Archive for the ‘History’ Category

The Wayback Machine: Our Earliest Websites Revealed

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Wayback MachineBy Jay Young

In 2007, Mountain River Tours, Class-VI River Runners and Rivermen joined forces to create Adventures on the Gorge. In 2011, we also welcomed Songer Whitewater to the family. But long before any of these mergers occurred, each company was a thriving river outfitter with its own style of doing things and its own personalities working there.

I recently dug into the Internet Wayback Machine, web.archive.org, to find out what some of our early websites looked like. Here’s what I found:

Rivermen, circa 1998

Mountain River Tours, circa 2000

Songer Whitewater, circa 2001

Class-VI River Runners, circa 2002

(In the case of Mountain River Tours, our history officially goes as far back as 1972, but the kernel of the idea that become MRT really starts with the Turkey Raft. Check it out!)

Declassified: The Greenbrier Bunker

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Greenbrier bunker

By J. Young

I was in school on a sunny Wednesday morning in 1982, when the air raid siren—a desk-sized contraption atop a 50-foot pole blared its shrill song. As I had done countless times before, I put down my dog-eared copy of Lord of the Flies, pushed out my chair and crawled under my desk. I felt a vague fear—the same nuclear angst a lot of kids had back then—coupled with the boredom you’d expect from any 12 year old in a drill, be it fire or Hellfire.

That’s my personal history with the Cold War. As a whole, though, America’s is somewhat more complex. I got to see an odd little slice of it when I toured Project Greek Island, the now declassified congressional fallout bunker underneath The Greenbrier resort. The bunker became common knowledge in 1992 after the Washington Post published an article about its existence. After a three-year decommissioning project, the Department of Defense handed control of it over to The Greenbrier.

I can bore you with statistics, like square footage and where they put all the poop, but you can learn that on Wikipedia. Instead, I’d like to share some of my own observations and musings, post tour…

Web1. The Greenbrier wasn’t just one of President Eisenhower’s favorite retreats. It was also located upwind of any potential Washington, DC nuclear strike and, with decent roads, within driving distance of the Capitol. Congresspeople could get there before Soviet bombers could be over American soil. Obviously, it’s no coincidence that Ike spearheaded construction of the bunker amid his push for a national interstate highway system. In fact, for some time the only complete section of I-64 in West Virginia was between the airport at Lewisburg (which, lo and behold, was built to accommodate even the largest of planes) and White Sulfur Springs, where The Greenbrier sits.

Construction2. For The Greenbrier bunker to be an effective shelter for Congress, its very existence had to be kept secret. The people who guarded that secret were devious—hiding their charge virtually in plain sight. The bunker’s staff doubled as legitimate Greenbrier employees. Even their own families had no real idea why they had been uprooted and moved to West Virginia. Since The Greenbrier technically owned the bunker, it wasn’t on any official books. The federal government hid payments for the facility inside the already large payments it was making to the C&O Railroad, which conveniently also owned The Greenbrier. During construction, the official story was that the underground levels were to become conference space. To maintain the lie, The Greenbrier actually hosted trade shows and expos within the bunker. With careful camouflage of the enormous blast doors behind fake walls and the guts of the facility buried deep behind doors festooned with “High Voltage” signs, visitors were clueless. People held business meetings in what would have become the shadow House and Senate chambers should Breshnev ever get punchy after one too many vodka shots—and they never even knew it.

3. As you approach the entrance to the bunker, you step into a horribly decorated foyer designed specifically to make you want to move through quickly. That’s part of the camouflage—those in the know didn’t want anybody else examining the fake walls too closely. The only thing of interest in the room is a large painting depicting the fall of Rome. Heh. See what they did there?

Dorm

4. Informed as I am solely by bunkers I’ve seen on TV and in movies, I expected to walk through a giant blast door and into room after room of opulence where Congresspeople sip cognac and smoke cigars while the rest of us burn in a nuclear wind. What I saw instead was a giant blast door and room after room of shockingly spartan quarters and meeting rooms. Imagine living in an RV with nine other people, and everything inside it is battleship gray. Ugh, right? Now imagine that times 100… except the RV doesn’t stop and you can’t roll down a window for 60 days. Oh, and everybody you know who isn’t in the RV is dead.

5. Given that this is not the only declassified government fallout bunker in existence, I have to wonder how many more of them there are. Where does Congress go in the biggest of emergencies now (since they’re not coming to The Greenbrier anymore)? Where do Supreme Court justices go? The President? Katy, our tour guide has a notion that there may be more, as yet still classified, facilities—all around 250 miles from DC, all upwind and all away from major population centers.

On the ride back to Adventures On the Gorge, I thought about that a lot. I asked myself, “Self… if you had to hide a bunker where would you put it?” Let’s consider what we know. First, the previous classified bunker was hidden rather well in plain sight. That M.O. worked quite well for three decades. Second, it took the DoD three years to clear all of its stuff out of the bunker, but the really big things, like generators, water tanks and diesel tanks—essentially some of the infrastructure for, um, a bunker, are still there. And here’s the kicker: right now, much of the bunker is still closed to the public, ostensibly because an obscure arm of CSX, called CSX Intellectual Property leases it from The Greenbrier as a high-security data storage facility. In other words, just as when the bunker was still classified, the public is routinely invited in… but not all the way in.

The answer washed over me like a decontamination shower. The new Congressional bunker must surely be in the one place nobody would ever look for it: right under the old Congressional bunker and—still—right under our noses. (This is fun!)

Long after the Berlin Wall (and that old air-raid siren behind my school) came down, I walked out of Project Greek Island and wondered: if the bombs had fallen, would Senators and Representatives have been the lucky ones, with concrete and steel over their heads? Or would it have been me with naught but a classroom desk? I mean, can you imagine more than 500 men and women and their aides—who disapprove of each other only slightly less than you disapprove of them—locked together in a concrete labyrinth for 60 days?

Lord of the Flies, indeed.

Do I recommend The Greenbrier bunker tour? Heck, yes, especially if, like me, you’re fascinated with odd tidbits and dark corners of history. You can find out more about bunker tours at that link a couple sentences back, or just call 855-225-6739 to book a reservation. The cost is $30 for adults or $15 for kids aged 10-17.

Author’s note: I’m not prone to conspiracy theories, and I don’t really believe that there’s a classified Congressional bunker under the declassified Congressional bunker. I’m certain it’s really located underneath the Summit Bechtel Scout Reserve in Mt. Hope. ;)

The Silence of the River Gauges

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

IMG_0776 copyBy J. Young

Deep in Southern West Virginia on the bank of the New River next to a nearly empty former coal town called Thurmond (population: 6), there is a river-level gauge. Nestled in the brush on a steep slope by the water’s edge, the gauge quietly measures the amount of water flowing past that point on the river every second. At predetermined times throughout the day, it faithfully and robotically transmits the data to an Internet server, where the information populates an algorithm on the USGS website (waterdata.usgs.gov). Various other websites then mine that data to display it to their constituents and, voila, the river level becomes public knowledge.

In every sense, that data makes hundreds of people a day safer than they would be without it. The entire New River whitewater rafting industry—as well as private boaters, fishermen and more—rely daily on the data transmitted from the lonely little gauge to know river conditions before they get there. But on Sunday, March 31, 2013, the gauge suddenly went silent. The ensuing outcry from those who ply the river, however, was deafening.

According to a notice dated March 5 on waterdata.usgs.gov, “The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) will discontinue operation of up to 375 streamgages nationwide due to budget cuts as a result of sequestration.” This is a little misleading, however, since the USGS hasn’t paid to operate the Thurmond gauge in more than seven years.

“Years ago, the USGS told us that the Thurmond gauge was surplus to their needs,” said Debbie Darden, assistant superintendent of the National Park Service’s New River Gorge National River. So, the NPS began to pick up the tab. Astonishingly, though, nobody knows for certain what costs so much—the price tag is currently more than $17,000 per year.

17k-01Let’s pause so you can absorb this new information. Remember the lonely little gauge tucked into a hillside next to the water? The USGS charges the NPS more than $17,000 per year to keep transmitting its data. That’s not the cost to actually operate the gauge—the gauge does that automatically. (In fact, the data it collected while it was “silent” is now readily available on the USGS’ Thurmond page.) That’s their fee to collect the data and post it online, and presumably for ongoing maintenance.

And the price tag was chained to an elevator. “$17,000 seems like a lot to us too,” said Darden, “and it was going up by $500 per year. It was actually $17,400 this year and next year it would be $17,900.” Once the sequester hit the NPS, “We felt like we were paying so much for this gauge, and we just couldn’t support it.”

Because the Thurmond gauge is so important to so many people, nobody really believed that the USGS would actually turn it off. So, despite the warning, the silent gauge took a lot of people by surprise. “I had people from Ohio, Maine, North Carolina—all over—calling me to see what the river was running,” said Bobby Bower, who heads West Virginia Professional River Outfitters or WVPRO, an industry association. He pointed out that the Thurmond gauge also has an economic impact. “People who don’t live here know what level they like to run it at. They check that gauge and if they like the info, it actually brings them into the area.”

The uproar among river guides, private boaters and fishermen was instantaneous. ”That morning, guides and river managers were coming up to me absolutely incensed,” said Dave Arnold, one of the founders of Class-VI River Runners and a senior manager at Adventures On the Gorge. “They wanted to know if I could do anything, so I immediately emailed Congressman Rahall’s office.”

Nick Rahall was instrumental in the New being designated a National River and in the formation of the Gauley River National Recreation Area. His work on behalf of the commercial rafting industry has been tireless. Exactly 24 hours later, Arnold received a response of only five words: “We are all over this.” Within days, he also received word that the USGS would begin transmitting Thurmond data again.

The story of 2013′s Gaugegate, does not end there, however, for the lonely gauge’s reprieve is temporary. The USGS has promised, one, to leave the gauge on until the end of September, two, that they would reduce the fee for operating it to $14,400/yr, and three, that they would match 1/3 of the total price, i.e., half what the whitewater community can collect on its own. The NPS agreed and added a third. In other words, if boaters and the commercial rafting community come up with $4,800/yr, the NPS will match it and so will the USGS to keep the gauge on and transmitting.

But the price tag is still high, and private boaters and many in the rafting industry are still asking, “Why does it cost so much?” Answers are, unfortunately, few and far between.

The end game of Gaugegate could turn out a number of different ways. Option 1 as far as the NPS is concerned is to pool resources and continue operating the Thurmond gauge. Other options, while intriguing, may not include automated data about whether the river is actively rising or falling, which is every bit as important as a snapshot of the current level.

Let’s hope the lonely little gauge at Thurmond stays busy for a long time to come. Next time you float by, give it a wave.

Eagle Struck by Train in New River Gorge—Survives!

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

New River Gorge Bald EagleBy J. Young

A tense 48 hours for personnel at Three Rivers Avian Center, the National Park Service and countless volunteers ended happily this week after half of the New River Gorge’s only known nesting pair of Bald Eagles was struck by an Amtrak train and feared dead.

Amtrak personnel reported the strike of the bird, affectionately named Whitey, on the morning of Sunday, March 17 to Raleigh County 911, who in turn reported it to the NPS. Within minutes, Three Rivers Avian Center founders, Wendy and Ron Perrone, plus several volunteers responded and walked the tracks from Brooks Island to Sandstone Falls, but could find no trace of him.

There could not have been a worse time for Whitey to have perished. Eagles typically share nest duty, so the female can break to feed, so volunteers set food out only a short distance from the nest in the hopes she might occasionally leave to eat. Even so, without a mate, the group did not expect the eggs to survive.

After more than two days of hand-wringing worry, the group finally spotted Whitey returning to the nest, where his mate, Streaky, waited upon the pair’s third ever clutch of eggs. The Avian Center believes the bird may have been badly stunned and took shelter in the brush to recover.

Three Rivers staff and volunteers will continue to monitor the pair and set food within easy distance of the nest. For the complete story, click here.

Would you like to see Bald Eagles soaring above the New River? The Gorge has several birds now, and you are almost assured of seeing at least one on our Upper New River trips, which are perfect for families with children as young as 6. And to celebrate the launch of our 2013 Brochure, get $20 off per person if you book before Friday, March 29 at 5 PM!

The REAL Anniversary of the New River Gorge National River?

Monday, January 28th, 2013

By J. Young

In 1978, the federal government designated the New River Gorge as a National River. Encompassing more the 70,000 acres of land along 53 miles of a rugged, rapid-choked northbound waterway, what we now simply refer to as “the New River Gorge” is one of the nation’s most prominent outdoor playgrounds. The NRG now hosts hundreds of thousands of adventure seekers every year from around the globe, including many of our staff, some of whom even relocated here to be close to it.

That makes the NRG 34 years old. But the story of this national park goes back further—some say to the day the legislature of the state of West Virginia decided that, hey, this really should be official. And that was 50 years ago today.

On January 28, 1963, the West Virginia House of Delegates passed Resolution no. 9, which states unequivocally it’s intent to encourage, “the speedy development of the New River Gorge Area into a national playground by the federal and state governments and by the citizens of West Virginia.”

The House further resolved, “That a copy of this resolution be transmitted by the Clerk of the House of Delegates to President John F. Kennedy, the Area Redevelopment Administration, United States Senator Jennings Randolph, United States Senator Robert C. Byrd, Congresswoman Elizabeth Kee, Congressman John Slack and Governor W. W. Barren, and be released to various state news media for disseminating the message to citizens of West Virginia.”

Given the state of the New River Gorge today, 50 years later, Resolution 9 was especially prescient. What do you think it will look like in another 50 years?

Hawks Nest Dam April Fools Joke

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Hawks Nest Dam

ATTENTION: This was an April Fool’s Joke. To our knowledge, Hawk’s Nest Dam will be where it is for a long time to come. Please accept our apology for any inconvenience this caused.

By Jay Young

In 1936, Union Carbide completed work on Hawk’s Nest Dam, about 4 miles downstream of where the New River Gorge Bridge currently stands. The accompanying construction project, to divert water via tunnel from the New River at the Dam to a power plant some four miles downstream, is on record as the worst industrial disaster in the history of the United States. Congress proclaimed the death toll from acute silicosis at 476, but unofficial estimates are far higher, reaching into the thousands.

In so far as modern-day whitewater rafters are concerned, however, there was another effect. The Hawk’s Nest project de-watered four miles of whitewater downstream, which boaters unaffectionately call “the Dries,” and forever submerged four more miles of whitewater upstream, which we now call Hawks Nest Lake.

Forever, that is, until spring of 2013.

“I’m sure going to celebrate tonight,” said Jennifer Horowitz, chairperson of West Virginia Professional River Guides, or WaVe PRO. “Achieving the removal of Hawk’s Nest Dam is the culmination of years of effort and lobbying. I especially want to thank Conservation America and Congressman Holt.”

Holt, a Republican Rep from WV, is himself partially responsible for the creation of the New River Gorge National Scenic River, which will take control of the New River Gorge downstream of the current Dam site on June 1 of this year.

So what does this mean for rafting guests of Adventures On the Gorge brands—Songer Whitewater, the Rivermen and Class VI-Mountain River? “I’m sure we’ll have new rafting trips available,” beamed AOTG CEO, Paul Buechler. “We still don’t know exactly what we’ll offer, but you can probably expect a Lower-Lower New River Trip that puts in at Fayette Station. And I guess we’ll start called what’s now the ‘Lower New’ the ‘Middle New.’ A lot depends on what the rapids are like. They haven’t been seen, much less boated, since the 1930s.”

Adventures On the Gorge has also obtained the rights to 37.5 tons of rubble from the destroyed dam, which we plan to use to build a retaining wall in our new pool, Canyon Falls Swimming Hole.

While we here at Adventures On the Gorge are ecstatic about the move, to be fair, not everybody in the area is as psyched. The river bed immediately below the Dam has become a favorite among local rock climbers who practice a subset of the sport called “bouldering.” When bouldering, climbers scale climbs that, while short, are also typically harder than longer roped routes. Unfortunately, the Hawk’s Nest boulders will almost certainly be submerged. “You know, it’s cool that the boaters are going to get their river back,” said Roger Jones, President of the New River Alliance of Rock Climbers, or NRARC, “But for us, there’s not a lot of upside.”

Head of AOTG’s Cliffside Climbing & Rappelling, James Baylor, himself a former raft guide and current river rescue instructor, has mixed feelings. “This is so weird,” he said.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue, however, it’s hard to deny that this will thoroughly rearrange the outdoor recreation landscape in the New River Gorge. Removal of the Hawk’s Nest Dam is tentatively scheduled to begin on February 1, 2013.

PS: April Fools!

The Story of Stories

Monday, March 12th, 2012

WV StorytellersBy Shea Anderson

Storytelling is a powerful connector. It connects people, ideas and cultures and can link the past and present. The West Virginia Storytelling Guild helps connect the Mountain State to this important tradition.

“Stories remind us of our shared humanity,” said Susanna Holstein, an original and current board member of the West Virginia Storytellers Guild. “It’s a bonding experience. When I tell stories, strangers start sharing and talk to me like they know me. And that’s because they do.”

Holstein said different stories are appealing for different reasons, and part of the art of storytelling is finding what the audience is looking for. She said the guild, with about 50 to 60 members statewide, is a good way to bounce ideas off of others and develop stories in a way that captivates audiences.

“Some stories are funny, and everyone likes to laugh,” she said. “Ghost stories are haunting and eerie and make you wonder. Folk tales talk about overcoming adversity. Everyone can relate to loneliness and feeling like the outsider, and most people understand that love conquers all.”

A founding member of the guild, Karen Varaunch, said practicing and refining storytelling techniques is another important function of the guild.

“You have to invest yourself into a story,” she said. “You work a lot on honing it. It becomes a part of you in a way. But I could sit in a room for three years practicing violin, and I’d be a musician. If I sit in a room talking to myself, I’m not a storyteller, because I didn’t have an audience. Storytelling is an experience that transcends reading or watching a film.”

A performer with an acting background, Varaunch said the audience is key. But she has had unexpected consequences of the power of her stories. During her portrayal of losing a husband to coal mining, a woman left the room crying because she’d recently lost her father in the mines and was touched by the message. Ten years later, the woman approached Varaunch to tell her she loved the piece.

“The thing about a live performance is that you never know,” Varaunch said. “You can lose them in a second, or they can come in not expecting to like it and they do. It can all change, and I’ve had it all happen. If I can have people listening silently and intently, I love it.”

The guild usually has about 5 to 6 performances per year, including a tent at the Vandalia Gathering in Charleston and appearances at the state book festival. They also have an annual gathering for members, which includes workshops and a storytelling concert showcasing various techniques and styles.

“Since the first person drew a picture on a wall, we’ve been telling stories,” Varaunch said. “A modern storyteller is anyone who uses any technique they have. Steven Spielberg is a storyteller.”

And it’s not just for kids, she stressed. Stories are used to pass on culture and communicate emotions.

“It’s important to keep in touch with where we came from and who we are,” Holstein said. “We may be different and come from different social backgrounds,” but stories remind us of our common ground.

The West Virginia Storytelling Guild website includes bios of the members, detailing their storytelling styles and specialties. Anyone wanting to join the WV Storytellers Guild should e-mail Varaunch. The annual dues are $15.

What’s your favorite personal story to tell? And when you tell it, what do you do to draw in your audience?

The Legend of Five Dollar Frank

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Five Dollar FrankBy Angela Sundstrom, photo courtesy of Dale Payne

“Can you hear what they’re saying?”

There is nothing more terrifying than being 9 years old, having your pilot take out his hearing aide, hold it to the navigation radio, and utter those words. You soon realize the airplane currently serving as your gateway to the sky has abruptly, and without warning, begun to turn sideways. Then, as if you weren’t already in shock, the door flies open. Rushing wind. Rickety panels. That sinking in the pit of your stomach. Well this can’t be good. What next? A nosedive, hurling ever so close to the landscape far below? Surely the end is near. There’s no way we’re getting out of this one, right? Then, like an answer from above, the plane levels out and the door closes. Everything is back to normal. Well, everything other than the jubilant cackles of an older gentleman laughing from the front of the plane. It’s enough to make any kid have trust issues with pilots indefinitely. Unless, of course, that pilot was the beloved “Five Dollar Frank.”

Frank Thomas, nicknamed “Five Dollar Frank” for his highly economical fee of only $5 per trip, flew tourists and locals alike on sightseeing excursions of the New River Gorge for years. Thomas became a local celebrity in Fayetteville for his charismatic nature and mischievous pranks. However, he was probably most noted for his plane, a Cessna 172.

His path to aerial adventure started around World War II. Though he never served time in the military, Thomas found airplanes were simply “his thing.” There are many tales of hijinks such as the one detailed above from our very own AOTG administrative assistant, Michelle Rodriguez. Known for practical jokes, Thomas was also one of the few people to fly a plane under the New River Gorge Bridge. He wanted guests to walk away with an experience to share the world over.

Sadly, Thomas passed away in 2001 leaving behind quite the legacy of flights and delights. Personally, I never rode shotgun with him in that Cessna 172, childhood fears getting the best of me. However, I grew up only a few miles from his airport and seeing that wobbly old plane glide over my house multiple times a day was just part of life.

Though it’s difficult to picture anyone else bringing Frank’s airport to life the way he did, recent years have proven that theory wrong. From sky diving to bi-planes, Frank’s former airport is once again thriving, but more on that later. This is the time to celebrate a unique individual who brought his passion to the masses.

Want to know more about Five Dollar Frank? Search for him on YouTube. There are several superb videos featuring his midair escapades, and here’s a particularly good one of Frank reciting poetry Shakespeare would envy.

For something a little more in depth, hear it from the man himself in the book It Is This Way With Men Who Fly, by Frank T. Thomas documenting his life and his legacy in the airways high above our land of adventure.

And if you want to fly now… maybe even barnstorm a loop or two… check out Wild Blue Adventures for a once-in-a-lifetime flight over the New River Gorge in a World War II bi-plane!

Gad, West Virginia: Population 0

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

By Jay Young

“Anybody want to go to Gad?” I asked among the office folk at AOTG.

Summersville Lake was drained to its ten-year low for the dam inspection, and I wanted to see the town that got flooded when the Army Corps completed Summersville Dam. To an amateur historian like me, Gad seemed enigmatic… maybe even a little romantic… Visions of half-weathered homes and churches filled my mind, populated by the spirits of giggling children and stern-faced old men on tractors. The chance to form a tangible connection with them was too much to resist, and since I needed blog content anyway, it was full steam ahead.

Before I could go to Gad, however, I had to know where it was. I Googled various words and phrases until I finally found historical maps of West Virginia. A scan of Nicholas County from 1920-ish showed me Gad, and comparing that to a modern Gazetteer, I narrowed her probable location to a patch of lake bed the size of a few football fields. And good news! It was right next to Summersville Marina. I could probably see it without even getting out of my truck.

I pulled into the Marina and immediately began to scan the lake bed for buildings, foundations, old buses, whatever—as though the ghosts of Gad might call out, “Hey! We’re here! Gad is here!”

I saw little but mud and rocks.

I parked and got out. The Marina was desolate. Floating docks rested in the silt, and every boat was gone for the winter. Empty as the lake itself, Sarge’s Dive Shop sat a silent vigil over nothing.

I scanned the lake bed for any sign of Gad. I saw boulders… mud… a bit of trash… an old NPS road gate…

Wait—what? This isn’t NPS property, and just what is a road gate doing in the middle of the lake? I grabbed my camera and trotted out into the muck.

When I got there, the “road gate” was something else entirely—I’m not really sure what. Nonetheless, welcome to Gad… population me!

There’s little left of the town. In fact, I think what I did find—one foundation next to a strange steel something or other—is high enough up the hill that it probably breathes air every winter. Any lower and it might have been covered in silt.

AOTG marketing guru, PJ Stevenson, can clearly recall visiting Gad when she was in her teens and seeing much more than what I saw. Well, decades of silt buildup will do that to a town. And yet, I’m left wondering… what was Gad like when it was alive?

Hmmm…

Fayette Station: a Steep & Winding Bit of New River Gorge History

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Tunny Hunsaker Bridge above Fayette Station RapidBy Jerry Seymour and Jay Young

At Adventures On the Gorge we’re midway through a promotion we call Countdown to Crazy. Half sale, half contest, participants can enter to win a $1000 gift certificate by booking lodging and/or activities for the winter 2011/2012 season, or they can submit a blog post. Needless to say, the guest-authored blog content has been rolling in and some of it is quite good! Here’s one that Jerry Seymour, a guest of ours from way back, wrote.

My best adventure in/on the gorge was eons ago. The Bridge had just opened and a friend and I decided to go check it out. We slept in the car and drove down the old road to the old bridge and climbed all over the gorge and then drove across the new bridge. The new bridge was impressive, but the old winding road and riveted bridge were more fun. We had a blast! I’d love to make it back up for bridge day and some rafting soon.

The winding road and riveted bridge Jerry wrote about are Fayette Station Rd. and the Tunney Hunsacker Bridge, and as he can probably tell you, both are integral parts of our local coal history. In fact, if you’re at Adventures On the Gorge and looking for something fun, educational and free to do, a visit to Fayette Station is a great option. If you park before crossing the Tunny Hunsaker Briedge and walk upstream along the tracks (which is illegal), you’ll come to a great little set of ruins after about 200 meters. You can also listen to the fantastic Fayette Station Road Audio Tour as you wind in and out of the 900′-deep New River Gorge.