The top end of West Virginia is about as far north as you can get and still be in the south. You needn’t drive many miles to get from wooded, mountainous areas inhabited by tough mountain folk to genteel old towns of stone and brick buildings with iron lattice railings and faux wooden shutters. People decorate their houses according to the season (Hallowe’en at the moment) and sit in rockers on their front porches. I could imagine shotguns and corn-cob pipes, although I confess I didn’t see any.
Obviously, new services are readily available behind the old facades, but the area maintains its symbols and its rich history. The land here was a battleground for both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, and so is replete with memorials and statues; battlefields and graveyards.
As John Denver sang: “Life is old there, older than the trees…” The song was written at Harpers Ferry, where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet and life still imitates art. Current American arts and crafts are honoured and old buildings and history are maintained. History lives in the “Upper Town” where people go about their business in buildings dating back to the late 1700’s. The “Lower Town” is a mix of tourist shops and preserved history: Lewis and Clark bought supplies here in 1803 before setting out on their explorations and hardy trekkers walking the 2,178 mile Appalachian Trail stop in today. Less hardy visitors, like myself, drink cappuccino and shop. Antiques are sold alongside American artisan crafts. “…Younger than the mountains, growing like the breeze.”
Beautiful place: almost heaven! Take me home… Country roads.