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?