Charlottesville To Belle, West Virginia
Walmart Parking Lot
October 9, 2022
I made this wanderabout on Friday.
It felt great to get back on the road. A beautiful sunny afternoon for driving with what I thought was a surprising amount of fall (muted) colors for early October.
Check out this highlighted portion of my drive for fun names of towns:
This was the first time I drove this route during my wanderabout. I have been to the Greenbriar a couple of times for work-related functions; always surprises me how charming White Suphur Springs is.
It was a beautiful early evening drive in West Virginia. Lewisburg is a pretty little town -- reminded me of Sheperdstown with its bustling downtown.
Another unusual town name -- "Sam Black Church."
Thought this name was perfect for a cemetery.
This part of West Virginia is so different geographically from the northern part of the state. Rolling mountains/hills and pastures.
As I wrote about in an earlier post I came across some fun names of towns in West Virginia.
More about some of the towns I drove through:
White Sulphur Springs is a city in Greenbrier County in southeastern West Virginia, United States. The population was 2,231 at the 2020 census. The city emblem consists of five dandelion flowers and the citizens celebrate spring with an annual Dandelion Festival. Its nickname is “Spa City” and its motto is “Home of the Greenbrier Resort.
White Sulphur Springs grew in the first half of the nineteenth century as the southern "Queen of the Watering Places". The springs resort first became the standard summer destination for wealthy Virginia Low Country residents seeking reprieve from heat, humidity, and disease of the "sickly season". As its popularity increased and it gained status as a socially exclusive site, the springs attracted elite guests from all over.
The resort, now known as The Greenbrier, remains one of the country's most luxurious and exclusive resorts. For many years, Sam Snead was the resort's golf pro. The resort has another significant place in golf history; in 1979, it hosted the first Ryder Cup to feature the current competitive setup of the United States and European sides. Golf in the United States began near White Sulphur Springs when the Montague family founded Oakhurst Links in 1884, making it the oldest organized golf club in the country. In 2010, the Greenbrier hosted the inaugural PGA Greenbrier Classic.
In 1992 The Washington Post reported that, during the Cold War, the resort had been the site of a "bunker", the Emergency Relocation Center known as Project Greek Island, which was intended to house and protect the U.S. Congress in the event of a nuclear attack.
The Montague family founded Oakhurst Links in 1884, making it the oldest organized golf club in the country.
In June 2016, there was a historic severe flood in West Virginia that impacted White Sulphur Springs.
The Greenbrier also currently serves as the location for training camp for the Houston Texans.
Lewisburg is a city in Greenbrier County, West Virginia, United States. The population was 3,930 at the 2020 census. It is the county seat of Greenbrier County.
Lewisburg is named after Andrew Lewis. In 1751 Lewis, as a young surveyor, established a camp near the spring behind the present courthouse. This spring has been known as the Lewis Spring since that time. During Pontiac's Rebellion in 1763, Native Americans completely destroyed two of the early European settlements in Greenbrier County, killing the men and carrying off the women and children. This raid virtually eliminated all of the earliest settlers in the county. The Native Americans were primarily Shawnees, and (according to undocumented tradition) were led by the famous leader Hokoleskwa, or Cornstalk.
By 1770 a fortified encampment called Fort Savannah was established at the Lewis Spring. In 1774, Governor Dunmore of Virginia instructed then-Colonel Andrew Lewis to gather "willing and able men" to go to the great Kanawha River and stand against the Native American forces that were attacking the Greenbrier Valley. In what became known as Lord Dunmore's War, over 1,490 men were assembled, some at Fort Pitt at present-day Pittsburgh, and others at Fort Union, on the site of present-day Lewisburg. These recruits included Lewis's brother Charles, and others which history books refer to as one of the most remarkable assemblages of frontier leaders in American history. Thirteen were men of political and military distinction. Lewis's army marched down the New and Kanawha Rivers to the Ohio River, where they intended to cross over and invade the Ohio Country, which was the home of the Shawnees. The Native Americans, led by Cornstalk, attempted to cut them off at the mouth of the Kanawha, where they fought an inconclusive battle that came to be known as the Battle of Point Pleasant.
When the town of Lewisburg was formally laid out in 1780, Matthew Arbuckle, Sr. was the first settler. Among Lewisburg's first trustees was Col. John Stuart (1749-1823), a Revolutionary War commander who surveyed and settled the area and is known locally as the “Father of Greenbrier County”. The land on which the first county courthouse, and the Old Stone Church in Lewisburg, are situated was donated by Stuart. Lewisburg was formally established in 1782 by an act of the Virginia General Assembly. The original trustees were Samuel Lewis, James Reid, Samuel Brown, Andrew Donnelly, John Stuart, and Archer Mathews. To accommodate Virginians west of the mountains, several Virginia courts sat in Lewisburg, where Patrick Henry once successfully defended a client accused of murder. The town and the surrounding farms prospered and a number of spas and resort hotels were established at some of the outlying mineral springs.
During the Civil War a number of engagements were fought in and around Lewisburg. Several of the present buildings in town were used as hospitals and barracks by both sides in this conflict, and bullet marks can still be seen in some today. The Virginia Supreme Court library, which was located in Lewisburg and served as the Greenbrier County Library until 2008, was used as a hospital and has preserved a section of wall with soldiers' graffiti.
In the mid 20th century, the Lewisburg area was home to several children's summer camps. Camp Ann Bailey, (named after Revolutionary War scout Anne Bailey) was located on the Greenbrier River. This Girl Scout camp was integrated in the 1950s thanks to the efforts of Charleston civil rights activist Elizabeth Harden Gilmore. The camp operated between 1927 and 1974, when it was closed to permit construction of Interstate 64. A boys' camp, Camp Shaw-Mi-Del-Eca, founded in 1929, was also located on the river. The two camps held joint activities, such as dances, with another nearby girls' camp, Camp Alleghany.
In 1978, a 236-acre area in the heart of Lewisburg was designated a National Register Historic District.
Today, Lewisburg is home to the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, one of 29 osteopathic medical schools in the United States and one of three medical schools in West Virginia.
In 2011, Budget Travel said that Lewisburg came in first in online voting, which closed Friday, for the designation of “ Coolest Small Town.” The town of nearly 3,500 people finished more than 11,000 votes ahead of Astoria, Ore. More than 437,000 total votes were cast for 20 towns across the nation.
As the winner of the "Coolest Small Town" title, Lewisburg was featured with Astoria and the other top vote-getters in Budget Travel's September 2011 issue.
The town's annual chocolate festival, its proximity to beautiful mountains, and its own Carnegie Hall were some of the highlights cited by Lewisburg's supporters.
"It's been really great to see how it brought everyone in the county together," bureau exective director Kara Dense told The Register-Herald. "Everyone says this is a great thing. There's a lot of West Virginia pride wrapped up in it."
Mayor John Manchester thanked Lewisburg supporters, and also noted that the Coolest Town designation is a victory for the state.
Clayton, N.Y.; Eureka Springs, Ark.; and LaPointe, Wis., respectively, rounded out the top five vote-getters.
Boomer is a census-designated place (CDP) in Fayette County, West Virginia, United States. Boomer is located on the north bank of the Kanawha River, 2 miles southeast of Smithers. Boomer has a post office with ZIP code 25031. As of the 2010 census, its population was 615.
The community takes its name from nearby Boomer Branch Creek.
The Boomer Coal and Coke Company operated four drift opening mines in Boomer Hollow during the early 1900s. The mine employed a large number of locals, to include many Italian immigrants who settled in the small town. On November 30, 1915, there was an explosion at the Number 2 Mine, which left 23 miners dead. 27 miners were rescued from the mine seven hours after the explosion, after they baracaded themselves into an area with fresh air.
On February 16, 2015 the town, along with neighboring Adena Village, was evacuated following the derailment of a C&O train consisting of two locomotives and 109 rail cars. The train, carrying crude oil, quickly exploded into a fireball, destroying one residence and causing substantial damage to surrounding residences in both Adena Village and Boomer. Crude oil swiftly flowed into the Kanawha River and set the water ablaze for over a half mile.
Smithers is a city in Fayette and Kanawha counties in the U.S. state of West Virginia. Located along the Kanawha River, it lies almost entirely in Fayette County. The population was 751 at the 2020 census. The city most likely takes its name from Smithers Creek. The small river city is noted for having a rich cultural history related to both its coal mining and Italian-American heritages.
Belle is a town in Kanawha County, West Virginia, United States, situated along the Kanawha River. The population was 1,171 at the 2020 census. Belle was incorporated on December 13, 1958 by the Kanawha County Circuit Court. It is the home of the Belle Bulldogs Elementary School.
On December 8, 2020 at approximately 10 pm, an explosion occurred at the Chemours Chemical Plant in the town, promoting a shelter-in-place to be issued for the town and surrounding areas. The explosion left one dead and three injured.