As humans we are hardwired to build. No matter if it’s a child making mud pies or a master tradesman crafting a skyscraper we can observe a meditative like state of mind as that person works. I wasn’t present when the cairn in tonight’s feature image was built but imagine that each stone was specifically chosen with planing and forethought. I imagine that the actual stacking would have involved mentally placing each peace in multiple positions so as to prevent the whole thing from collapsing. In the past I was fascinated with megalithic works. Everywhere you find humans you find large stones arranged by human hands. And of course my favorite was Stonehenge. Everyone has a theory about why it was built and in fairness it has been used for many purposes over the past Five Thousand Years but I have to wonder if it’s simply a work of art. Assembling Stonehenge would have been a massive undertaking but what if like the random hiker stacking stones near Cathedral Falls the builders simply wanted to be remembered? After all, stacking stones is a great way to say “I was here”.
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Driving cautiously down the winding road to the tail waters of Gauley River I think about my Grandfather. He was one of the many men who built Summerville Dam. In the days before the dam, the raging Gauley River destroyed small towns downstream. Near my home is Brown’s Service Station. The Owner once pointed out to me a watermark on the wall of his office from one of the pre-dam floods. I’m guessing that the water had to be 12 feet high in order to make the stain. When it was finally decided that something had to be done a monumental effort was made. There’s a great Video of the men building the Summerville Dam on YouTube. I know that my grandfather was one of the heavy equipment operators but I’ve not been able to recognize him in the video.
Today, the dam not only helps us to control flooding but it’s become a wealth generator to the local economy. The campers and boaters who spend summer on the lake also spend money in town. At the time of this writing, Gauley season is fully open and whitewater enthusiasts are enjoying the rapids as the Corps Of Engineers drain the lake to winter pool levels.
Rafters taking a break on pillow rock below Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park. Image was taken at the extreme range of my 300 mm lens.
The highly oxygenated water below the dam is popular among fisherman too. On any given morning the banks full of lines cast into the eddies in hopes that a trout will come to dinner.
As I stand at the foot of dam and look up I’m in awe of the accomplishment. The tunnel on the left is large enough for a train to pass through and a highway is on top of the dam. Just on the other side of this massive earthen dam is the sunken community of Gad,West Virginia. There is of course the local story of how close Government came to naming this are Gad Dam Lake which would have been a gold mine for memes and internet trolls.
I hope you’ve enjoyed tonight’s post but nothing beats coming to West Virginia for whitewater sports or just relaxing by the water. It’s all made possible by the flood control of Summersville Dam.
If you’ve enjoyed my photos or my writings please let me know in the comments section. Likes and shares on social media are a huge help and will eventually make a way for me to devote full time to sharing a view from my lens.
The soft evening light draws me westward. The golden lines lead me home. Twilight is such a magical time. In the transitional light shadows dance to tune of the whippoorwill and coyote. Heaven’s door opens as angels march out. They go to and fro to the corners of the world in a changing of the guard. Their orders are to watch over the faithful. And if need be, escort them home to rest if one’s work is done. As the setting sun goes over the horizon the golden hue shifts to a crimson glow. It is a reminder of the price paid and the seal set. Travel on and follow the road. Home is just beyond the next horizon.
Tonight’s image was taken in Nicholas County West Virginia. It is Route 129 across the Summerville dam. As I was looking at this picture the yellow lines made think about the golden rule, the narrow path and the way to my heavenly home.
Gently floating on the Kanawha River just above Kanawha Falls the fishermen works his line. I was a bit envious when I spotted him peacefully maneuvering his one man craft across the river. He seemed to be so free. The morning mists were cascading down the mountains and spilling out over the falls as he casts out and slowly retrieves the bait. The ducks on my side of the river slyly slip into the water unsure about the big blue truck that came to an abrupt halt near their perches. As I scan the water a trail of bubbles break the surface. That’s the tell tale sign of big mud turtle lumbering on the bottom. With my camera in one hand and my ever present coffee in the other I step out of the truck to enjoy nature for a few minutes and thank God for the new day. Silently, I wish the fisherman luck as I preserve the peaceful scene in my lens. The ticking of my internal clock urges me to resume my daily commute. The engine purrs and I check the mirror as I pull out taking the peaceful feeling with me as I drive away.
As I stand on the overlook at Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park the storm clouds begin to thicken and turn dark. In spite of the history made here this is a beautiful place where you can enjoy a sense of peace. (I am hoping to get some good photos of the reenactment of the Battle this year. There will be more about the Battle at that time). Behind me a family is playing on the swings but the wind blowing in my ears drowns out the rhythmic squeaking of the playground.
In just a few short weeks they will start draining the lake for winter. That signals the beginning of the rafting season. The Gauley River below will be full of brightly colored kayaks and rafts navigating the Class IV rapids. Mother Nature’s rollercoaster! I have been told bottom of the trail that goes down to the river. In a few places you’ll find virgin timber. I remember seeing the massive stump of an American Chestnut in one of those spots. It was at least ten feet thick when it was alive. Today I just needed to absorb the view and let the wind blow in my face. As I breathe in the peace and tranquility of the mountains the storm clouds offer me the courtesy of a warning shot. The first few large drops of rain land at my feet and I know that it’s time to aim my big blue truck for home.
The hot summer sun slowly sinks into the West and I can feel the coolness of the night sweep across the Lake. On the other shore near the sunset I can hear the doors of cars shutting as the engines pur to life and the swimmers make their way home. The smell of food cooked over an open flame lingers in the air. Small birds begin to skim across the water catching insects. The bird songs soon give way to the chirping of crickets and the occasional sound of a treefrog close to the shore. Deeper into the woods the hair raising cry of a screech owl rings out as he challenges his rivals for territory. Soon the evening star raises over the mountains signaling an end to the day. The headlights of my big blue truck come to life when I use the remote to unlock the door. It’s time to ease back up the gravel road and go process the images of the day.
Some of my most cherished memories are the long walks with my grandfather. He was World War Two veteran who walked with a cane due to shrapnel that was embedded in his leg but that never seemed to slow him down. He would come over to our little house trailer which was next door to his house and invite me to help him check on the cattle. He was also a survivor of the Great Depression and on our walks he would teach me about the things that they used to do to stretch the budget. One their best resources was the wild edible plants that are found in abundance in Appalachia. Pictured here is Chicory. All parts of the plant are edible. The leaves are eaten as a salad green and the roots are roasted and then ground into a coffee substitute. ( no caffeine). The blue petals if Chicory are a natural litmus test. When exposed to an acid they change from blue to red.
In the background of the image is Queen Anne’s Lace. ( the white flowers). Now, you have to be careful about collecting it because there’s also poisonous look-alikes such as hemlock. Queen Anne’s Lace usually has one tiny little blood red flower in the center of all that white. How’s it used? Well, I’m pretty sure that most of the world already knows because it’s simply a wild carrot. The root doesn’t really look like what you buy in the store or raise in your garden. It is small, white and kinda bland. But, it is a carrot none the less.
Most people look at the plants that grow without any help from humans and all that they see are weeds but I see the province of God and hear the voice of my grandfather.