A Brief History Of The Glen Ferris Inn.

Hello friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Glen Ferris Inn 22120” and is available for purchase by the instructions at the bottom of the article.

The cold night air gnaws on my exposed skin as I stand outside the welcoming light of the old inn.

To me the Glen Ferris Inn has always been as much a part of the Kanawha River as the rocks that make up the falls. I knew that the building was old but I really didn’t know the history.

It wasn’t really known as “The Glen Ferris Inn” until the 1920s.

There’s evidence that it may have been built as early as 1815 by two unnamed Irishmen. Who later sold it to Aaron Stockton, grandson of Richard Stockton who’s signature appears on the Declaration of independence.

A lot of people think a liquor license was unknown in the USA prior to the age of prohibition in the early 20th century but history shows that Aaron Stockton applied for a license to serve alcohol to guests of the Inn in 1839 when it was known as “Stockton’s Tavern”.

By the 1860s it was the Union Quartermaster’s supply depo and internet research say that lasted until 1861.

My interest in the history of the Glen Ferris Inn was given life when I was told that the old stone wall with the waterfall that I often photograph was the old Stagecoach road’s retaining wall and that the “Stockton Inn” was a major destination along the route.

Image Titled “The Flow Of Peace” all of the photos are my original work and are available for purchase by the instructions at the bottom of the article.

The old Stagecoach road’s was known as the “Midland Trail” and I presume that’s why Route 60 is know by the same name today. It would be an interesting project to trace the old Stagecoach road’s in West Virginia and explore the abandoned settlements reclaimed by the forest today.

In 1874 the Glen Ferris Inn had survived the American Civil War but nearly fell to a problem that plagues our state even today. The industry ( at that time the railroad) simply passed it by and began delivering passengers and their purses to a different hotel on television other side of the Kanawha River. In fact the new hotel ( Named the Kanawha Hotel ) was so close that owners of the Stockton Inn could look across the falls and watch their rivals prosper while their own business failed. I can imagine the heartache of sitting in the majestic Victorian Inn and staring at the unused keys and empty dinning area while listening to the voices of the crowd on the other side. The owners at the time would have dreaded the sound of train approaching.

At some point, I’m unsure of the date, the Stockton Inn was sold to Union Carbide and became known as the The Glen Ferris Inn. The 15 rooms and 2 suites with a formal dinning room and riverside dinning room became lodging for the men who built the hydroelectric plant at Kanawha Falls and the hydroelectric dam at Hawk’s Nest State Park. But fate was not done with extracting a toll for history. The worst industrial tragedy in American history took the lives of residents of the Inn through silicosis. In the early days of the industry the men who dug the tunnel had their lungs destroyed by the rick dust from their tools. Many of them were either African Americans or immigrants ( possibility Irish or Italians) and they are said to be buried in a mass grave near Summersville Lake.

From there there’s a gap in what I could find but the story picks up in 1981 when the Glen Ferris Inn was purchased by Elkem Metals and the hydroelectric plant used to supply the foundry in Alloy, West Virginia.

Then in 1991 then Inn finally achieved historic status. And by 1996 it was owned by Dan and Becky Hill of Glen Ferris who sold it to the current owners Brigadier General Harrison Gilliam and major Thomas Wills in 2017 who have vowed to be caretakers of history and preserve the old Inn for posterity. I’ve never really set foot inside the Inn myself but I do see the cars and kayaks of the lovers of the rivers who come to shoot the rapids and enjoy beauty of the mountains.

A gathering of the Shay Reproduction Roadsters parked outside the Glen Ferris Inn .

I’m sure that I’ve overlooked at least some of the history and since my blog is read by locals who far better versed in the local history than I am it would be great for them to tell what they know or correct any errors in my accounting of the history with a comment below. 😊

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More Thoughts On The Changing Technology And Driving.

Every once in a while I’m transported back in time. I see or hear or smell something that strips away the high tech digital world of the present. On August 4th 2016 I could have sworn that I was passing through some kind of time slip. I have posted about the Shay Reproduction Roadsters before however for those who don’t know these are antique car design with modern modern materials. The Aesthetics of the older vehicles bring to mind thing like the feel of fine leather upholstery and the smell of wood polish. There was a time when people drove for the pleasure of the open road and not just going from point A to point B. There was an age when a person’s time was their own and a craftsman was appreciated for the quality of his work and not just the sheer volume of production. The artistry in the architecture blended with craftsmanship and skilled hand gave life to the machine. Mass production made them affordable but each piece had its own personality. We gave them names and made them members of our families. When the older ones began to break down we learned how to repair the machine and extended it’s lifetime until there was no choice but to let it go. As I look towards the future of the motor car I can see a time when Artificial Intelligence just might have the potential to deepen our connection with the vehicles. I can imagine how smart cameras embedded in car will recognize our faces and the cars will know our names. When it will learn our routine and wish us a good morning as we step out of the house. There will be lots of bells and whistles. There is already cars with Wi-Fi networks to keep us entertained. Advanced warning systems to keep the driver from changing lanes at the wrong time and cars that drive themselves are becoming more and more common. But, in all of the wondrous technology that is on the rise I have to admit that I will miss the simple pleasure climbing behind the wheel just driving.

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Tonight’s Feature Image is available for purchase in sepia, black and white or color. Just message me with the Title “Shay Reproduction Roadsters 2” and let me know what size so I can reply with a quote. You can use the message button on Facebook or the Contact Form on my website.

Lloyds Lens Slideshow.

I have been working on a short Slideshow today. I have a client who wanted to look over a selection of my photos so she can place an order. I really couldn’t find any reason not to share it here as well. 🙂

The Feature image was taken on the way to my day job and this spot is part of my daily life.

A SHAY REPRODUCTION ROADSTER AND A THOUGHT ON DRIVERLESS CARS

I’ve always loved the artistry of older cars and Trucks.  Some people can quickly rattle off the make and model.  They’ll tell you all about the horsepower,  fuel economy and history that went into the vehicle.  I’m not that guy.  I’m the guy that just wants to drive.  And yet there’s something special about early models. The curve of fender.  The chrome and leather along with the fine woodwork created something that was more than the sum of its parts.  Driving a roadster is about the journey more than just the destination.  

Pictured here is a Shay reproduction vehicle based on the 1929 Roadster.  It was made in the 1980s. I think about the world that we are going to live in within the next 20 years.  Will a car even have a steering wheel? More sophisticated doesn’t necessarily mean more perfect.  The melding of man and machine was perfected decades ago in a time when iron and steel merged with flesh and spirit to produce the freedom of an open road.