Thurmond West Virginia: Historic Train Town

Oh how I have missed riding the bike!

The passion for travel with my sweetie, the drive to elect women and men who share my values (ie the values of Presidents Obama and Carter), and the hours at work have diminished my time on the bike significantly.  The desire to ride, however, is ever present in my mind and two weeks ago, I finally had a weekend without travel. I spent one whole day riding 225 miles through Virginia and West Virginia. Happiness! The destination was Thurmond, West Virginia, an early 1900s boomtown.

We had many miles to ride before arriving in Thurmond, and our first stop was Bluestone Dam, a popular place for bass, catfish, crappie, and bluegill fishing.  After a brief stop to look at Bluestone Lake and dam, we were off through New River Gorge country.

  While the others took off down a gravel road, I stopped for some photography.  I did not know when shooting this image that I was looking towards the historic Thurmond bridge.

The bridge has been rebuilt and rehabbed a few times, but the original bridge was built in 1889.

If you know me, you know I love a bridge, and I had to park the bike and walk out to capture this image looking down into the river.

The view down river from the bridge

The National Park Service restored the Thurmond Depot as a Visitor’s Center in 1995, and the NPS has made learning the history of Thurmond a walkable experience.

Two major fires, the arrival of roads, and the switch from steam engine to diesel engine led to the town’s decline.  Thankfully, the outdoor adventure industry and commercial whitewater rafting through the New River Gorge National River, have revitalized the area.

“Presently, the park owns approximately 80% of the town of Thurmond, including the historic Thurmond Depot. Three times each week, Amtrak uses the Thurmond Depot as a passenger stop and coal trains continue to roll through town hourly.  Though it is a shell of its former self, the historic town of Thurmond still stands as a reminder of the past. It truly is where the River meets History”!

It was a gorgeous day, perfect for riding, only made better by being with good friends.  Learning some history just added to the experience.  One more thing: the movie Matewan was filmed in Thurmond, WVA.

Making Friends and Riding the Rails: Sydney to Melbourne

When last I posted, I’d told you about my amazing day in Sydney.  I then took a pause in the storytelling in order to visit all of you.  Somehow, almost a month has passed since I arrived back in the States, after enduring lots of up close and personal attention at the security checks along the way.  Now it’s time to resume the tale!

You may remember that I took the overnight train from Melbourne to Sydney.  Even though the day time train was taking the same route back to Melbourne, for this trip I’d be awake and able to see the countryside.

Some might consider an 11 hour train ride far too long, but I enjoyed the whole trip!  I chatted with those around me and learned a lot from the train Conductor, who after learning of my interest, would come tell me when something interesting was coming up.   I kept my camera on the scenery flying by and while none of these images will win awards, I liked the movement they convey.

I could have taken a plane but I really wanted to see the rural part of Australia.

You really can’t get a feel for the country from a plane, but the train opens the world to your eyes.

We stopped several times and when there was enough time, I’d jump off to look around.  My favorite story from the day was when we were pulling up to Albury .  The Conductor had let me know that the Albury Train Platform, at 455-metre-long (1,493 ft), was the longest in Australia.  As I walked to the door, a woman jumped up and asked me if I was going to get off at the stop, and after indicating that I was, she said she wanted to come, too.

It turns out that Lorraine (nick named Laurie – what a coincidence!) was traveling for the first time out of her home state of New South Wales.  She and her sister were headed for Melbourne and other parts of Victoria, and she was as excited to be traveling as I was.

Laurie asked me if I’d send her the photos that I took and I happily agreed, of course asking if I could take her photo as well.  What a joyful part of the ride!

The ride continued and the other passengers got used to seeing the happy American walking up and down the aisle, camera in hand.

Before I knew it, we were back in Melbourne.  After a slight challenge getting my luggage out of the locker in the station, I walked to my hotel, which while a 1/2 mile away, was all down hill.  Thank goodness for wheels on suitcases! As I crossed over the Yarra river, I was rewarded by this beautiful view.

I checked into my hotel, enjoyed a cold beer and dinner at the Belgian Beer Cafe that Boomdee had recommended, and prepared for the next day: driving the Great Ocean Road!

Travel: Trains and Bikes

It’s the beginning of the weekend, and while there is still one more day of work, I’m anticipating a weekend on the motorcycle.  YAY!

The images you see here are my recent contributions to Monochromia.

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If you haven’t visited Monochromia yet, please do! Photographers from around the world contribute some incredible B&W images to this blog, and several of those photographers, including me, will be meeting in NYC in October.

How cool is that?

My travels will prevent me from visiting each of you until next week.  Sending peaceful thoughts during tumultuous times.

Steam Heat

Don’t you just love seeing an old steam engine? They bring to mind history, and romance, and days gone by. Please visit Monochromia if you haven’t yet. You’ll see the work of a collaborative group of photographers, amateurs, and photo nuts from all parts of the world.  This is my contribution for the week.



“Yeah …. I’ve got  ::cling cling::  fsssss steam heat”

How many of you hummed that song as you read those words?  Or, sadly, how many of you have never heard of that 1954 song from The Pajama Game soundtrack?

For more images of the annual visit to my city by these historic steam engines, please check out the following links:

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Ride to Paint Bank

The meet time for the ride: 10:45.  The destination: Paint Bank, a small community in northern Craig County, Virginia.


The train depot dates back to 1909, when Paint Bank was the final stop of the Potts Valley Branch line of the Norfolk & Western Railway, which was expanded during the mining boom of the early 1900’s.


The lodge features a master suite, and 4 guest rooms each with private bath, and a gas fireplace.


The caboose has been renovated into a queen bedroom, complete with it’s own bath.


The Depot and the other buildings in Paint Bank have been beautifully renovated and visitors can shop in the General Store, eat in the Swinging Bridge Restaurant (which really does have a swinging bridge inside it), and explore the water powered Grist Mill.


I’ve ridden to Paint Bank several times through the years and it’s a great place for a stop along the way.  Someday I’ll have to stay the night!

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It was a misty ride back over the mountains towards home, but despite the dark storm clouds only a few of the 160 miles we rode were truly rainy.  Another fun ride in the books.

And oh yes!

The best sign I saw along the road today was in front of a church: “Noah should have slapped those 2 mosquitos”


Virginia’s Eastern Shore

The day dawned and brought with it a hint of sun, a welcome change from the previous 3 days.


My plan was to travel over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel to the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  Tucked between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, the Eastern shore is “defined by two elements: the fertile land and the water”.


I looked forward to going over the 17.6 mile Bay Bridge Tunnel and was happy to find that it had a visitors center and pier midway across the bay.  Well you know me … I just had to stop and walk all the way out to the end of the pier before heading on my way.




It fascinates me that cars travelthrough a tunnel under the water in the break between the two rock edges.


Once back on the road, and knowing that I’d have much more time to explore the Eastern Shore the next day, I pushed on up to Bethany Beach, Delaware.  After a short but wonderful visit with dear friends, I set out to explore a bit.  On a borrowed bike, I hit a pretty bikeway which ultimately led me to the Indian River Inlet Bridge.

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The view of the ocean and the Delaware Seashore State Park was beautiful.




Every bike ride should end with a cold beer, at least in my opinion, and I found that, and fish tacos, at Hammerheads Dockside. It was just the fuel I needed for the ride back over the bridge.  After that, it was a quick visit to the beach and time to settle in for the evening.





The next morning, I was up early for the drive back down the Eastern Shore.  I stopped in Cape Charles, a town founded in 1884 as the southern terminus of the New York, Philidelphia, and Norfolk Railroad.  Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this train town also boasts a water tower that looks like a lighthouse.






I found my way down to the bay and within minutes, I was out of my shoes, had rolled up my pants, and was enjoying the feel of the sand and the water.






The next stop was the Eastern Shore Wildlife Refuge.  “Located at the tip of the Delmarva Peninsula, this area is one of the most important avian migration funnels in North America. Each fall, like colorful clockwork, the refuge is the scene of a spectacular drama as millions of songbirds and monarch butterflies and thousands of raptors converge on their voyage south”.

In addition to photography, the refuge offers the visitor opportunities for fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing, and education.



I wish I’d had a kayak with me this day!

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All to0 soon, it was time to start the trip back home to the mountains.  While disappointed to leave the water and marine life, it was time to get home to prepare for my first post-wreck bike trip.

Next Up:  Kentucky

Here She Comes!

The day was beautiful so while on the way home after a lovely visit with friends, I pulled the truck over along the New River.  It was the middle of the day and the sun was bright.


Only a couple minutes had gone by before I heard the familiar whistle of an approaching train.


We love our trains here in the New River Valley (you may remember a post about the steam engines that recently came through).


Once the train had passed over the trestle, I reflected (pardon the pun) on the fact that from this view the new Memorial Bridge can be seen in the distance, and the remains of the old, original train trestle as well.


The beauty of the river, the architecture of the trestle, and the romance of a train … not a bad way to spend a few moments.