By Suzanne Mazer Stewart|
Recently, I loaned a very interesting little book from my local library. The
title was "Off the Beaten Path in West Virginia." It was one of a series, one
from each state I would presume. Anyway, it was a guidebook to some of the
lesser known, but still interesting sites and attractions in the state. It
was rather informative. I even learned of an event near here I'd never heard
That little book got me to thinking about a few things. The first of which
was of my own favorite "little known" spot in our fair state. Now, I don't
know if anyone out there has ever heard of Moatsville, WV. It's sort of like
Frogpond. You've got to know it's there, almost, to know it's there. I do
believe it's listed on a few maps, but I'm not really certain. It's along the
Tygart River, ABOVE the dam at Grafton.
Now that "above" makes all the difference. You see, this is the river as God
made it, wild, free, beautiful. I can just imagine the first settlers coming
upon that stretch of wild, white water, the banks and river bed strewn with
boulders the size of your average cabin. Today, there's a little two-lane
West Virginia sidewalk of a road that runs along the river. You can pull off
and park in many locations. I don't know who owns the land, but they don't
seem to mind if you stop for the day and have a swim or a picnic or put your
kayak in the water and point it downstream towards the rapids. No one seems
to care if you have a campfire on a rock bigger than your living room out in
the middle of the river. It's truly a free and beautiful place to visit.
Brian and I were married out there on one of those huge rocks, with the water
swirling all around. A prettier cathedral I don't think exists.
I don't think the writers of the book got far enough off the path, if you ask
me. The author's notes listed them as being a husband-wife team from
Washington, DC. They own a little piece of land out in the Eastern Panhandle.
They travel the state a good bit. Still, I didn't find one set of directions
that read "turn right at the coon hounds" or "left past the burnt chimneys."
Most of the attractions listed in their book don't require you to leave the
paved roadway behind. Apparently, the West Virginia they know so well isn't
the one I know. I wonder if they could even find Moatsville and "my" river.
The other thing I got to thinking about was that saying West Virginia has a
"beaten path" is a bit on the silly side. Of course, we DO have widely
recognized and well-known attractions and places; Canaan Valley's ski
resorts, Charleston's Capitol, Wheeling and Charles Town's racetracks, all
well-known and well-visited. I suppose some of our state parks are widely
used by out-of-staters, as well. But most of the West Virginia I know and
love doesn't even make it on the maps drawn up in Charleston. It's the West
Virginia of back roads and small towns, places like Frogpond and Hur, the
"runs" and "licks" that make up the last part of our road names. My West
Virginia consists of small, narrow hollows and winding ridge lines. I like it
that way, off the beaten path.
I'd like to hear from some of you out there, hear about your favorite "off
the beaten path, out of the way" place. We have so many wonderful, beautiful
places that we can share among the neighbors, without the world beating a
path to our doors. Most of them can't find us anyway.
You may contact Suzaane at