1 of 12
A performer at the Charleston Ballet
2 of 12
Icy roadsides along I-64
3 of 12
In the Berkley Coal Mine, the canary cage is one signal of trouble.
4 of 12
In the Berkley Coal Mine Museum, documents of the scrip and cost of supplies. Circa 1937
5 of 12
The recovered pieces of Valentine Hatfield's (Devil Anse's brother) log cabin, now in storage awaiting restoration.
6 of 12
A portrayal of Devil Anse Hatfield
7 of 12
Documents at the Tug County Tourism Office of Anderson Hatfield's Civil War service.
8 of 12
Historian Bill Richardson stands at the well where the 1888 New Year's Night Massacre took place and Randolph McCoy's wife was left for dead.
9 of 12
The gravesite of Devil Anse Hatfield in the Hatfield Memorial Cemetery.
10 of 12
The capitol building in Charleston, West Virginia
11 of 12
A street carnival in downtown Charleston, West Virginia
12 of 12
Local goods found at the West Virginia Marketplace
This time of year, once you speed past the college football rivalries and menus for the big Thanksgiving feast, people eventually get down to business and remember the reason why a multitude of aunts, uncles, cousins, mamas and daddy's are under the same roof - in honor of family and history. This will be repeated at Christmas, too. The ones who took their first steps, the ones who aren't quite as sharp as they once were, and the ones who only live in one's memory. Who we are and where we came from cause people to chatter on incessantly until the last piece of pie is devoured. And when relatives turn to leave, someone will inevitably say, "Why don't we get together more often?'
In the name of family and history, why do we wait so long to discover the wealth that is ours? The stories of the past and future are endless and must be discovered. Not only the stories that exist within families but the stories are simply based on geography. We shouldn't have to wait for a holiday for an invitation to come home.
My roots are immersed within the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia, but that's a story for another day. Today, it's the people and places of West Virginia that hope to offer clarification as to my husband's family heritage, one that is scattered deep within the rugged mountains and coal-mining county of Wetzel. We traveled to West Virginia this year as part of a Travel South conference and decided we would never be handed this opportunity again - to spend time in discovery, for isn't that what travel is all about in the first place. We arrived in Littleton with very little clues that yielded very little results. Being from the South, we overlooked that in this winter, most clues are lost beneath a foot of snow. But in our search our family story, we discovered a land rich in history and pride - a people passionate about its past and overjoyed to share it with all who will listen. From the beauty of the capitol in Charleston to deep within the mine shaft in Beckley, from the revitalization of the Fayette Theatre to the grace of the Charleston Ballet to the Hatfield and McCoy narratives of historian Bill Richardson, stories of families, feuds, struggles and triumphs through the ages are the bedrock that makes West Virginia Wild and Wonderful.
Come along as we attempt to discover who we are and experience a taste of what West Virginia offers to travelers. Hilaire Belloc says, "I have wandered all my life, and I have also traveled; the difference between the two being this, that we wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment." Experience fulfillment in 2015, and discover your roots, your history and the wealth that is buried within these Blue Ridge Mountains. Happy Holidays from Seeing Southern.
Judy and Len Garrison are at home in Farmington, Georgia, just on the outskirts of Dawg country - better known as Athens. Len, an IT manager for a major Atlanta company, and Judy, an editor, author and travel writer, invite you to travel along with them as they explore the best of the South. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit their website at Seeing Southern, and follow them on Twitter at @judyhgarrison , @seeing_southern and LIKE them on Facebook.