NPR newscaster and former West Virginia Public Broadcasting staffer Giles Snyder and his teenage daughter Kendall are going on a road trip through the Mountain State from their home in Martinsburg—for extra credit. They’ve got a lot of ground to cover in just a few days, and they’re giving WV Living a firsthand account from the road. Here is Giles’s third installment:


From the Gorge to the Graveyard

We’re stranded on the front porch of my uncle’s house. Fun road trip, Dad. ~Kendall

My daughter wrote those words while we sat feeling sorry for ourselves in the rocking chairs on the front porch of my brother’s house.

We were tired. We were sweaty. We were hungry. And most importantly, we needed a bathroom after a long day on the road. But my brother, Kendall’s uncle Matt, was nowhere to be found when we arrived at his house in Scott Depot in Putnam County.

We called him. He didn’t pick up.

We texted him. He didn’t reply.

We called him, again. And we texted him, again. Nothing.

I had made arrangements to spend the night at Matt’s house before we left our home in Martinsburg on Monday. At the time, I thought it a good idea. After all, we don’t see each other much these days. We live at opposite ends of the state.

But instead of a warm reunion, we were greeted only by his two dogs. And they weren’t happy. They were frantic at the sight of strangers.

After we’d spent more than an hour of wondering just what had befallen him, he finally returned my calls. His truck had temporarily broken down. Not only that, but it left him stranded in an area where there is no cell service.

In the end, everything worked out. He got his truck moving again and finally met up with us at his house, where Kendall and I got a bed for the night. But his bad luck made our day that much longer.

We had left the Swiss village of Helvetia at around 8 a.m. with plans to visit the New River Gorge Bridge, the Appalachian South Folklife Center near Pipestem, the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum in Matewan and the cemetery in Logan County where Devil Anse Hatfield rests.

The Gorge didn’t disappoint. We took in the visitor center, where a park ranger from Martinsburg was waiting for us (my wife knows his mom and insisted we look him up and snap a selfie with him).

From there we drove to the bottom of the Gorge to see the bridge from the bottom up. The view was spectacular, but time was conspiring against us.

Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to the Folklife Center. And when we looked up the website for the Mine Wars Museum, we discovered that it’s only open on the weekends. That left Devil Anse Hatfield.

It took quite a while to make the drive from the New River Gorge to Logan County. And after some anxious moments, we found the legendary Hatfield patriarch.

Today, we only have one point of interest on our extra-credit itinerary—the Palace of Gold in the Northern Panhandle. First though, we have to stop by my brother’s shop in Hurricane.

Matt operates Bear Wood Company and is making a name for himself with his cutouts of West Virginia using reclaimed wood. People generally hang them on their walls, but my wife wants us to pick up a wedding gift—a reclaimed wood registry in the shape of West Virginia. We also have to stop by my mom’s place in Charleston. She hasn’t seen her granddaughter in far too long.

From there, it’s off for the Northern Panhandle leg of our journey. It’s going to be another long day, but by the end of it we hope to be home in the Eastern Panhandle where we don’t have to worry about waiting for someone to show up so we can use the bathroom.

Click here to see Giles’s account of Day 4!

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