Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for July, 2014

Peace at the Palace of Gold

Palace of Gold from Rose Garden

Palace of Gold from Rose Garden

Step out of the Appalachian Mountains of Moundville, West Virginia into the Palace of Gold, which reminds many visitors of life in India. “It felt like I was coming home,” described the feelings of one recent guest from New Delhi.

Greeted by Andy Fraenkel, master spiritual storyteller, we were led on an in depth tour of the Palace and grounds. Andy also explained through story, many of the beliefs of the people who built this magnificent structure. Only outside pictures were permitted at the Palace of Gold.

Repair work on Palace of Gold dome

Repair work on Palace of Gold dome

This beautiful golden temple glistens in the sunlight as sunrays catch on the gold coated roof and walls. Construction began here in 1974 with the intention of making a beautiful home for Prabhupada, who founded the Hare Krishna Movement. While Prabhupada did visit the Palace four times during its construction, he never got to live at the Palace due to his death in India two years before it was finished. Upon its completion in 1979, it became a memorial and an instant attraction.

It was decided to build a palace around the original home, adding abundant marble, gems, and gold to make it remind others of similar places in India. This was a huge undertaking and took five and a half years to complete at a cost of $400,000. That may not seem like much for a beautiful palace, but costs were kept low due to volunteer labor of the commune that lived nearby at that time. When the Palace of Gold opened in 1979, 25,000 people were on hand.

 

Rose Garden

Rose Garden

Before entering the Palace of Gold, you will be struck by the beauty of their famous Rose Garden, the perfect place for a time of meditation amongst the beauty and scent of the blossoms. There are over150 varieties of roses plus a hundred water fountains to add to the ambiance, as you bathe yourself in the morning sun.

Lotus Pond

Lotus Pond

A lotus pond is covered with blossoms in this secluded Garden of Time. It’s the perfect place to spot a white swan or duck floating among the lotus. The pathways around the grounds make a peaceful place to walk with nature, and enjoy blossoms from spring through fall. Gorgeous peacocks are frequently seen wandering through the garden as well. From here you can see vistas of three different states.

Now it’s time to discover the inside of the Palace of Gold. Sunshine again plays its role in enhancing the stained glass windows. Sparkling crystal chandeliers reflect inner light from the mirrored ceilings. A Great French Chandelier, over 150 years old, brightens the room so semi-precious stones and pure gold glisten. While it is called the Palace of Gold, there are actually only about 80 ounces of gold used in construction. Gold leaf was applied in very thin sheets, 1/1000″ thick, and brushed onto the walls and ceiling.

Lions guarding the Palace of Gold

Lions guarding the Palace of Gold

As you walk on floors of marble imported from Europe, Asia and Africa,  there are designs on the walls describing the Krishna religion. One wall had several peacock designs as they are a symbol of royalty and bring good fortune. Lord Krishna wears a peacock feather in his hair.

Cows and elephants have their special place also. The cow is revered as a source of food while the elephant is a symbol of wealth as kings rode them during peacetime and wartime. During the 1980’s, an elephant actually stayed on the grounds near the Palace of God, but it didn’t like the cold weather.  So they actually got a semi and sent the elephant to Florida on vacation for the winter. But that expense only happened one year!

The Palace is home to those of the Hindu faith, whose many denominations are all religious manifestations of Dharma. Andy explained, “Each one of us has different unique abilities. Use your talent as an offering to God.”

According to the Dharma teachings: “The path to enlightenment is very simple – all we need to do is stop cherishing ourselves and start cherishing others.”

The Palace of Gold is located at 3759 McCreary Ridge Road outside of Moundsville, WV. Take route 250 South, which is a curvy, mountain road and watch for signs to direct you to the Palace of Gold. It is very well marked.

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Visit Henderson Hall Plantation 19th Century Hoarders

Henderson Hall

Henderson Hall

Look for a hidden treasure across the river from Marietta, Ohio along the banks of the Ohio River. Here a Victorian plantation mansion from nearly two hundred years ago seems to watch over the river between Williamstown and Parkersburg, WV.

Even before Henderson Hall came into being, the Henderson family played a vital role in the Ohio River Valley. Vice-President Aaron Burr and Harman Blennerhassett thought that perhaps the Henderson brothers would help in their attempt to set up a separate nation west of the Alleghenies. Hendersons would not be coerced, called their father’s friend President Thomas Jefferson, and testified in the Burr-Blennerhassett trail in 1807.

Henderson Hall was built shortly thereafter in 1835 by George Washington Henderson and Elizabeth Ann Tomlinson Henderson, grand-daughter of original claimant of Williamstown. This merger of estates encompassed 2600 acres on the eastern bank of the Ohio River. It seemed that everything they touched turned to gold, from the land they purchased, to breeding fine horses, to owners of an oil field boom.

Henderson Indian Mound

Adena Indian Mound

Walking to the house, one of the three Indian mounds on the property is clearly visible. Dating back 2,000 years, Adena mounds appear in several places in the Ohio Valley. Inside the mounds were found skeletal remains and artifacts.

Even though the Henderson family supported the efforts of the Union during the Civil War, they did themselves keep thirty slaves. Some of those slaves actually left through the Underground Railroad, which the Henderson family supported, in Marietta, Ohio.

This well preserved Victorian plantation propels visitors into the past with twenty-nine rooms to explore. All the rooms overflow with memorabilia from the 18th century to the present. It seems the Hendersons kept everything. 250 years of letters and diaries were found in the home – what treasures! Even more impressive is the trail of famous historic figures, who visited frequently.

Front Parlor

Front Parlor

In the front parlor with its gold leaf wallpaper, pictures of Elizabeth and George hang over the mantle of the fireplace. In the picture she wore a hair broach, which was considered mourning jewelry. Having twelve children during their lifetime, six of them died before the age of ten. Elizabeth took a lock of hair from each of those six children to weave into an intricate pattern for her broach, which she always wore. The broach remains on display today in their small museum.

Collections from these 19th century hoarders give visitors a chance to see the changes made in many areas of life. The overwhelming amount of treasures saved, ranges from toys to wedding gowns to beautiful dining room settings. A winding staircase curves up to the third floor ballroom, making the mind wonder how those ladies managed these steep stairs in their flowing gowns.

The original kitchen

The original kitchen

The 1836 kitchen holds household cooking utensils and crockery dating back a couple centuries. This was part of the original smaller house before the 1859 impressive addition. Many of the rusted kitchen utensils can be found stored in the basement today.

When the last family member died in 2007, the historic house was deeded to the Board of West Virginia Oil & Gas Museum. Today they keep the place in repair and have great guides to share the Henderson story.

First school houe in West Virginia

First school houe in West Virginia

The earliest school in the area was here behind Henderson Hall in 1836. Note the teacher’s desk with candle and switch – for pointing and for correcting. Several old books from that time period have been placed on the students’ desk along with slates to practice writing and mathematics. Original equipment includes:  slates, blackboards, and seats. What a thrill to gently touch the slates, which were used by youngsters from the 1800’s.

The Carriage House contains different buggies. Among them is the actual buggy used by the original founders, George and Elizabeth, on their honeymoon to Niagara Falls.

Henderson Hall overflows with treasures too numerous to mention. Hopefully you have now received a taste of history that will whet your appetite for more. Johnny Chapman, John James Audubon, and Stephen Foster always enjoyed their visits here.  Shouldn’t you?

Henderson Hall Plantation is just a few miles off I-77 at the Williamstown, WV exit. Follow Route 14 South, then turn right on Old River Road. Summer hours are noon- 5 p.m. daily.

 

 

Jackson Hole Beneath the Shadow of the Tetons

Welcome to the majestic Tetons.

Welcome to the majestic Tetons

The majestic, 7000-foot-high Teton Range signals arrival in scenic Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which is located on the floor of a valley surrounded by mountains. John Colter was the first white American to view the valley and his reports were viewed with skepticism as people doubted any place could be so beautiful.

Elk Antler Arch

Elk Antler Arch

Town square serves as the main attraction of downtown Jackson Hole, as each corner has an arch composed of hundreds of elk antlers. Each winter, local Boy Scouts gather the antlers from the National Elk Reserve nearby. An auction is held to sell the antlers with proceeds going to the refuge. However, first of importance is maintaining repair work on the arches with any needed antlers.

Downtown hums with the sights and sounds of many gift shops and restaurants. Million Dollar Cowboy Bar featured in many Hollywood movies, Jackson Drug with its old time soda fountain, and the Victorian style Wort Hotel, home of the Silver Dollar Bar,  provided interesting stops during this visit. After an exhausting day, we devoured a delicious Mexican dinner at an old established restaurant, Merry Piglets.

This area abounds with treasures to behold and even a week’s stay would not give one a chance to enjoy them all thoroughly. While the town of Jackson Hole delights many visitors, camping in the foothills of the Tetons gives an entirely different perspective.

Rustic cabin below the Cathedral Group

Rustic cabin below the Cathedral Group

Snake River, which flows from its headwater at Yellowstone River, meanders along the base of the Tetons. The old Cunningham Cabin situated at the foothills of the Tetons seemed like a perfect place to live. Imagine sitting here with your morning cup of coffee or tea and watching the Snake River flow past the towering mountains.

Just outside of town can be found the largest elk preserve in North America – the National Elk Refuge. During the summer months the elk head higher in the mountains, but during the fall and winter, up to 7500 elk can be found here in the basin.

Jackson Hole Ski Resort

Jackson Hole Ski Resort during summer

Jackson Hole Ski Resort contains the longest ski slope in the area, although many slopes exist. The first ski slope, Snow King Ski Area, was developed way back in 1939. Makes you want to return for the winter snows.

At the Menor-Noble Historic District nearby, exploring Menor’s cabin provides a taste of life in the early 1900’s. His white washed cabin was used as a supply store while he ran a ferry across the Snake River. Cost was twenty-five cents for a horse and wagon to cross. In winter when the water was too rough, they crossed on a flat raft-like apparatus using a pulley system.

Museum of Natural History and Art

Museum of Natural History and Art

Tucked away in the foothills of the Tetons, National Museum of Wildlife Art displays spectacular paintings and statues that tell the story of Wyoming wildlife. Frequent spottings of buffalo along the road to the museum, add to the road trip’s delight. The museum also sponsors many musical and informative programs as well. On this particular day a piano duo playing jazz, Keith and Pam Phillips, entertained the crowd.

Camping along the Snake River

Camping along the Snake River

Leaving town, a stop at Jackson National Fish Hatchery provided viewing of trout from 2″ to 12″, ready to place in area lakes and rivers. All National Hatcheries were listed, and included was one from home – Senecaville Fish Hatchery.

Whether you stay in town at one of their many hotels, or camp in the shade of the Tetons, innumerable adventures await in the area of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Just a short drive to the North is the bubbling Yellowstone National Park, which you won’t want to miss.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming can be found on the western border of Wyoming, very near Idaho. This is not a place of major interstate highways, but the drive is beautiful from any direction.

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