The story below is an excerpt from our May/June 2015 issue. For the rest of this story and more like it subscribe today, view our digital edition or download our FREE iOS app!
From moonshine in Marion and mountain snorkeling to Martinsburg geocaching, Country Roads found something fun for everyone.
Yes, West Virginia Has a Lighthouse
Although West Virginia is landlocked, it does have a lighthouse. The 10-story structure overlooks Summersville Lake in Nicholas County, and its coming to be started in 2009 as a joke.
Canadian Rick Butler was part of a construction crew erecting wind turbines for Beech Ridge Wind Farm in Greenbrier County. The crew was staying at Summersville Lake Retreat owned by Steve Keblesh and his wife Donna. One evening Keblesh kidded Butler that if he could shanghai one of the turbine towers he would make a lighthouse out of it.
Butler’s deadpan reply:“Funny you should say that Mate, we just lost one over the hill.” A 100-foot section of a tower had broken loose and rolled 75 feet down a hill during a torrential rain. It was knocked out of round, rendering it useless.
The rest, including a delivery detour of 100 miles, is history that includes local vocational teachers and students designing and building a 10-story spiral staircase to go inside.
One problem Keblesh did not anticipate was finding a light. He’d planned to buy an antique beacon removed from another lighthouse. But most of those wind up in museums, and those he found on eBay were priced at around half a million.
The answer was another dose of lighthouse serendipity: Jerry and Mary Rader, owners of Rader Airfield across the lake, were helping get the lighthouse registered as an aviation landmark. They dug around in a hangar and found a 1941-vintage Westinghouse rotational beacon.
Electrician Ed Wood removed the energy-wasting 1,000-watt incandescent bulb and replaced it with a 400-watt multi-vapor bulb that casts a beam of light visible for 30 miles. Info: summersvillelakeretreat.com