Make memories on the back roads
Recently we decided to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway. I planned our trip, had all the must-see places mapped out, the whole nine yards. Then we got there. Somewhere in all my planning I didn’t account for the parkway being closed due to weather. Too foggy.
So we get on the handy-dandy Google map app and decide to change our plans and go where the road would take us. We discovered the most beautiful twisty-windy roads that were a lot of fun to drive and ended up experiencing the mountains in Virginia and West Virginia in our own way. We took our time and stopped when we wanted and really experienced the area.
Stopping at beautiful old churches, tiny small towns, and old cemeteries. Imagining the lives that passed this way. For a history nerd like me, this was a perfect vacation. Reading a book while sitting on a beach bores me. Too much to see, I don’t want to miss a thing. I can read at home.
Where the strange things are.
We drove down a very narrow country road in West Virginia without any particular destination in mind. Just enjoying the fall foliage and came upon something in a pasture that made us do a double take. What is that?! When we get closer we see a sign. It’s the Blue Sulphur Springs Pavilion don’t ya know?
I have to tell you that pavilion stuck out like a sore thumb in the pasture. We honestly thought it was U.G.L.Y. Fortunately, there was a sign explaining the monstrosity.
Designed in a Greek Revival style…with prominent gables…supported by twelve Doric columns.
The sign read: “Blue Springs Pavilion was constructed ca. 1838 as the centerpiece of the health resort which rivaled the famous Greenbrier in terms of its comforts and refinement. Crisp, clear water bubbled up from the natural spring in the center of the pavilion which appeared blue from mineral deposits. For a short time the campus served Allegheny College, a Baptist seminary, before the Civil War took a toll on its students and buildings.
The resort was a sprawling brick hotel with added wings, flanked by a row of cottages for families. William Burke in his book “The Mineral Springs of Western Virginia” wrote ““Never have we seen bad taste more unfortunately illustrated than here. It seems as if the designer had his brain obfuscated by mint-julep.”
Throughout the 20th century, the property was used for local events and as farmland until the Greenbrier Historical Society acquired the property and established a plan to restore the pavilion. The original pavilion was designed in a Greek Revival style with prominent gables symmetrically placed on each side of the roof, which was supported by twelve Doric columns. The brick columns were shortened by two feet when the roof was replaced in the early 20th century.”
“It seems as if the designer had his brain obfuscated by mint-julep.” William Burke, “The Mineral Springs of Western Virginia”.
The resort didn’t last long due to economic downturns and in 1858 it closed. Both the Union and Confederate armies used the resort during the Civil War. Burned to the ground by one of the armies, only the pavilion remained.
According to the Greenbrier Historical Society website “The Pavilion is now in severe disrepair. A stopped-up drainage system has resulted in standing water that is undermining the foundation. One of the 12 Greek columns has slipped off center. The facility has stood for 170 years but those years have taken their toll, and there is the likelihood that the structure will collapse without proper care.”
Teaming up to help save the structure are the”Friends of the Blue” and the Greenbrier Historical Society. Stabilizing the structure was their first objective. From recent newspaper accounts in the area, they are still seeking grants to restore the pavilion. You can read more about the preservation of the pavilion here.
Discovering where history happened.
We continued on the West Virginia country roads and came upon the Muddy Creek Massacre Site. This was interesting to me because one of the victims was Felty Yoakam, the son of my 6x great grandfather Mathias Yoakam. It was here in 1763 that Indians under Shawnee Chief Cornstalk killed settlers living at Muddy Creek. It was part of Pontiac’s War. Named after Ottawa Chief Pontiac who rallied other Indian tribes to rebel against the British after the French and Indian War. His plan was for each tribe to capture the nearest fort and wipe out the settlers. The Shawnee carried out his command at Muddy Creek.
Now all that remains is a quiet valley of peaceful farmland and a small lonely cemetery.
It’s a beautiful, quiet spot. One can see why they chose to settle this area. The massacre didn’t stop more settlers from making their homes, including the Yoakam’s who continued to live on in the area.
Later that evening when we were at the hotel, I researched the places we saw. I knew I wanted to remember where we had been and fortunately Google keeps up with me. I’ve enabled my phone to automatically load all my pictures to Google Photos. I can access all my pictures and, if I have my location on, it will record where I took the picture. Google will keep up with your entire trip if you enable location on your phone. When you look at your pictures on Google photos there is a tiny white circle with an i in the upper right corner, click on it. On the right side is information about your picture. Where, when and how it was taken. Now you can “remember” where that beautiful spot was that you took a million pictures of!
Tech tip: Google will keep up with your entire trip if you enable location on your phone.