Lark: Ok, I got out of time in and went with Dad and Mom on a hike so I think I should talk about the New River Gorge National River.
Cory: I was there too, but if it will make you happy go ahead. Only thing, can I interrupt as much as you do?
Lark: Whatever. The New River Gorge is near Fayetteville, West Virginia. We heard a lot about it before we came because our human brother goes there a lot. His dogs talk.
Cory: It is a very dog friendly place.
Lark: I was going to say that. The New River is one of the oldest rivers on the North America Continent. It created a canyon, also called a gorge, which is the deepest and longest river gorge in the Appalachian Mountains.
Cory: Well listen to you Miss Smartie Pants. Now, you are doing my job telling about the science and history.
Lark: Just be quiet. I know a lot more than you think I do. The New River National River area is 70,000 acres of land along 53 miles of the New River from Bluestone Dam to Hawk’s Nest Lake. It is part of three different recreation areas, the New River Gorge National River, the Gauley National Recreation Area and the Bluestone National Scenic River. People come from all over the world to participate in some of the activities there-hiking, rafting, both whitewater and float, kayaking, canoeing, mountain biking, fishing and climbing. West Virginia’s nickname is Wild and Wonderful. . People say that you can be serene or extreme. Of course, since we were with the ‘rents, we had to be serene. But, sometime, I am coming back with my human brother and do the extreme because I am WILD and WONDERFUL! The New River Gorge National River brings out the wild in me.
Cory: Better not be too wild. That’s what got you in trouble and made you miss the last two excursions.
Lark: I am saving it for the next time. And I will be back.
Cory: Brother. So, tell them what we did.
Lark: As much as I wanted to go rafting, the ‘rents said it was too cold. So, we just went hiking and driving. We hiked the Endless Wall Trail which was voted the best National Park trail in 2015. That’s saying a lot because as we found out, there are thousands of trails in the National Parks. The best thing about the New River Gorge? Dogs can go on all the trails!
Cory: There were a lot of dogs on the Endless Wall Trail, too. Be sure and tell your humans to keep you on a short leash and step off the trail to let others pass.
Lark: And bring poop bags, there aren’t any on the trail. And we needed them.
Cory: Yeah, and who had to carry them back out in her back pack? Me!
Lark: As the most environmentally responsible one in our pack, I think that was appropriate. Besides, it warned everyone to stay away from you. You stunk!
Cory: Just for the record, I was carrying two bags!
Lark: Anyway, the trail was beautiful. We crossed a stream on a narrow bridge.
Cory: That somebody feel off because she wasn’t watching where she was going.
Lark: Hey! Let me tell the story. The trail was relatively flat, but we did have to go uphill for a while. Then, we walked along the ridge line above the New River. It was WAAAAAAYYYY down below us. I mean, we were up so high that Mom couldn’t get near the ledge. She was afraid we would fall off.
Cory: Um, didn’t someone fall off a little bridge?
Lark: Hush. We could see rafters down below us. There are even trails to places where you can climb on ropes down the side of the gorge! We sat down on some rocks at Observation Point about halfway on the trail and saw a train go along by the side of the river. Dad said it was carrying coal. It made a lot of noise even if it was far away down below us.
Cory: I wish Mom had brought us a snack to eat while we were there. A lot of people brought their lunch. We just had water.
Lark: I thought about catching one of the birds flying by. We were up as high as the birds. Or maybe a chipmunk. I saw one run across the trail.
Cory: I didn’t see it. But, then, you always have to be in the front and leave me and Mom in the back.
Lark: That’s because your backpack stinks. The trail was about three miles total. We could have turned back at Observation Point, but we did the whole trail. Then, we had to walk uphill on the road back to the parking lot. We were beat by the time we were done.
Cory: After that, we drove to an old mining town called Nuttallburg.
Lark: This is my story. Just hush. We drove way down into the gorge on a gravel road. Dad wasn’t sure we should keep going, but we did. The creek and waterfalls along the road were really pretty and Mom kept making Dad stop so she could take pictures.
Cory: Nuttallburg was built…
Lark: in 1873 by John Nuttall. It was one of almost fifty towns along the New River built to mine and process coal. Hundreds of feet above the New River was a seam of coal. Miners dug the coal from the deep inside the mountains, transported it to the river where it was processed into coke and shipped by rail hundreds of miles away.
Cory: Nuttallburg was made famous…
Lark: When it was leased to Henry Ford’s Fordson Coal Company in the 1920s. Ford made many improvements to the mine trying to implement vertical integration, controlling all aspects of production. His steel mills for the automobile plants needed coal. The problem was that Ford could not control the railroads needed to ship the coal.
Cory: Production of coal continued at Nuttallburg until…
Lark: The 1950s and then, the town became a ghost town like most of the other mining towns. All the buildings fell down except a few large mining buildings. At one time, it was a big town with houses, community center, hotel, schools and churches. All that’s left now are a large metal building, some machinery, a conveyor for transporting coal, some building foundations and lots of kudzu.
Cory: Kudzu is…
Lark: An invasive vine transported from Asia that is very hard to control and can take over a forest killing the trees very quickly.
Cory: Alright. I guess you aren’t going to let me talk. I’ll just be over here fact checking you.
Lark: I told you, I know a lot more than you think I know.
Cory: Okay, are you going to tell them about the bridge?
Lark: Which bridge?
Cory: The famous one that we drove over.
Lark: Oh, you mean the longest steel span in the western hemisphere and the third highest bridge in the United States?
Cory: Yeah, that one.
Lark: It was finished in 1977 and saves people from making a forty-minute drive down into the gorge to cross the river. It is a beautiful bridge with very pretty arches. Lots of people take pictures of it. I think our grandpa would like it.
Cory: Our grandpa?
Lark: Our human brother’s grandpa. Our human brother likes to go to Bridge Day on the third Saturday in October to watch the people jump or rappel off the bridge with parachutes.
Cory: Wait, isn’t the third Saturday in October tomorrow?
Lark: Yeah, but they aren’t doing it this year. Another cancellation due to Covid.
Cory: So, is that all you have to say about the New River Gorge?
Lark: That’s all for now. Except, I am pretty sure I will be back to raft the river.
Cory: Well, you will probably have to wear your boots so you don’t tear the raft with your toenails.
Lark: Hey, I’m a wild thing. Wild Things don’t wear boots!
Cory: And Wild Things don’t go rafting either.