We were in Clifftop for almost two weeks. We stayed at Babcock State Park and it was wonderful!
Our first day in the area was pretty cold and misty. We’d heard about the grist mill so we went to check it out. It’s a gorgeous area.
We walked in thinking we would take a look around and move on, but when we found the Miller there…well, one thing led to another and suddenly we had plans to come back after lunch so the boys could help grind corn.
The Miller was a wealth of knowledge. He explained the process and actually put the boys to work.
Each boy took part in each job. They scooped the corn kernels into the hopper. The Miller explained about the phrase “nose to the grind stone”. When you’re grinding corn (or whatever you might be grinding) the stones will get hot. You don’t want them too hot or they’ll ruin whatever your grinding so you have to smell around the grindstone to make sure you’re not going too fast and getting too hot.
As the ground corn comes out of the meal spout it lands on a big wire mesh screen where it needs to be sifted. You get corn flour, corn meal, corn grit, and then the waste which was used to feed the animals. Nothing was thrown away.
I’m watering down the details here. There’s more to it than this, but I’m not a miller and I don’t remember all of the technical jargon. In the jars above you can see the different products that could come out of a grist mill.
For their effort, they were each given a certificate
and we got to keep a bag of the corn meal they’d just ground! We’ve got some plans for this corn meal!! This stuff is so different from what you’ll get at the store. So much better!
We pretty much had the campground to ourselves…except for all of the wildlife. We counted nine deer grazing outside our front door one afternoon.
We were fairly close to the New River Gorge Bridge so we took the opportunity to go check it out. The boys snagged a badge and a patch there. It’s called New River, but it’s actually one of the oldest rivers in the world. It’s older than the Appalachian Mountains. At 876 feet, New River Bridge is the third highest bridge in the country.
So, at the visitor center you can walk down the hundreds of stairs to get an ok view of the bridge. Don’t get me wrong…it’s a nice view…but, I’d heard about a hike you can do to get a better view. The hike is called Long Point Hike for anyone interested. It’s a bit strenuous, but not terrible. I definitely earned the burger I had after that. We ended up hiking a total of around four miles round trip. It was so worth it! Check out the view from Long Point in the photo above! You come out on this point and you’re looking straight at the bridge and you’re far enough away that you can get the whole bridge with the river below it in your shot! Just watch out for the red wasps. It’s a long way down if you fall off the edge as you’re dodging the wasps…
We also made it to Cathedral Falls! I don’t really know anything about Cathedral Falls except they’re super easy to get to.
It’s always hard to judge how big something is in a picture unless you’re given a size comparison. If you look closely in the above picture you’ll see Jerl and The Dude checking out some tadpoles to the left of the falls.
We only had time for one more place so we hit Nuttallburg. It is impressive!
In the 1870s John Nuttal wanted to take advantage of the rich coal deposits along the New River gorge and began buying up the land around it. By the turn of the century, Nuttallburg was a pretty busy mining community, but after his death it didn’t do so well.
In the 1920s Henry Ford leased the town’s mines to provide for his company’s steel mills. He spent $100,000 to build the “button and rope” conveyor system you can see heading up the hill. Ultimately, his plan failed when he couldn’t control or buy the railroad he needed to carry the coal form the mine to his mills and he sold his interests in the Nuttallburg mines in 1928.
There was an entire community at Nuttallburg. Homes, stores, schools…
In the two photos above you can see the same plot of land then and now.
The row of coke ovens are still there. You can see where the Company Store was. You’ve heard the song 16 Tons by Tennessee Ernie Ford? “I owe my soul to the company store…” wasn’t far from the truth. Miners worked long hours in dangerous conditions to earn their pay. When the only store around was owned by the mining company…well, prices weren’t fair and miners usually ended up owing the Company Store more money than they made each week.
Yup, that’s coal! We saw it everywhere. The only other place we’ve seen it so easily available is in Alaska.
We took advantage of the fire pit and had roasted hot dogs and s’mores several nights. You might be surprised to know that most of the RV Parks we go to don’t have a fire pit and don’t allow fires at the campsites. So…we indulged and took advantage of the fire pit while we stayed at Babcock State Park!
Flower report! The dogwood trees were everywhere and in full bloom!!
This is also a tree. I don’t know what kind it is, but I love the delicate pink blooms on it and so did the butterfly!
Ok…so…this isn’t the best picture, but these purple flowering trees were thrown in all over the place along rivers, railroads, and roads. We were told by a Ranger that they came over on trains from China. She also told us the name of the tree, but for the life of me I can’t remember. They were super pretty though!
We loved West Virginia more than we expected to! One of our favorite things to do is talk to locals. You really get a feel for an area when you chat with the people who live there. West Virginia is filled with hard working, genuinely nice folks that are trying to make ends meat in a dying state. Every time a mine is closed it’s taking jobs and livelihood away from an entire community. I encourage everyone to take a trip to West Virginia this summer. Go explore and support the small towns and communities that depend on tourism to stay alive.
See y’all down the road!