THE FROG POND - We Have A Beaten Path?

(07/04/2002)

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 of before.

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
MSZFROGGIE@aol.com


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