I live on a farm. As a farmer I find plenty of time to reflect as I am working.
This weekend before last, while raking hay alone on a tractor for several hours in 90 degree heat, I found myself reflecting on The Hub’s recent staff retreat at Cass Scenic Railroad State Park.
It was the park that once again entered my thoughts. What was it?
I have never had any experiences with the lumber industry. But this lumber town was very interesting, with all the quaint white company houses on the hill, connected with wooden sidewalks and stairways to the restaurant and store at the bottom of the hill.
The evenings and nights were quiet, and the stars overhead were awesome.
There is obviously lots of history here, but what was it that drew me in the most? Something here was oddly familiar.
We stayed in a very nicely refurbished camp home. Much of the original flooring, trim and wooden staircase were still intact.
There was no air conditioning and no phone, but instead a beautiful, huge front porch with a swing and rockers to enjoy each other’s company.
I was drawn to the porch but it wasn’t until I was back on my farm raking hay and had time to reflect that I realized that every time I went to the porch I was waiting for my Grandma Dorsey to come out of the house.
The house, the porch, the coal dust, and the smell reminded me of going to visit my grandmother in the coal town of Rivesville – in the Greentown section of Rivesville to be exact.
In summer, the visits centered around the porch, where you chatted with the neighbors, Mrs. Summers, Helen Collins, and others.
The sulfur smell was in the air while the bits of black soot filtered down from the coal-fired power plant at the bottom of the hill, like the coal-fired train at the bottom of the hill in Cass. For all intents and purposes this timber town could be a coal town, with many of the same sights and sounds.
I guess that is why I was attracted to the front porch. I was just waiting for Grandma to shuffle out to join us as she would when I used to visit, years ago. Yep, it all tugged at my heart strings and the tears trickled down my cheeks as I realized this was my childhood in Rivesville.
So if you want to reconnect with life in a small West Virginian town, I strongly suggest you spend some time at the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park. It is now a must see for my kids and grandchildren!
Of course, there were no train rides with fantastic scenery at Grandma’s, but there was plenty of steam letting, whistles and coal soot!
Learn more about Cass Scenic Railroad State Park at www.cassrailroad.com.