Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for January, 2015

‘Born Hustler’ Now Creates Marvelous Bronze Statues

If people knew how hard I have had to work to gain my mastery,
it wouldn’t seem wonderful at all.


Alan Cottrill's Sculpture Studio is watched over by Chief Nemocilin, an American Indian who helped blaze the National Road.

Alan Cottrill’s Sculpture Studio & Gallery is watched over by Chief Nemocilin, an American Indian who helped blaze the National Road through Pennsylvania.

Often in life, people return to their hometown area for various reasons. Alan Cottrill came back to Zanesville, Ohio in 2003 to open a Sculpture Studio & Gallery at 110 South 6th Street. Here he found the perfect spot for his artistic designs in the former Zanesville News building, where the words from Michelangelo hang on his wall.

Alan tells about all the busts he made during his first two years.

Alan tells about all the busts he made during his first two years of sculpting.

Like many young people from a poor background on the farm, where his dad was a Meadow Gold milkman, Cottrill explored several careers during his lifetime. As a youngster, he never seemed to run out of ideas or job opportunities. In high school, he sold candy bars at lunchtime, worked as a guard, supervised Y-City umpires, and helped at the Skyway Drive-In.

After trying the college scene, the army, and being a milkman himself, he founded the Four Star Pizza franchise with his dad, and became an international entrepreneur. As he traveled the world, art museums attracted his attention and he began collecting art and paintings – his first being in Bulgaria.

Alan with his Sculptor's Bible, an old anatomy book.

Alan holds his Sculptor’s Bible, an old anatomy book.

Then in 1990 in California, PA, Cottrill touched clay for the first time, realizing his intense passion for creating. He sold his business and devoted himself full-time to becoming the finest figurative sculptor in the world. His studies at the Art Students League and National Academy of Design in New York City developed his abilities.

Cottrill sculpted a brass plaque of the McIntire Library in Zanesville, because he said it opened the world to him. His love of books continues to this day. His Sculptor’s Bible is a well-worn book on anatomy, as he feels the need for accuracy in all of his creations, which display intricate design but most importantly, emotion.

Outside his studio, statues line the street making it a treat to drive past his gallery, but it also gives a desire to know what’s inside. His working studio is on the ground floor, with the gallery above. The bronze sculptures demonstrate his passion and curiosity to always be looking for something new. He feels, “The degree of passion in artwork shows the degree of passion one has within.”

Alan checks his favorite sculpture - two tombstones for him and his wife.

Alan checks his favorite sculpture – tombstones for him and his wife.

Once Cottrill receives an inspiration or a consignment, he then assembles photographs of objects, researches clothing and accessories, and then begins the formation of a clay bust, where he makes the face come to life with emotion. The clay he uses comes from Laguna Clay in nearby Byesville, Ohio.

In order to have quality bronze available, Cottrill, along with his lifelong friend, Charles Leasure, established Coopermill Bronzeworks, Ltd.  All of his pieces are bronzed there and they also do work for other artists.

Woody Hayes sculpture at OSU Center

Thomas Edison Bronze Sculpture will soon be placed in U.S. Capitol to represent Ohio.

Over 400 bronze sculptures are displayed in his Zanesville studio. They range in size from 18 inches to lifesize, which takes about seven weeks to complete. While his favorite piece of work is the tomb sculpture he did for him and his wife, the one that receives the most attention is his Woody Hayes bronzework, which appears in front of the Woody Hayes Center at OSU in Columbus, Ohio.

Bronze Ohio Coal Miner Statue

Bronze Ohio Coal Miners Statue stands at the old railroad station in Byesville.

In nearby Byesville, he sculpted the Ohio Coal Miners Statue, paid for by contributions from those who rode the train over a several year span. His Thomas Edison statue has recently been accepted for the U.S. Capitol; while for Cambridge, Ohio, the Hopalong Cassidy bronze statue is only just begun.

Bicentennial Legacy Monument stands on a mound at Zane's Landing on the Muskingum River.

Bicentennial Legacy Monument stands on a mound at Zane’s Landing on the Muskingum River.

Watch Alan Cottrill at work in his studio in Zanesville, Ohio, where you will find the world’s largest bronze sculpture collection of any living sculptor. If you are lucky, he will share stories of his life and his passion. This amazing sculptor still works seven days a week…but doesn’t start as early anymore!

To discover Alan Cottrill Sculpture Studio, take I-70 exit 155. Drive south a half-mile. Turn right onto Marietta St., then right again onto S. 6th St. The studio is one block ahead on the right. Look for the statues lining the street.


Elakala Trail

View of Elakala Falls from across the valley with State Park Lodge in the upper left hand side

View of Elakala Falls from across the valley with State Park Lodge in the upper left hand side

Although not as forceful as the Blackwater Falls, the Elakala Falls are much longer. Found in the Blackwater State Park near Davis, West Virginia, these falls can first be seen from the Pendleton Overlook. Looking straight across the Blackwater River, the Elakala Falls can be seen on the opposite bank to the right of the State Park Lodge. From this distance it looks like a fine line down the side of the mountain, but in reality it is much larger.

Rugged path to Elakala Falls

Rugged path to Elakala Falls

Now it’s time to head to the other side  and walk down the Elakala  Trail. This is a rather rough trail with no steps, just a mountain path. You must be careful of tree roots and rocks in the middle of the path, but the view is worth it. Elakala Falls is a series of four waterfalls of Shays Run, as it cascades down a canyon wall into the Blackwater River below

View of Elakala Falls from the top

View of Elakala Falls from the top

The first waterfall can be accessed fairly easily so more photographs happen here than at the other three. That first waterfall spills over 35 feet to continue down Shays Run. A wooden bridge there provides an easy means of crossing for an overview, but you will want to go just a little farther to get the best picture. 

Some choose the challenge to continue down to the next waterfall, but jumbled rocks and unsecure footing combine to make it very difficult. Anything beyond the second fall is considered extremely dangerous and not recommended for any but very experienced hikers. No marked trails exist for the other three and the gorge here drops 200 feet.

Bridge over Elakala Falls

Bridge over Elakala Falls

The name for these waterfalls originated from old Native American Indian legends, of which there are several. The one I like best claims that  an Indian princess named Elakala threw herself over the edge of the first waterfall when her warrior scorned her. While it’s impossible to know which legend rings true, this area seems to be a perfect place for those early Native Americans to have lived – near the water and under the many rock shelters present.

Directions to Blackwater State Park travel many scenic routes along the way. These are the clearest directions I have found: Take I-7o E to I-79 S. Stay on I-79 S to Morgantown, WV. At Morgantown, follow I-68 E to Rt. 42 S, Friendsville, MD. Follow to Rt. 219 S through Oakland, MD, to Thomas, WV. At Thomas, take Rt. 32 S to Davis, WV. See what I mean?


Thomas, WV – Historic Railroad Town in Allegheny Mountains

Picture card overview of Thomas today

Picture card overview of Thomas today

Small towns attract my attention as they always have a story to tell. The former hub of railroad activity inThomas, West Viriginia is no exception. Situated on the banks of the North Branch of the Blackwater River, it served as a major railroad stop in the area years ago. All the buildings on Front Street are on one side of the road with the river running along the other side.

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Stores still handle a variety of items.

Built on the side of the Allegheny Mountains, this town was incorporated in 1892. However, it actually received its start in 1880 when Henry and Thomas Davis began building the West Virginia Central & Pittsburg Railroad along the river there.You can already see where the town received its name!  Railroads were needed as easy access to transport natural resources of coal and timber from the Tucker County area.  While the railroad went through several transitions of ownership, the last train rolled through Thomas in 1983.

The business district that remains today is a result of the railroad industry.Today this small town has given real importance to their history by placing informative signs throughout the town. After the advent of the railroad, many people from foreign countries settled here. There were as many as 18 different nationalities, many of them from Europe, which brought with them the European wrought iron design for their balconies.

 One of the informative plaques with a picture of the Schilansky-Rubenstein Building 1906

One of the informative plaques with a picture of the Schilansky-Rubenstein Building 1908

One particular building was constructed back in 1908 by Russian Jewish immigrants, Schilansky and Rubenstein. Schilansky came to the United States as a pack peddler and when he arrived in Thomas continued at that occupation until he had enough money to open a general store and a saloon. Soon he was joined by the Rubenstein family,who he had met in New York.  This stylish Victorian building had a wooden balcony with turned spindles. Both families lived upstairs to conveniently run the general store below.

Their store today

Refurbished store today

In 1906, people from miles around traveled to Thomas to meet all their needs. On a sign posted in town from that era, it states that “in the stores and shops can be found all that humanity could desire in the way of merchandise.”

Today a stroll down the street captures the spirit of those long ago days. Shop owners and signs show small town pride exists in abundance.

Carved wooden bears on the patio of Purple Fiddle

Carved wooden bears on the patio of Purple Fiddle

A popular local establishment today is the Purple Fiddle. Bands entertain nightly here, and it is a great place to quench your thirst with a sarsaparilla drink. Those who hang out here are a unique group of individuals with artistic abilities and stories to tell. Their outside deck has an attractive setting with wooden carved bears watching over the action – one licking an ice cream cone, while another holds a refreshing mug.

Benches with ski backs line the street.

Benches with ski backs line the street.

Stores today hold a wide variety of items from antiques to ski related. Since the town is situated near several ski resorts, skis even form their benches, where visitors can rest while watching the river, traffic and people flow by.

Thomas, WV is located southeast of Morgantown off US 219. This is definitely off the beaten path, but that is what adds to its charm.

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