At the top of a small side trail off the Appalachian Trail in the state of Maryland sits the Pogo Campsite. This primitive camp site seems rather unimposing and quiet. The beauty of the area is fantastic and the Black Rock and Annapolis Overlooks are only a short walk away on the trail. But this area is bursting with historical significance. The Black Rock Hotel once stood at the site of the Pogo Campground.
Thurston Griggs Trail
The name of the trail that winds up the side of the mountain to intersect with the Appalachian Trail is named the Thurston Griggs Trail. This trail was once named the Bagtown Road and it took visitors up to the Black Rock Hotel. Over the years, the trail was adjusted and moved to preserve the land and now bears no resemblance to what we could consider to be a road. In the 1980's there was a thrust by various people to work to preserve our trails. Many people fought for the conservation and protection of the trails. Thurston Griggs was one of these crusaders for the trails. During his retirement years, he spent much time working to preserve the Appalachian Trail and other trails in the Mid-Atlantic area. Bagtown road was one of the trails that Thurston worked to preserve. When Thurston Griggs was 86 years old, they renamed this trail to honor his work. Thus, we now have The Thurston Griggs Trail. Thurston Griggs was active in the trail community until shortly before his death at at 95 in 2011.
The Pogo Campsite sites at the top of the Thurston Griggs trail. A small spring near the top of the Thurston Griggs tail makes this campsite a desirable stop for hikers. The campsite is a primitive style campsite with a an older privy and multiple fire circles scattered around the area. A new privy is being built.
The Pogo campsite is built near /on the site of the old Black Rock Hotel. The campsite was named after a young man who passed away in 1974. Walter "Pogo" Rheinheimer grew up on the Appalachian Trail. His parents were active members of the PATC (Potomac Appalachian Trail Club). In 1974, as a young adult, Pogo cheated death. He and a friend set out for a cross country adventure on their bikes, attempting to travel from coast to coast. On the first day they were sideswiped and suffered serious injuries. Once healed, Pogo accepted an invitation to go canoeing on the nearby Potomac River. This time his luck was not with him. He passed away. His parents wanted to memorialize their son and approached the PATC. The Black Rock Hotel Campsite was renamed the Pogo Campsite.
The Black Rock Hotel
The Black Rock Hotel, also known as the Black Rock House was originally built in the 1870's. Even though the hotel was not easily accessible, it quickly became a popular destination for people that wanted to escape the heat of the city. Sadly, the hotel burned down in 1880. Within in a short period of time, the owner lost his wife and child to illness. Depressed and disheartened, he moved to New York where he experienced great financial prosperity. The fresh mountain air near Black Rock kept calling his name and in 1907 he rebuilt the Black Rock Hotel.
The newly rebuilt never regained it's former popularity. The accessibility of the hotel came into play as more and more people chose to visit the nearby Pen Mar park, travelling by train to access the mountain top resort.
The memories that are recounted about the Black Rock Hotel are pleasant. Memories include sitting on the porch and looking at the town far below, visiting during the Fourth of July and reading the Declaration of Independence and drinking liquor distilled from Washington County Rye.
The second Black Rock Hotel burned in 1920. The walls stood high up in the mountains for many years. It became a popular spot for people to visit and explore. As late as the 1960's and 1970's people recount experiences at the Black Rock Hotel and talk about the walls still standing. But by the turn of the new century, the walls had been reduced to rubble and the foundation overtaken by nature.
I would have loved to live in that time frame to travel up the Bagtown Road to visit the Black Rock Hotel/Black Rock House. The resort high in the mountains would have been the perfect retreat from daily life. But that era is over. Instead, I will enjoy my hikes up the Thurston Griggs trail and my walks through the Pogo Campsite.
Photo Credits: http://fess2.blogspot.com/2011/03/my-search-for-black-rock-hotel.html and https://www.fredericknewspost.com/news/lifestyle/wolfsville-serenity-in-the-hills/article_93620fce-04f0-5404-87ea-8364c92cb874.html
Babcock State Park resides in the Appalachian Mountains near the New River Gorge. This state park is a multi faceted park with a variety of opportunities for fun. However, the main attraction at this state park is the Glade Creek Grist Mill.
Glade Creek Grist Mill
The Glade Creek Grist mill is frequently touted as one of the most picturesque locations in West Virginia. Many go as far as to say that it is the most commonly photographed spot in the state. I can attest to it's beauty and how photogenic this building really is.
The History of the Glade Creek Grist Mill
The Glade Creek Grist Mill may look old, but this building is relatively new with the construction being completed in 1976. What makes this mill look old and vintage? This mill was built from the parts of three other West Virginia Mills.
The actual building structure is from the remains of the Stoney Creek Grist mill. That mill dated back to the 1890's and was located in Campbelltown, which is in Pocahontas County.
The overshot waterwheel is from the Spring Run Grist Mill that was located near Petersburg, WV. The waterwheel was the only thing that was salvageable after a fire decimated the mill that was located in Grant County.
The other inner workings for the mill came from the Onego Grist Mill that was located near Seneca Rocks in Pendleton County.
The Glade Creek Grist Mill was built near the sight of the former Coopers Mill which was destroyed in 1920. This mill is fully operational and is open on the weekends. You can even buy some cornmeal that is ground on the premises.
What else does Babcock State Park Have
Babcock State Park is not just for the Grist Mill. There is a campground and the most charming cabins that are for rent. They have multiple trails that are good for trail running, hiking and mountain biking. They even have a mountain top lake for those hot summer days.
Babcock State Park and the Glade Creek Grist Mill are definitely something that we are happy that we took the time to visit. We are already making plans to return to this state park and stay in one of the cabins and explore more of the trails that this park has to offer.
I was quite nervous about hiking the Kaymoor Miners Trail. OK, I was absolutely petrified! We had visited the area a few months earlier and we had heard fabulous things about the Kaymoor Miners Trail. It was supposed to have anything that someone could ask for. Waterfalls, gorgeous views and abandoned ruins of a coal mine, it had it all. It sounded like something we would love We had known that it was a must do hike. So on that visit, we made our way to the trail head to hike this trail. We even started down the trail anxious to see what this trail was all about. It didn't bother us that the trail was marked as strenuous. We had been on difficult trails before! We had this!
We did not have that! On that hike, we got to the waterfall and the steep rock scramble and I totally wimped out! I became frightened and worried about my balance and stability and we turned around and did not complete that hike. I regretted it almost immediately and began to try to come up with ideas to allow me to traverse that rock scramble safely. I came up with the idea to start hiking with trekking poles. Best decision ever!
Time to Hike the Kaymoor Miners Trail
I had been hiking with my trekking poles for a few months between our first visit to the New River Gorge and the Kaymoor Miners Trail and the second visit. The time had come, we were back at the New River Gorge for our vacation. It was time to put those trekking poles to use and hike the Kaymoor Miners Trail. I was so excited to experience this trail that we decided to hike this trail on our very first day of our vacation.
We started out on the trail and we were loving the trail. It was easy, deceptively so; but I knew what was ahead of me. We got to that rock scramble area and it didn't seem quite as difficult. I paused for a few seconds and then moved forward. I went carefully and slowly but it wasn't that bad and the rock scramble was relatively short.
We kept hiking and before long we were at the intersection of the Kaymoor Trail. The Kaymoor Trail in this area sits on a shelf on the side of the mountain. This is the first visible evidence of the old mine. You can see buildings and mine entrances at this level.
Kaymoor Miners Trail: Stairway
After exploring this area, we took a deep breath and headed down the stairs. The signage near the stairs makes it very clear that there are 821 steps that will take the brave person down the side of the mountain. The signs also included a brief description of what we would see at the bottom of the steps. There was no question in my mind! We were going down those stairs!
hThe stairs were tough. Going down them was surprisingly rough on my muscles. Climbing back up the steps? That was difficult also! I was breathing like a freight train!
But on my word! The beauty at the bottom of those steps is incredible! The ruins of the abandoned mine are all around you. There are traces of the lives and work that took place here evident with every step we took! It was worth every muscle ache and every gasp for breath as I climbed back up!
I was so afraid of this hike, and it turned out to be the best hike of our entire visit. Was it difficult? Absolutely! Would I do it again? In a heartbeat! The Kaymoor Miners trail has it all. It's a great workout. It has fabulous scenery. It has abandoned buildings. It has amazing history. It has the peace that nature brings. This trail is top notch!
LEKI Trekking Poles8/13/2020
I recently found myself in the market for some Trekking poles and started to do my research. I had no clue what I was looking and therefore, I started this research blind. I knew nothing about trekking poles, it had just come as a bright idea that it may help my hiking abilities. I read some articles and I talked to the sales representatives at my local trail outfitter. Eventually, I decided to purchase a pair of LEKI trekking poles.
Researching Trekking Poles
I started my research online. I had only a vague idea that trekking poles would help me with a problem that I had recently developed while hiking. The problem? I had been stumbling more frequently and while hiking was occasionally unable to catch myself from falling. (I had first checked for other health issues, but everything appeared to be fine, I was just falling….a LOT!) That is where I started my research. Immediately I looked for guidance. Would trekking poles help me with my stability? The resounding answer was yes! I was ready to really start shopping! But then my eye caught some other things that Trekking poles are noted to help. Trekking poles were supposed to help with balance and stability for those suffering with arthritis in the knees! Perfect! But, the clincher for me? It also has been helpful for people who have hands that swell while hiking! Oh my word. I was totally hooked now!
There are a ton of different brands out there. I am an Amazon shopper so I immediately turned to Amazon. I found trekking poles for as low as $20! Awesome, it wasn’t going to break the bank! But then I started to look at the reviews. Hmmmm, flimsy and break after the first use. I was not impressed. I knew that I was going to be using these to help give me stability and a trekking pole that broke while I was using it was NOT going to keep me upright! In fact, that sounded downright disastrous! I went back to the research table and started to look at the top trekking poles. I was so confused and didn’t know what way to turn!
Visiting a Trail Outfitter Store
We decided to stop into our locally owned trail outfitter to check out their options for trekking poles. I was excited to see what they had in the store. I was hoping that they had something in stock! They were easy to find and we made our way right over to their selection. I immediately grabbed a pair or women’s poles. They looked snazzy. I extended them and did a few steps. Hmmm. They seemed to bow a bit with very little pressure. That didn’t seem safe to me. I grabbed a pair of LEKI poles and we extended them to the proper height. They were stiff and solid and seemed to have no bend or bow in them when I put a bit of pressure onto them.
The sales representative came over and started to talk to us about the different brands and styles of poles. They did not push one way or the other. HOWEVER, they did talk about the warranty of each product. They talked about the superior customer service of LEKI products and the ease of receiving replacement parts for anything that wears out or gets broken. LEKI is a company that specializes and manufactures two types of products, trekking poles and camp chairs. Their R&R is not spread thin, all of their attention is centered on these two products and they stand behind their products. LEKI seemed like a great company that stood behind their products! I was sold! It wasn’t until I got my trekking poles home that I read the documents to realize that these trekking poles have a lifetime warranty on defective material and product. Furthermore, warranty parts are available for up to 10 years after the product is manufactured. EVEN BETTER!
Using the Trekking Poles
We immediately took my new LEKI trekking poles to an easy trail so that I could experiment with them. Getting the motion down is actually more awkward then you would think, but after a bit it became more natural. But the real test occurred when we headed to a portion of the Appalachian Trail that is uphill and rocky.
I headed out with some apprehension due to my recent falls and right off the bat we encountered our first rocky climb up some steps that have no handholds/trees. I put those poles to use and marched right up those uneven rocky steps. The poles gave me the stability I needed and helped my arthritic knees by taking the pressure off of them. Oh my word, they work perfectly!
I used the poles with the glove type strap. I wasn’t sure if I would like a glove instead of a strap, but when my hand was in the glove, it correctly positioned my hands on the grips of the poles. The design allowed me to now have to grip the poles tightly and it helped to spread any weight or pressure in an ergonomically and efficient way. We hiked for 3 hours that first trip where I really put the poles to the test and my hands and arms felt as comfortable at the end of the hike as they did at the beginning. It was a painless learning experience!
The grips are great! We were hiking on a day when the temperatures was 95 degrees Fahrenheit with a super high humidity. I was wondering how the grips would handle a hot day. I shouldn’t have been worried. I never once had any issue where my hands felt slick. The grips worked fabulously and even after 3 hours of a sweaty hike, felt dry and new.
These poles are easy to adjust for different heights. When we started our hike, it only took me a minute or two to extend and adjust the poles to the proper position for comfort and safety. After hiking up the mountain we turned around for our descent. After just one or two steps down a steep part of the trail I stopped and quickly adjusted the height of the poles for downhill trekking. All in all, that adjustment took less than a minute. There is no long adjustment or worry. It is quick and easy. SO easy in fact that when we were done with our hike, I returned the poles to their small carrying size while I walked across the parking lot toward my car. It really is that easy and quick!
I am totally in love with these trekking poles! They will be going with me on all of my hikes. I am planning on getting some carabiner clips for my backpack so that even when I am choosing to not use them, that they are there with me. I felt myself stumble and trip once or twice during this hike but the added stability of these poles made the stumbles just that, a stumble.
Where do you want to go, we asked each other. We couldn't decide what in the world to do with our long weekend. We pondered and we talked about options. Undecided, we knew we had to make a decision and we had to make it soon. It wasn't until the simple comment was made, "There is so much I want to see in this world" that we knew. Immediately, we knew what the plans were going to be. We were going to visit two locations in western West Virginia. Places that we had each longed to visit. I was going to finally visit the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, WV and Jason was going to be able to see the New River Gorge Bridge in Fayetteville, WV. We couldn't be happier with our plans.
We took our time and researched everything fully and settled on our plans. We woke up early and drove to Weston, WV and arrived at the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum at 11:30. The first tour was set to start at Noon. I had already ascertained and decided on the tours that we would be doing, so I quickly paid and we went out to wait for our tour to start. Ohhh my word, this building and tour is everything I could have imagined. This building is quite historic and is just teeming with stories and happenings.
WeThe tour guide was knowledgeable and was able to give a history of the architecture and inhabitants through a variety of stories and information about the site. I already want to go back!
We were tired at that point so we headed to our hotel. We stayed at the Hampton Inn and we couldn't be any happier with our hotel. The staff working the hotel were super friendly and the building was immaculate. It was so clean in fact that we asked if the building has just been built and opened to the public!
The next morning we were ready to head to our next destination, The New River Gorge. Before we left the town though, we decided to head into the Museum of American Glass. This museum dedicated to glassware was interesting. We enjoyed the oil lamp collection and I absolutely loved the Lady Jane Stained Glass Dollhouse. The drive from Weston to Fayetteville was through mountains where nature surrounded us. The scenery alone made the drive worthwhile. It was about an hour drive and eventually we arrived! We were so excited to get our first glimpse of the bridge. We started at the National Park Service visitor Center parking lot. We walked the boardwalks to the overlooks and took in the bridge.
It is hard to describe the massive proportions of the bridge. This thing is huge!
This is located in a national park and unfortunately, due to the ongoing pandemic the visitor center was closed. However all overlooks and trails were open. We took every chance we could to see the bridge.
One of the highlights of this weekend was the visit to Thurmond, WV. This is an abandoned town nestled in the bottom of the gorge. Once a boom town, this town slowly faded to a collection of empty buildings as the coal mines shut down. The buildings are intact and have been secured and maintained by the National Park Service. The commerce area of the town is right on the edge of the railroad tracks while the residential area stood on the hill above the town. Walking through this town was amazing. It is hard to not think about the people that walked those roads many years before.
The trail system and scenery in this area are second to none. There are trails that take you to overlooks, trails that take you to abandoned coal mines and trails that lead you to rivers edge. It seemed as if we saw a waterfall at every turn, each one just as pretty as the one before. We could have stayed for a week and still not seen and experienced everything that this area has to offer. There are mountain bike trails, miles of hiking, ruins, kayaking and so much more.
On this trip, we even managed to squeeze in a quick visit to the Monster Museum in Sutton, WV! The quirkiness of this little museum was a great stop along the drive home.
We have already decided that we will be returning to New River Gorge as soon as possible. It's pretty and full of activities that will have you appreciating history and nature. A weekend at New river Gorge National Park and visiting Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum was a perfect getaway!
Check out the in detail descriptions for the locations visited during this trip
New River Gorge
Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
Museum of American Glass
A visit to The New River Gorge National Park would not be complete without a visit to the town of Thurmond, WV. Before we visited the area, I did my due diligence and researched many of the attractions and trails in the area. We only had a short time during that visit and I wanted to see as much as I could and to hit the most important locations. As soon as I saw the words ‘abandoned town’, I was hooked! Thurmond was one of the ‘musts’ for this trip!
The town of Thurmond was once a bustling boom town. The steady flow of money from the local coal mines and the railroad station in town fueled the economy. Over the years the coal mines began to shut down which caused a decline in the financial wealth of this community. Simultaneously, the rise in popularity of the automobile brought around a steep decrease in passenger train travel, which further hampered the economic prosperity of the town. Slowly, people began to leave the town for more prosperous towns. In the 2010 Census, the population of the town was listed as 5 and most of the buildings are now owned by the National Park Service.
The Commercial Area of Thurmond, WV
The first thing you will see as you drive into the town is the train station. This station has been completely redone and serves as a visitor center for the National Park. It is the focal point of the town. This is still a flag stop for Amtrak service. So if you want to begin and/or end your vacation in Thurmond, you can definitely arrive by train!
To tour the business area of the this abandoned town you will be walking along the railroad tracks. The commercial area of town is nestled between the side of the mountain and the railroad tracks. These railroad tracks are still owned, operated and used by CSX, so please be careful. It is fascinating to walk by the businesses and imagine how life was in this town during the heyday when it was a bustling center of activity that while small was so prosperous that it was able to support two banks.
The Coaling Tower
There are still remnants of the bygone era of steam locomotives. The coaling tower still stands tall and proud at the end of the commerce section of town. Along with some of the outbuildings that supported the thriving railroad. Proud of the history of this town, in recent years they have held a Thurmond Train day for rail fans.
The Residential Area of town
We walked through the commercial area of the town and walked by a few buildings that were obviously residential in nature before we came to a winding road that led up the side of the mountain. It was a hot day when we were there, but we decided to walk up a bit of the hill to explore. Oh my word! I am so glad I did. Abandoned house after abandoned house stood at the side of the road a testament to the lives that had been lived in this town. The houses have been secured by the National Park service, so they are not readily available for entry. However, it is possible to walk onto the porches and peer in some windows.
Remnants of lives once happily lived are evidenced in the flowers that were once carefully planted but now grow wild. As we wound up the hill and back down, we came across the town church standing proud on the side of the mountain. Oh, if walls could talk!
Thurmond, WV quickly became the absolute favorite part of our visit to this area. It is not often you get to walk through an abandoned ghost town that is still almost fully intact. The history and vibe of the area was something to behold! We explored that town as fully as we could! We have both on many different occasions since we have been home have made the remark that we will go back to that town to explore more!
For more about this area, check out The New River Gorge Bridge.
I have heard so much about the New River Gorge Bridge! Jason had always wanted to see the the bridge and I had grown interested through hearing about him talk about this bridge. We were in Western West Virginia to visit the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum and realized that the New River Gorge was only an hour away. We had to go! Completed in 1977, The New River Gorge Bridge opened as the worlds longest single span arch bridge. It held that record for 26 years. Even now, it remains the fourth largest single span bridge. The bridge was built as a means of traveling from one side of the gorge to the other. Before the completion of this bridge traversing from one side to the other required a 40 minute trip down to the bottom of the gorge and back up the other side. The new bridge reduced the travel time to roughly one minute.
National Park Service Visitor Center
We arrived at the new river gorge around lunch time. We couldn’t wait to lay our eyes on this bridge that we had heard so much about! We immediately headed to the National Park Service Visitor Center parking. I knew that the actual visitor center was closed due to the pandemic, but the website had indicated that the boardwalks and overlooks were open. While it would have been nice to be able to see and learn more about the bridge , I was grateful that I would still be able to visit the overlooks. After all, that was what I came for! We parked in the parking lot at the National Park visitors center. We were ready to get our first taste of the New River Gorge Bridge!
There were signs that indicated the direction to the overlook. The path quickly turns into a wooden boardwalk. The walk is easy and in just a few short moments you will come to the first overlook. We could see the bridge and we stood in awe for a bit.
AThis boardwalk trail was not over though. There are a series of steps that head down to a second overlook. We didn’t have to ponder long. Although as we headed down there was a bit of trepidation about the return climb up the steps. Halfway down the steps there is a nice area that includes some benches if you need a break. We reached the bottom and the view was spectacular. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized exactly how deep this gorge is and how utterly mammoth this bridge really is.
The hike back up isn’t too bad. We were out of breath but it only took a few minutes. We decided to walk a bit around the visitor center area and we came to a second overlook. This on also had some neat displays showing information about the bridge.
After we had explored all we could see we headed out. It wasn’t until the next day that we explored the bridge more fully.
Fayette station road
The road that up until 1977 had been the primary means to get from one side of the gorge to the other is called the Fayette Station Road. It is still open and the visitor center offers audio tours of this road. I knew from my pre-trip research that we could stream the audio tour in lieu of going into the visitor center (which was closed). Perfect! We happily headed on this tour. The audio tour is well done. It gives the history and background of this road that winds down and then back up the mountain utilizing switchbacks while carrying you by sheer rock walls and waterfalls.
Along the way there are ample opportunities to stop to view the New River Gorge Bridge. Each different view and angle only reinforces the mammoth proportions of this bridge. At the bottom of the gorge there is camp/day use area with plenty of parking. This allowed us the chance to view up close the river that runs through the gorge. We saw kayakers drop into the water, fisherman fishing and swimmers enjoying the cool temperature of the water on a hot day. We took the opportunity to walk back to the bridge that spans the water at the bottom of the gorge. It was here that we were given a full view of the bridge.
andThe Fayette Station Road has a few pull offs that are at trailheads. We hiked one of the trails for a bit, enjoying the flowing water of streams and the gushing waterfalls that the trail took us too.
The overlooks located at the visitor center and the views of the new River Gorge bridge from the Fayette Station were spectacular and made the bridge experience a most amazing part of this trip! The new River Gorge is definitely a must see location!
For More West Virginia travel, visit the Museum of American Glass in Weston, WV and Thurmond and abandoned town in the New River Gorge Area.
Nestled in the heart of downtown Weston, WV sits a little gem of a museum, The Museum of American Glass. This museum is dedicated to the artform that is American Glass. We were in town to visit the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum but I didn't want to leave town until I knew that I had seen all that there was to see. I turned the online resources to see if there were any other must see attractions. The Museum of American Glass kept appearing on my screen.
Do I really want to go see Glass?
Glass? I kept asking myself. Do I really want to go into a building full of glassware? I debated. I went back and forth in my decision. At one moment I would be thinking that I should really go to the museum because when would I be back in the town of Weston, WV and the museum was free to tour! After a few minutes though, I would be back to the thought that it sounded, well....boring! When we left the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum after a full day of tours, we actually drove by the museum. The mural on the side of the building was neat and I was temporarily swayed to go visit. But not that night, we were tired and it was time to go get some dinner and go back to our hotel.
I went back and forth with the decision all evening long. To go or not to go, that was the true question of the evening. The next morning I woke up quite early. I knew that we had to make a decision about the Museum of American Glass soon because we were leaving town in just a few short hours! I picked up my phone and pulled up their website once again. This time, something caught my eye! I saw that they had a nice collection of Oil Lamps!
I knew at that exact moment that we would be going to this museum. Jason has a keen interest in antique oil lamps and has his own collection. This was now something that would have interest to us! I got ready to close out of the website and my eyes caught sight of something else. The website announced a new display. It announced the arrival of a Lady Jane Stained Glass Dollhouse. I build, collect and love miniature houses. I was hooked now!
There was no question about going to visit this museum now. The website indicated that on the day we were going to visit that they opened at 9:30. We arrived at 10AM. The museum is housed in a storefront in the downtown of Weston, WV. We stopped to look at the interesting displays that they had in the front windows before walking inside.
We walked in and we were greeted with a room full of display cases. There was multi colored glass filling each case. While we knew what we really wanted to see, we knew that we were going to enjoy and explore the complete museum. I saw glassware from companies that I was familiar with, such as Fenton. But there were various glass pieces from glass makers that I had never heard about.
While the array of colors and types of glassware was amazing, we were happy strolling through the museum and taking in the vibrant colors. The curators of this museum have each glass maker separate so we were able to see the glass art displayed before us. While each maker was identified, there was not much background information displayed. We stopped and read the names of the glass makers, but I would have loved to learn more about each one.
Eventually we came to the oil lamps and we slowed down and really perused the displays. They have some amazing and unique oil lamps on display.
We say displays about glassworks and glassblowing and then I saw the Stained Glass dollhouse. It was huge! I was in my glory.
The museum of American Glass was a neat little visit. We only spent about a half hour to hour in the museum, but it was an interesting collection and the price was right. While I would have liked to have seen a bit more information on the collections so that I could learn more about each glassmaker, I would definitely recommend a visit to this museum. This museum is a great way to round out a trip to Weston, WV.
I first learned about the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum somewhere right around 2010. I had been searching for abandoned and historical buildings online and the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum came into my radar. I read all that I could about the building. I was fascinated with the history and filled with thankfulness that this building had been purchased and open to the public for tours. Immediately, this location skyrocketed to one of the top three places to visit on my bucket list. I wanted to visit the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in a really bad way. Unfortunately, life and circumstances kept me away. I may have not been able to visit at that point, but I kept a close eye on the website. I was pleased to see that the tours were supplying the funds for ongoing restoration. As a result, through the years they began to offer a larger variety of tours and more access to the property. My interest only grew, but more years passed.
FINALLY, the arrangements were made and I had plans to go visit the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. I was beside myself with excitement. I had researched the different tours and I knew that there were two of the available tours that I was planning on taking. I wanted to do the Four Floor tour and the Criminally Insane Tour. We planned to arrive in time to start with the first tour, which would give us the option to add on a third tour at the end of the day if time permitted.
We pulled up to the building and I was practically giddy! The pictures that I had seen (and that I took) do not do this building justice. This building is quite immense and imposing. (I am honestly struggling to not just fill up this post with pictures!)
The building was opened in 1864 and operated as a hospital until 1994. It was opened under the name of Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum but later changed its name to Weston State Hospital in the year 1913. The name was changed back to “Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum” when it was reopened to the public for tours. This imposing structure is the largest hand cut stone building in the United States and is the second largest in the world, second only to the Kremlin in Moscow.
The main floor opens up to a grand entrance that has been beautifully restored. Here you will have the chance to buy your tickets, sign your waiver and visit the gift shop. Your price of your admission (no any of the variety of tours) will give you access to the museum which is housed on the main floor and right wing of the main floor. There are artifacts from life in this mental hospital and the property that included fields for producing their own food and a coal mine. As you walk through the right wing you will see various examples of common treatments for mental illness. You can read about them and then take in the re-creations that they have set up.
The first tour in my day was the Four Floor Tour. This guided tour is fantastic. In 2020 it was $30 and will last for about 90 minutes. The tour guide will lead you through the main building and talk about the various features of the architecture and history of the building. The tour guide will point out various points of interest and will share stories of the patients and personnel who lived, worked and resided in this grand building. During the tour there will be opportunities to learn about the history and uses of the other buildings that surround the main building on this medical campus. The tour will lead you through beautifully restored areas. You will see what the building looked like when it was at the height of it’s use.
However you will also see similar areas that are showing signs of the years of disuse and decay. The juxtaposition between the two is amazing to witness.
The tours will lead you through many areas of the building that are rough and raw and showing signs of the years decay. You will see the peeling paint. You will see decay as you learn about how the areas were used. You will see the sheer beauty of this building.
The four floor tour will also give you access to the Medical Building. This building served as the for not only the asylum but also for the community. While this building may not be as old and prestigious as the main building, the history and stories are no less plentiful and fascinating.
We were absolutely pleased with our tour and our tour guide. It was 90 minutes of amazing sights and fabulous stories about what we were seeing. But our day was not over yet! We had a thirty minute break before our next tour. We spent our time strolling through the museum portion of the building. The artifacts are well displayed and you can tell that they were carefully chosen to convey the life of the people that worked in the building as well as the life that was created for the patients that spent most of their lives within the confines of this property.
All too soon it was time for our next tour but we knew that we would have time to see the rest later in the day! Up next was the Criminally Insane Tour. Yes, this hospital housed the criminally insane and at one point they had a building that was built for this exact purchase. This tour is again led by a tour guide who was quite knowledgeable In fact, we were lucky enough to get the same tour guide for this tour but even luckier, we were the only two people on our tour. A personal tour! We headed back to the criminally insane building. Our tour guide let us peak into the windows of the hospital library and look at the patient graffiti that still graced the walls outside the library before heading into the main portion of the building.
This tour was just as good as the first tour. We learned that they housed two types of patients in this building. They housed the patients that were deemed criminally insane but the state also used the building to house prisoners while they were awaiting on the trial for their mental competency. The doctors and staff of the hospital would work with the prisoners/patients to determine the level of their sanity. Much of the building was in a dorm room style where these criminally insane patients were housed together. The stories, history and architecture on this tour was just as impressive as the first tour that we went on. It was a great decision to add this tour onto our day’s activities. It was an additional $15, but worth every penny.
After our two tours we continued to explore the museum and visited the gift shop. We were seriously debating adding on the Daytime Paranormal tour to our day . This tour would lead us through the buildings. It would be full of stories of paranormal experiences and show different areas that were noted to have higher than average paranormal events. We eventually decided to not do the tour so that we would have plenty of time to enjoy the museum.
Visiting the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum was on my bucket list for years and after visiting, I question why I waited so long to actually visit. The money from the tours goes back into the building and each year they work on restoring and stabilizing this grand building, so the money is well spent. But these tours are preserving not only the buildings, they are preserving the stories and the life that was held within these buildings. As we were driving away Jason looked at me and said “we will have to come back to Weston, West Virginia in a few years to do the paranormal tour and to see what they have restored!” Yes, this building really is that awesome!
We all have dreams for our futures. We all want more from life and so many times, that requires more freedom. It requires freedom from the burden of a nine to five job and sometimes it requires financial freedom. It is the act of being financially independent, living a life without the constraints of being reliant on being employed or relying on others. But how do we get there? How do we follow the dream of travelling full time? How do we attain the dream of self sufficiency and financial freedom that allows us to see the world? People are constantly searching the internet, reading books, watching youtube videos in an effort to learn how to make their dreams come true. Just type in whatever your dream is and ask how to achieve that dream and you will find hundreds and thousands of internet links for blogs, websites and videos. There are tons of different ideas out there and people are reading and searching for them. Seriously, there are a lot! Why is it so popular? It is popular because we all have dreams for our lives. It is only natural. I have tons of dreams and aspirations and I frequently spend time on the internet research how to bring them to fruition. But probably the most common dream that I research is how to afford to travel full time and how to live a financially free life. How can afford to travel the world? Your dream doesn't have to be my dream. You may be trying to figure out how to afford to buy your first hour or how to afford that dream vacation. It can be anything. That is the beauty of dreams. We are only limited by our own imagination. But what happens once we dream and actually take the first step to research and find plan to implement our dreams.
How to become Financially Independent
We gather our information and ideas from the internet and then we sit back and think. And here is where there comes a divide in the road. What are you going to do with the information? This first choice is upon you immediately. What exactly are you going to do with this information? How ambitious are you? Are you going to look at the information you gathered and think 'Yes, someday! That sounds like a good idea, but not today"? Maybe you are one of the people that lament the fact that it's not going to be easy and set all ideas and plans aside? Do you look at the information and think 'someday'? Have you gathered your information only to find yourself totally overwhelmed? Do you feel as if it's too late to start? Or maybe, just maybe you are one of the people that do your research and dive right in. No matter what type of person you are, it's ok. I just want you to remember that there is always the perfect time to start and that perfect time is right now.
Start today on the road to financial freedom
OK, when I say that right now is the perfect time to start, that is assuming that you haven't already started to put your plans and ideas into action. Because, lets be honest, the best time to put your plans into action is always going to be yesterday, last year, 5 years ago. Basically the best time some time in the past simply because the ground work would already be laid and you would be a few steps forward in the process. But if you haven't started, it's ok. You can't let that bother you. We are not looking at the past. We are dreaming about the future. And that is what makes right here, right now the perfect time to start. If you give up simply because you did not start years ago, then you will never succeed because you will always be lamenting the fact that you haven't started and now it's an uphill battle that may even seem insurmountable.
I have spent more time than I would like to kicking myself for not pushing through with ideas and thoughts that I had years ago. I started writing in what started as an online journal. It was for my own personal use. I have consistently written posts there since January of 2006. I was writing there for my own personal growth and well being and while my readership was growing, I never capitalized on that blog for monetary purposes. I resisted 'selling out' on what I considered my personal journal. I even thought about doing video vlogs to complement that as early as 2008, but it was too much work. Where would I have been had I pushed my blog/website back when blogs were just starting to gain momentum? I could have been well on my way to traveling full time and earning my living off of my website. I eventually did start a YouTube channel for vlogs and as a companion to my website. I played around with it. It was a hobby for me. I never pushed myself past the hobby stage. Yet what would have happened had I tried to turn it into a stream of income? Could that have been funding our long weekends of exploration? Could it be paying for a fabulous vacation each year? Better yet, would I be financially capable of realizing my dreams
You see, it's easy to look back and ask yourself why you didn't do something. Why didn't you start earlier? Why didn't you take things more seriously? Why didn't you put more effort into your hobbies? But that isn't going to help anything. It's time to stop looking at the past and to start looking to the future. Today is the day to start making the changes in your life that will help you achieve those ambitions and dreams. Today is the beginning of a new future where our dreams and goals come true. Today is the first day in the journey to being financially free and independent.
Belief In Living
Travel with us as we explore!