness.
For those interested in an overnight trek, the southern section of the trail is longer and less traveled. Of immediate interest is Signal Corps Knob, just east of the southern trail’s beginning at U.S. 250. This mountain swell (elevation 3,906 feet) was used by signalmen during the Civil War for flag semaphore communication.
The trail is actually a fire road for the first two and a half miles. Elevation ranges from 2,000 to 4,000 feet, though climbs and descents are long enough so as not to be strenuous.
After about 11 miles, the trail opens considerably offering a couple of miles of uninterrupted views west into the Cowpasture River Valley. And after 19 miles of sharp descent, the path begins to wind around the eastern side of North Sister Knob and then South Sister Knob on the west. Here the views open to reveal not only the Cowpasture River but the Jackson River also. The trail ends at Va. 678 near Fort Lewis in the isolated reaches of northern Bath County.
USDA Forest Service, North River Ranger District, 1-866-904-0240, www.fs.fed.us. See Blue Ridge Country Jan/Feb 2005 for Leonard Adkins’ hike on Shenandoah Mountain. —Deborah R. Huso
Su Clauson-Wicker wrote the fifth and sixth editions of “Off the Beaten Path in West Virginia” (Globe Pequot). She offers a number of secret and unique destinations in Virginia and West Virginia, starting with:
34 Narrows Wolf Creek Swimming Hole
It’s “still free after all these years,” writes Su Clauson-Wicker. “It looks somewhat like a swimming pool with its slate-stone sides and diving board and slide, but it’s actually part of Wolf Creek in Giles County, Va. – the last of the old free swimming holes, only this one has concessions, parking, and sometimes a life guard.” Town of Narrows Recreation Department: 540/726-2961.
35 Tiffany Stained Glass Windows
Trinity Church was founded in 1746 and is the oldest church in Staunton, Va. Twelve of its old stained glass windows were made by Tiffany Studios in the late 19th and early 20th century. The church’s web site shows the windows and includes history: www.trinitystaunton.org, 540/886-9132. —Jim Waite
36 The Stonewall Jackson Prayer Oak
It’s said that Stonewall Jackson prayed every morning under this tree when he was camped here in 1862. How to find it: The tree is just south of U.S. 256 on an abandoned road between Weyers Cave and Grottoes, write photographers Pat and Chuck Blackley.
37 Reddish Knob
The place for sunsets, beloved by locals and local college students from James Madison University. Climb a winding road to get there after leaving Harrisonburg on Va. 42. At Bridgewater take Va. 257 up and out of town nearly to the West Virginia line. Augusta County. —CEM
Joe Tennis, a Bristol-based reporter, is author of “Southwest Virginia Crossroads: An Almanac of Place Names and Places to See,” and a veritable trove of odd and obscure spots. Here are a few of his recommendations for off-the-beaten-path in Virginia:
38 The Devil’s Bathtub
“The local tradition says it was named for the devil because it’s clear as ice water and ‘cold as hell,’” says Tennis. Directions to the Scott County, Va. spot are in Tennis’s book.
39 Comer’s Rock Overlook
Comer’s Rock is a little-used, ridgetop campground in Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, sitting at an elevation of 3,800 feet. The stone observation platform that can be reached by a half-mile hike. 276/783-5196, 1-800-628-7202.
40 Birch Knob Overlook
Birch Knob is the highest point on Pine Mountain, in national forest along the Virginia-Kentucky border, at 3,149 feet. An observation deck was built on the Virginia side in 2003, with views into both states. See Tennis’s book or www.BlueRidgeCountry.com for directions.
41 New River Gorge:Lassie’s Sandstone Falls
When Paramount Pictures cast Lassie in a heroic whitewater scene in 1994, they took the canine classic to Sandstone Falls in West Virginia’s New River Gorge National Park and filmed along the 1,500-foot broad cascade. It was perfect. The roar, the splintered droplet mist, the water walloping over boulders all show a mighty river in charge of its course.
But it’s a scene that few actually experience. Oh sure, a lot of motorists pull off at Sandstone Overlook on W.Va. 20 for a remote viewing. But the real excitement lies in getting up close and personal with the New River’s largest falls. And that involves driving to Hinton and taking a mostly one-lane, mostly unpaved CR26 almost nine miles along the western side of the river to the park.
Once you get there, the National Park Service has made things easy. They’ve constructed a .25-mile, handicap accessible boardwalk to islands in the middle of river. On an observation deck below the island, you can eat your cheese sandwich by the pounding 25-foot waterfall.
The site has other attractions: It’s a popular fishing spot for smallmouth bass and catfish as well as home to some unusual plants, including the Virginia cup-plant, Kentucky coffeetree, hoptree and toothache tree. (Yes, the berries of the toothache tree will make your mouth go numb, but don’t try it – tasting strange fruit is risky and in the park it’s illegal.)
Wading and fishing are popular pastimes in the shallows above the western half of the falls, but visitors who enter the water should avoid the deadly currents upstream of the higher eastern half. A few kayakers have run the west side of the falls, but most agree it’s a monster.
In the words of riverman Robert Martin on the American Whitewater web site, “Sandstone Falls is not for runnin’, it’s for lookin’ at.”
New River Gorge National River Park Headquarters, 304/465-0508. www.nps.gov/neri. —Su Clauson-Wicker
42 Scott Hollow Cave
It’s “a 20-mile maze of wild cave along the underground Mystic River. The only way to go is by guided tours through a metal trap door in a culvert.” Monroe and Greenbrier counties. For tours and access, contact the cave’s owner, Mike Dore, firstname.lastname@example.org. —SCW
43 Greenbrier Trail Water Tank
Backpackers, bicyclists, equestrians and cross-country skiers now travel the 76 miles of former C&O Railroad. The only remaining water tank on the trail was built in 1923 and used to water steam locomotives. About 50 feet from it are the remains of the C&O turntable. Greenbrier River Trail State Park: 304/799-4087, www.greenbrierrailtrailstatepark.com.
44 Once a Secret…The Greenbrier Bunkers
The U.S. government built them during the Cold War under the grounds of the Greenbrier Resort to protect government, military and civilian personnel in the case of a nuclear attack. Go to www.BlueRidgeCountry.com for Linda Kramer’s story on the bunkers. —also suggested by Su Clauson-Wicker
45 West Virginia Meets the Middle East
Caryn Gresham, with West Virginia Tourism, nominates her choice for a mountain secret – Shaharazade’s Exotic Tea Room in Shepherdstown (304/876-1000). They serve 40 kinds of tea, sometimes with belly dancing.
Jeanne Mozier, author of “Way Out in West Virginia” (editions one and two, with another one expected by the end of 2007), is practically the queen of West Virginia oddities. She offers these secrets…
46 Hatfield Family Cemetery
“The Hatfield Family Cemetery just off W.Va. 44 near Sarah Anne is a bit hard to find,” she writes, “but worth the scramble off the road. Inside the metal arch entrance is the impressive, life-size pure white Carerra marble statue of Devil Anse Hatfield, feud patriarch – bare-headed, full bearded and in formal pose.”
47 The World’s Largest Draw Knob Organ
“The world’s largest draw knob organ now resides in Forest Burdette United Methodist Church in Hurricane. With six stacked keyboards and more than 26,000 pipes, the organ produces sounds ranging from drums and trumpets to bells.”
48 Vicki’s Part of Heaven
“The fantastic gardens of Vicki’s Part of Heaven alongside the road in Arthurdale, W.Va. [304/864-4679] are sorted by category – bathroom area has flowers overflowing from a commode, clawfoot tub and wringer washer. The centerpiece is a 1950 pick-up that sports at least two dozen areas of blooming plants. After wandering through Vicki’s, head down the road for…
49 Eleanor Roosevelt History
“…the homesteading community established by Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1930s. Much the same today, the 165-homestead community was the first, a protoype of the resettlement towns.” Preston County near Morgantown.
50 Exline’s Iris Farm
“It’s along the Potomac River in Berkeley Springs and showcases more than 650 different varieties of iris in bloom and aromatic on 1.5 acres of land.” The catch: it’s only open during iris season, “for about six weeks with Memorial Day as the midpoint.” 304/258-3735.