Wednesday, October 4, 2017

West Virginia Part 2

Beautiful scenery as we continued our trip into West Virginia.

Looking down on the New River Gorge from the interstate.

We arrived at Stonewall Jackson State Park Resort which is owned by the state of West Virginia but is managed by a private company. 

The resort has a lodge, swimming pools, several restaurants, an Arnold Palmer signature golf course, hiking trails, biking trails, and a beautiful RV park right on the lake.

In the distance is the RV park where many locals bring their rig and boat and spend the weekend on the lake.

A large walking bridge carries you over one section of the lake where the lodge and other amenities are located.

Boat tours are also available.

We noticed several large swans on the golf course.  It took awhile before we realized they were not real.  One of the golfers told us he's not sure if the complex keeps the fake swans on the course to bring in real swans or to keep the real ones away.

The lake is very large so the pups were able to get in for a swim during their daily hikes.  

Other than the resort and the state park there isn't much to do in the area.  There was one major attraction in the nearby  town of Weston which was a few miles away.  It is considered one of the top attractions in all of West Virginia so we decided to drive into Weston and check it out.

The part of Weston we visited is the old part of town that has been through some tough times.

There were a few historic homes and businesses.

But for the most part, the main attraction is what brings tourists into this part of town.

This is the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.

The hospital was authorized by the Virginia Assembly  in the early 1850's.  They allocated $125,000 to build the asylum on 269 acres along the West Fork River opposite downtown Weston.  Using a philosophy called "Moral Treatment", they theorized that buildings designed to admit abundant light and air could help cure patients. 

It is the largest hand-cut stone masonry building in North America.  It has 242,000 square feet over four floors, is 1,296 feet long, and has 921 windows and 906 doors. The walls are two and a half feet thick with a 200-foot tall clock tower stretching up through the center that still works today.

Construction began in 1858 but was interrupted by the outbreak of the American Civil War.  

This section was the first part of the hospital that was completed before the Civil War began.

Following its secession from the United States, the government of Virginia demanded the return of the hospital's unused construction funds. Before this could occur, the 7th Ohio Volunteer Infantry seized the money from a local bank and delivered it to Wheeling.  It was put towards the establishment of the Reorganized Government of Virginia, which sided with the northern states during the war. The Reorganized Government of Virginia eventually became the state of West Virginia in 1863. 

The first patient was admitted in 1864 but construction of the hospital continued until 1881.  The 200 foot central clock tower was completed in 1871. The hospital was to be self-sufficient, and a farm, dairy, waterworks, and cemetery were located on the property.

Dorothea Dix, an advocate for the insane, was Superintendent of Nurses for the Union Army during the Civil War.  She set the standard for nurses and those rules were used in hiring for the insane asylum.  Nurses must be between the ages of 35-50, never married, no children, and homely.  Dix wanted to avoid sending vulnerable, attractive women into the hospital where she feared they would be exploited by the men (doctors as well as patients).
This building, once the psychiatric unit, was used to house people with tuberculosis. Today they use it as a haunted house each fall. 

Some of the reasons you could be committed to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.

There were many, many other reasons so the hospital quickly became full.  Originally designed to house 250 patients in solitude, the hospital held 717 patients by 1880, 1,661 in 1938, over 1,800 in 1949; and at its peak, 2,600 in the 1950s in overcrowded conditions.  The asylum was forcibly closed in 1994 due to changes in treatments of patients.  In 2007, the building was bought by a private party and is now open for tours and other money raising events for its restoration.

Many sections of the hospital have not been restored yet but the owner has completed some floors.

Plaster falling off the walls is one of many problems.

A picture of a patient wing when the hospital was still in operation.

The nurse would stay in this room with a window to oversee what the patients were doing.  The hospital was often under-staffed.

A typical room for a single patient if the hospital wasn't so overcrowded.

Wood blocks on the walls used as handrails to help the infirm.

A gathering room in one of the wards.

An operating room.

An x-ray machine.

The morgue.

These were rooms for patients who were dangerous.  There was a screened door and a heavy metal door.  This was not the section where the criminally insane were kept.  That was in a different area and another tour that we chose not to attend.

The asylum building is made of of many different sections and connected by long hallways.  It would be so easy to get lost in this place.

There was a second floor in the main hall where the doctor and his family lived and a third floor for the nurses.  These floors have been restored to represent how they looked while the hospital was still open.  

The second floor landing to the doctor's quarters.

The doctor also had his own study.

And a library.

Down the hall was an apothecary for the doctor.

The nurses had their quarters on the third floor but they had to share the rooms with other nurses.

Most were two to a room.

I guess if you are middle aged, single, and homely this is a pretty good gig.

The red moulding you see is not made of wood.  It is plaster created by artisans. 

This strange shot is the stairwell going from the first floor up to the fourth.  An inmate decided to jump over the side from the top floor because he had been fasting and thought he was skinny enough to get between the rails.  It didn't turn out well.

This large room of the insane asylum was used for parties and dances by the people in the community.

Occasionally they had a get-together for the people inside the hospital and this is a quote from one of the patients who was allowed to attend.

You can see these faces on many of the outside columns.  The inmates thought the faces brought them good luck.

The front lawn of the insane asylum with the town of Weston in the distance. The tour was interesting, but sad, and I would never want to take it again.

We moved on to another part of the state and wound up in Marietta, Ohio, which is just across the Ohio River from West Virginia.   The reason we stayed here was because there weren't any RV parks on the WV side.

Crossing the Ohio River to Marietta.
Marietta was established in 1788 as the first permanent settlement of the new United States in the Territory Northwest of the Ohio River.  It is located in southeastern Ohio at the mouth of the Muskingum River where it meets with the Ohio River.

Along the Muskingum River are paddle wheel boats for touring or to take a trip down the river.

For many years the Ohio River overflowed its banks and flooded the town until in 1929 a series of locks and dams were built to help control the water flow in the river.  Markers along the river show how high the water rose during several devastating floods.

The poles represent the height of flooding that happened in Marietta.  The highest was 60.3 in 1913 but even in 1937 the waters rose to 55 feet.

This mural painted on one of the downtown buildings replicates a photo of the flooded front street in January, 1937, with a student from Marietta College rowing down it in a boat.

All along the Muskingum River there are miles of walking and biking trails.  In some areas there are even two trails, one for the bikers and another for the walkers.  Many people use these trails every day walking their dogs or just enjoying the beauty of the two rivers. 

The B & O Harman Bridge was built as a covered bridge in 1856, converted to railroad use in 1937, and then back to foot traffic in 1962.  It was rebuilt four times after being damaged by floods.  You can walk across it to another side of Marietta and view some of the beautiful old homes that overlook the two rivers.

The Barber House was built in 1829 for Levi Barber, a surveyor, merchant, and U.S. Congressman.
Views from the Barber House where the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers meet.

The walking bridge.

Downtown Marietta across the river.

More lovely old homes with a stellar view.
 In 1803 Meriwether Lewis arrived in Marietta aboard a keel boat to begin his expedition to explore the West.  He wrote this letter to the President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, regarding his stop in Marietta.

We found this Gothic Revival home in another area of Marietta. It is called 'The Castle'  and was built in 1855 by Melvin Clarke, a lawyer who died in the Civil War at Antietam.

Nearby we saw other beautiful old homes and across the street from the homes is the Mound Cemetery.

Mounds and earthworks were created between 800 B.C. and 700 A.D. by prehistoric Moundbuilders who were the first farmers and artisans in the Ohio Valley and Marietta is the site of a Moundbuilders city. The mound was where they buried their chieftans. 

Marietta was also the first white settlement in the Northwest Territory under the leadership of Rufus Putnam. The pioneers were officers and soldiers of the American Revolution who received land grants for their service.  Many of those soldiers were buried here beside the ancient inhabitants.

Tombstones of the early pioneers with the ancient burial mound in the background.

There are steps leading to the top of the mound where you can look down to the cemetery below.
A listing of some of the Revolutionary soldiers who are buried in the Mound Cemetery.

These flags and markers honor Revolutionary soldiers who were buried in Washington County, Ohio, but their graves are unknown.

Our final adventure was to take an excursion on a riverboat down the Ohio River.

It was a warm, sunny day and the upper deck was covered offering us a grand view.

Under one of the bridges that cross the Mushingum River are these nests used by cliff swallows.  The bridge was completed in sections and before the middle section was in place these birds had already taken up residence.  They said an estimated 500 swallows come back every year to these nests and it is quite a sight to see.

The mighty Ohio River.

The historic Lafayette Hotel on the Ohio River.  The white colored brick shows the height of the water from the 1913 flood.

The path in front of the name is where voyagers on riverboats would land and walk up to visit the town of Marietta.

The Ohio River has all kinds of activity.

There are many islands in the middle of the Ohio River and over the years the land has been deeded to the state and turned into wildlife refuges. 

The paddle wheel created a rainbow as we rode down the river.

Newer homes along the river with wonderful views.

We had an enjoyable stay in Marietta learning about its heritage and seeing some wonderful sights.  Now back to West Virginia to head further north and find other adventures.
Peace !

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