Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Blackwater RIver’

Blackwater Falls – A Powerful Experience

The roaring falls of Blackwater River can be heard for miles around. Located near Davis, West Virgnia, these falls have become one of the most photographed sites in the state.

Steps at Blackwater Falls

Steps to Blackwater Falls

When you arrive at the Blackwater Falls sign, you notice that it says 214 steps to the falls. As you start down the first steps, it seems like an endless adventure as group after group of steps appear. Youngsters step gingerly down the steps, counting as they go to see if that number is actually correct. Several viewing platforms have been placed for enjoyable viewing, as well as a spot to rest.

mountain laurel

Mountain Laurel already produces blossoms for next spring.

Along the way, the forest flourishes with mountain laurel plants, already forming blossoms for next season. In the fall, autumn leaves add color to the greenery of the pines.

Posted signs give interesting, helpful information regarding the falls. One sign points out that the walls of the falls are composed of “Salt Sand” used by drillers. This Conoquenessing sandstone strongly resists forces of nature, and forms the canyon walls and Blackwater Falls. This special sand assists in the production of oil and natural gas in West Virginia.

Sandstone began to form here over 230 million years ago as deposits of sediment were deposited in large basins that covered present day West Virginia. Over millions of years, most sediment deposits squeezed and changed the underlying sediment to rock. The large boulders at the base of the falls were once part of the cap rock.

Blackwater Falls

Beautiful Blackwater Falls

The first glimpse of the falls even from afar takes your breath away. When you get closer, you can actually feel the spray from the water on your face. As it descends the falls, the water appears amber, or tea colored as it plunges straight down about sixty feet before it twists and turns down the eight mile long gorge. Since the color appears darker than most waterfalls, it received the label of “black” water. The color results from tannic acid emitted by fallen hemlock and red spruce needles.

Blackwater River flows on.

Blackwater River flows on.

As you watch the bubbling mountain stream at the top of the falls, it suddenly picks up life as it tumbles over the edge, swirling as it goes.But it’s pure pleasure to sit on the deck of the overlook and listen to the powerful sound of the falls with its unending flow. Sometimes during the year, the falls either slow down to a trickle, speed up to a torrent, or even partially freeze over.

Everytime you visit will be a new experience!

Blackwater Falls can be found in northeastern West Virginia near Davis. Natural treasures like this remain off the beaten path so directions vary greatly depending on your direction of travel. Definitely worth the trip!

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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.

-canaan 3 001

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.

Beautiful Autumn Leaves HIghlight Lindy Point

A roadside peek on a cloudy day

A roadside peek on a cloudy day

Every little corner of West Virginia seems to have a beautiful mountain view, and nobody does Autumn better than West Virginia. Lindy Point near Davis, West Virginia, provides a dynamic view in several directions.

Lindy Point Overlook sign

Lindy Point Overlook sign

Heading back a narrow curving road only wide enough for one vehicle, it seems obvious that this is not a heavily traveled area even for tourists. There are only four parking places at the entrance to Lindy Point so it would appear they don’t expect many visitors, but surprisingly several people were met on the trail.

Rough path to Lindy Point

Rough path to Lindy Point

Traveling down a long, secluded path, each step needs to be taken carefully. Many tree branches, briers, and rocks appear on the path, which is basically a black dirt trail, but rather level. There are interesting plants along the way as the trail leads through dense rhododendron bushes. While eyes were open for animals, especially bears, none were spotted.

At places the road was muddy from rains of the past few days, and the black dirt trail turned into a boggy black adventure. There were places where there was no way around due to the heavy brush, so the only way to proceed was to walk right over the murky black bog. This was accomplished by placing the foot flat on top of the mud, one step at a time, and you didn’t sink in…well, at least not too much. A walking stick on this trail was particularly useful and welcome.

Looking over the edge at Lindy Point

Looking over the edge at Lindy Point

Finally we reached the end of the trail to a magnificent view from the overlook. Here you can see 48 acres of the Blackwater Canyon, one of those picture postcard views in all directions, as the valley is ignited with the colors of Autumn leaves. The Blackwater River runs through the bottom, while at the top are unusual, free-standing, rock “chimneys”, which add to the spectacular view. These enormous rocks were pushed up during the formation of the mountains many years ago.

Zoomed View of the river below Lindy Point

Zoomed View of the river below Lindy Point

A young man and his family appeared at the summit and told of his teenage adventures there for frequent picnics.  He remembered the time they were having a party out on the rocks before the platforms were built. One of his friends had too much to drink and fell to his death off the rock into the canyon below. The area was closed for a couple years and then the platform was put in place as a safety measure.

The walk back seemed much shorter and faster, but at the end it was necessary to clean the boggy mud off our shoes before moving on. 

Autumn is a great time to catch the view from Lindy Point. Anytime is beautiful, but the colors of the leaves highlighted its beauty.

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?

 

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