Davis and the Potomac Highlands
Our last few days in West Virginia were spent in the Potomac Highlands. We also stayed here on our last visit, in a cabin near Seneca Rocks. This time we were headed for Davis, but on the way we had lunch in the Front Porch Restaurant at Harper’s Old Country Store which overlooks the Rocks. We ate here at least twice in 2008, and it was just as we remembered it. We didn’t have time to repeat the trail up the Rocks though – the restaurant picture below is this year, and the pictures of Seneca Rocks are all 2008.
Before continuing with this year’s holiday diary, I’m including the gallery below from our earlier trip. We did several hikes around Spruce Knob, Dolly Sods and the South Branch of the Potomac. I remember being quite spooked on the South Branch Loop which was almost like a ghost trail. It was in our guidebook (relatively recent at the time) but completely overgrown. The picture at the bottom right is supposed to be a road, and the car-park and associated buildings were closed up and run down. Towards the end of the trail, the grass was literally above our heads and I was worried that we’d never find our way out! We didn’t see another soul.
We covered a fair few miles this time as well, at Blackwater Falls (the best falls we saw all holiday) and Canaan Valley, both the State Park and the National Wildlife Refuge. To British eyes, a wildlife refuge with helpful signs and leaflets about hunting made very little sense at all! However, it was a beautiful walk (Beall Loop) through meadows and woodland and along the riverbank.
Davis itself was founded in the 1880s as a logging town, and by 1902 it had around 3000 inhabitants. Now it has fewer than 700 and there really wasn’t much more to the main street than what you can see below. However, despite being small, it was the most veggie-aware place we had stayed so far with more than the usual veggie burgers or pasta / pizza on offer. The Bright Morning Inn was lovely, a former lumberjacks’ boarding-house, with another great owner. Susan chatted to us over breakfast each morning and the trails we followed were largely on her recommendation (she knew what she was talking about!)
A few miles away was Thomas, a similar town but one that had been based on coal mining rather than logging. Now, the old buildings were being restored and a self-guided walking tour established, so we enjoyed a stroll round here one afternoon.
On our way out of West Virginia, we took a detour to visit the Nancy Hanks Memorial which marks, roughly, the spot where Abraham Lincoln’s mother was born in 1782. We also visited Fort Mill Ridge just outside Romney, a Union fortification from the Civil War with some of the best preserved trenches still existing. This was made more poignant because each information board had an extract from the letters and diaries of Private Joshua Winters. In the example below, on June 6 1863, he writes: “Well Anne I have just com off of dress praid and will finish your letter: we drill one hour every morning before breckfist. We ar on gard every third day. I guess thay are about dun with the fort and the intrenchments, then our deuty wont bee so heavy.” I do hope he made it safely home to Anne.