Sunday, April 3, 2011

TW3 - Thinking of Elkins, West Virginia

I found myself thinking of Elkins, West Virginia this week. Elkins was just a sidetrack in my life but it is a recurring theme. For instance this blog is titled Sidetracked Charley probably due to Elkins. I was living and working in Washington, DC. Home was 604 A street NE and I worked in the New Senate Office Building (New SOB for short).

I was a mountain girl trying to work through the system for political change. Off hours I marched for peace (Vietnam war), saving the mini skirt (our right as women to chose our fashions) and the ERA (Equal Rights for Women which we never got). When I got sick of politics and homesick for mountains like Heidi I went to the Monongahela National Forest just outside Elkins, West Virgina.

The ability to climb a mountain and see for miles did a lot for my homesickness and urban claustrophobia but it rains a lot in the Blue Ridge Mountains of West Virginia. And even when it isn't raining the mists make you feel wet.

Instead of doing a lot of hiking we often did a lot of driving and taking in the scenery. We also took in the little folk art fairs. It was there I learned to spin from two sisters in their 70's and weave from their neighbors in the community center in Elkins.

I discovered all the crafts of the artisans on the Blue Ridge and the Firefox series of books on living skills that were vanishing.

I also discovered trains and old train stations of particular fascination. And near the Elkins railroad station I found about 300 abandoned rail cars on a clearing yard of the railroad in Elkins. It seems that a group was diverting cars from the main track and storing them in the little backwater. I was amazed at the number of rail cars that seemed grow with every visit.  Then the Washington Post broke the story of the sidetracked rolling stock. Every since there has been a deep sense of mystery and intrigue about trains and stations for me. I even lived right by a main line in Grand Junction, Colorado for a time.

And here in New Mexico I am a frequent visitor to the narrow gauge trains that now run as tourist attractions. I have vowed to return this summer to the Cumbres and Toltec and take some pictures with my Nikon D90. The one below I took with my film camera.

One little mountain town in the Blue Ridge Mountains which I went to in an effort to cure my homesickness for the Rocky Mountains altered my life. To this day trains, country crafts, spinning, and old survival skills hold prime place in my heart.


  1. A really enjoyable read J...the association of time and place is palpable.

  2. Thank you, Sir Mick. What a surprise. I had just been thinking nobody reads this blog.

  3. Great read and pictures. Fox fire, not fire fox, :). I still have the book. They were big with the back to the land crowd. I even tried making `leather britches beans`once. Inedible.


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