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Forget Black Friday…Shop Small Business Saturday

Small business Saturday is this weekend, just after the insane rush of Black Friday. Skip fighting the crowds and buy local.

Why? Because it puts your money back into your community. It supports your neighborly entrepreneurs. And because you can only find unique, one-of-a-kind gifts from small shops.

Our area is full of interesting places to browse and buy. In fact, 90% or more of West Virginia’s businesses are small and locally-managed.

Southern WV has a smorgasbord of specialty shops to support this Small Business Saturday, here are just a few from our list:

Gauley River Pottery

Not only does Gauley River Pottery have a full range of ceramic gifts on the shelves, Mary Bethune and John Ackison, the owners

Gauley River Pottery

Gauley River Potterygifts on the shelves, Mary Bethune and John Ackison, the owners

and artists, create more pieces daily in the shop. Visitors can
watch the process.

“They can see it go from a lump of clay to art,” Bethune said.
“Not a lot of people get to see pottery ring made anymore. The
traditional arts are becoming lost arts.”

The pair have been molding mugs, serveware and dishes,
ornamental fish and birds, wave bowls and more for 20 years at the shop and studio.

“They’re all decorative, but everything we do is functional as well,” she said. “We use a lot of greens, and a sort of runny blue-green. But we have a lot of solid colors to go with anything.”

In addition to an array of great gifts that grows each day, including many for $25 or less, Gauley River Pottery creates custom works. It takes about a month to complete a custom piece, so Bethune said there was still time to get orders in for the holidays.

The Cheese N More Store in Monroe

From food to furniture, the Cheese N More Store is full of  homemade treasures.

The shelves are stocked with top-quality spices, savory lunch meats and an assortment of fine cheeses. You can stop in for a fresh sandwich, or take home jams, relishes and candy. You can even try a handmade pepperoni roll, a WV favorite.

After  you’re full, there’s more to explore in the shop. Handcrafted lawn furniture and gazebos are among the artisan works.

The drive in, scenic and beautiful, is part of the experience, as is the friendly, attentive staff, who will help you find the perfect gifts.

Harmony Ridge Gallery in Greenbrier County

Walk into Harmony Ridge Gallery, and you’ll be immediately

Harmony Ridge Gallery

Harmony Ridge Gallery

struck by the diverse and unique selection, from towering
re-purposed metal sculptures to quirky layered clocks.

“Everything we sell is made by people, not companies,” said
Aaron Maxwell. “Our business is about people. People making
things. With small businesses like ours, you find unique items
that are special.”

The award-winning, American-made only gallery was named the top
large gallery by Niche in 2011 for curating such an interesting
and diverse selection of handcrafted pieces.

Other items you might find as you stroll the 4,000 square feet
of artistic display are jewelry, ceramics, authentic Blenko
glass, artisan purses, and toys for children, which Maxwell said
it can be difficult to find American-made.

“We’ve been in Lewisburg for 9 years, and we pride ourselves on the fact that if someone wants to buy handcrafted American goods, whether they have $2 or $200, they can find it here,” he said.

For the holidays, they’re offering complimentary gift wrap, and serving up hot cider to sip while you shop, from their in-house coffee boutique and wine bar.

Wisteria’s Gifts in Fayetteville, WV

Find the gifts you seek with a Southern twist. Wisteria carries internationally-renowned brands like Pandora, Vera Bradley and Glory Haus alongside locally-made crafts from WV Grown, Fenton Glass and others.

From limited edition brand names to one-of-a-kind local woks, Wisteria’s Gifts is packed with unique items to browse.

You can also look through a hand-selected offering of antiques, prized pieces of the past, handed through generations, with stories to tell and more memories to share.

Dazzle someone with specialty jewelry, or surprise them with a lovely local work from Wisteria’s.

The Otter & Oak General Store & Art Gallery in Hinton, WV

In a renovated building standing since 1906, the self proclaimed

Otter and Oak, Hinton, WV

Otter and Oak, Hinton, WV

“not-so-general store” at Otter & Oak has a full local art
gallery upstairs, which overlooks the little-bit-of-everything
shopping selections below.

You can find boldly flavored local foods, artisan pottery,  durable outdoor gear, handmade soaps, Snoozies slippers and apparel… a sampling of quality finds of all sorts.

The shop caters to local crafters, with soaps, eyewear, cards, clothing and more from artists nearby.

“If people support these smaller businesses in town, the town itself will prosper and grow,” said Linda Seldomidge. “People will want to move in and visit, and it will make Hinton a better place to live.”

Seldomidge noted that some of her favorite holiday gifts at the shop were the ones that keep you cozy for winter: the locally-made texting gloves that allow people to use their phones while keeping their hands warm, and the Snoozies slippers. She also said the all-natural soy and beeswax candles were popular around the holidays.

& more

There are hundreds more unique, small shops to support this Saturday. Coffee Beans & Books in Beaver will have discounts all day long. The Beckley Art group will be bringing together independent local artisans for a Gift Fair at the Cynthia Bickey Gallery, which will run through Saturday.

If you look at the official Small Business Saturday map, you’ll can find shops near you. If you register your American Express card and purchase $10 or more at a participating small business, you can get $10 back.

Stop in somewhere local, and tell us about your unique finds.

Who are you supporting this Small Business Saturday?

We Are Thankful in Southern WV

As Thanksgiving nears, we’re reflecting on the wonderful things Southern West Virginians share to be thankful for.

Southern WV is a beautiful, culturally-tied and unique region of this Appalachian Mountain State. Here are just a few of the things we’re most proud of, and honored to live among:

A lively history of independence

New River Gorge

New River Gorge

Born from conflict, the State of West Virginia earned its independence when it split from its sister state in the Civil War. But even before that, our mountain ranges and rough terrain made travel difficult, and we were more isolated than a lot of the country. That instilled a deep sense of self-reliance. When you have to do it yourself, you create new ways to do it better, which creates a culture of ingenuity.

Strong sense of community

Southern West Virginians might be independent, but we watch out for others, too. We value more than family; we value people and humanity. Southern WV raises kind, generous folks. If you need a hand with a home project, your car broke down, or you just want a friendly ear, chances are you can find it tucked into any town or hollow in Southern WV.
Mom and Pop Shops

There’s nothing like a home cooked meal from a local restaurant, or supporting an entrepreneur from just down the road. More than 90% of businesses in West Virginia are small businesses, and we love to support our neighbors’ ventures.

From the culinary creations of Delfino’s Pizza and Ice Cream and The Corner Shop Soda Fountain to the quaint shops like Grandma’s House and Marathon Bicycle Company, nearly every town corner rounds to a family-owned or small business. And we’ve already got our shopping lists together for Small Business Saturday.

Lush, rolling wilderness

Grandview

Grandview

One of the greatest assets of the Mountain State is its landscape. We have a backyard of rolling mountains, rushing rivers, steep cliff-sides and lush forests perfect for any outdoor adventure. From the summertime rafting to the winter ski slopes, the West Virginia wilderness is always calling us to play.

Heritage ties and charming culture

Our heritage is a complex, formed from a diverse history and generations of passing on, molding and preserving Appalachia’s roots. The family’s cozy hand-sewn quilts. The way grandpa used to say “Oh, fiddle!” when he was frustrated. Mom’s hand-molded pie crusts. Buying home-canned samples of the season’s harvest.

We do appreciate and celebrate the old fashioned, while embracing the modern. Making room for change has never made us question or forget our past. In Southern West Virginia, you can feel like you stepped back to a simpler time, but also enjoy the cutting-edge comforts and conveniences.

Easy living and the little things

Babcock State Park - Glade Creek Gristmill

Babcock State Park – Glade Creek Gristmill

Porch sitting as a pastime in Southern West Virginia, because we learn the value of some quiet time… and a relaxing rocking chair. We say “thank you” as a habit, because it’s important to acknowledge what you have, what you receive, and what others do for you.

Thanksgiving is a day to honor a tradition we observe year round: appreciating things. Even the tiniest of life’s pleasures can make a day worthwhile, and we learn to stop and take notice.

We’re thankful for a lot more. Give us a visit and you’ll see why. Enjoy our unique old-timey heritage, our forest wilderness and our kind hospitality. Part of that hospitable nature is sharing!

What are you thankful for?

Thanksgiving Day Dinner, Sides & More (that YOU don’t have to cook!)

What are you bringing to Thanksgiving Day dinner?

This Thanksgiving you can bring a dish to dazzle your family, order a full Thanksgiving Day feast or enjoy  a wonderful holiday buffet in a beautiful setting.

wildflourpecanpie

Wild Flour Bakery Pecan Pie

Add a little something extra to your holiday meal with the flavors of Southern West Virginia. The best part? You don’t have to do any of the cooking, and it’s guaranteed to turn out delicious.

Here are a few Southern WV restaurants with shareable treats and  feasts on hand to help you this holiday.

Honey Baked Ham (Beckley, WV)

Pair the light, savory turkey with a dark, decadent ham. You can order a fully cooked, spiral carved honey-glazed ham  from the Honey Baked Ham Company to take to your table with pride. If you need a  turkey, you can get one of those to go, too, lightly glazed and cooked to be perfectly succulent.

The Corner Shop (Bramwell, WV)

This Bramwell diner does everything old-fashioned, and their dishes and desserts are homestyle crafted without exact recipes, adjusted with tender tastes to perfection. They get their fruits fresh from local farms, including the owners’ own family farm, so the pies and cobblers are full of flavor. Call ahead to see what The Corner Shop is baking up, and grab a sizable portion to share.

Food & Friends Restaurant (Lewisburg, WV)

In addition to their menu and daily specials for dining in, Food and Friends sells chocolates, from salty and sweet dipped pretzels to decadent truffles of all flavors. Pick an assortment of treats for everyone in the family: espresso, orange, or rich dark chocolate.  After you have your sweet tooth taken care of, there are options for baked goods and more in Lewisburg.

Wild Flour Bakery (Fayetteville, WV)

Pick up something distinctly WV that fits into your traditional Thanksgiving perfectly. Wild Flour‘s pepperoni rolls are large, soft dinner rolls, with a Southern WV surprise inside: pepperoni and cheese. The pepperoni roll is the state food, and it’s simplicity doesn’t do its flavor justice. For a little extra flavor, Wild Flour also bakes up a honey wheat version.

King Tut’s Drive-In (Beckley, WV)

How about a classic? King Tut’s Drive-In takes advance orders for whole pies, and they bake up pumpkin seasonally. If someone’s already covering the pumpkin pie, bring an alternative: baked apple, banana cream or cherry cream. Or, a sweet lovers’ favorite, chocolate cream. Be sure to call 24 hours in advance to place your order.

Tudor’s Biscuit World (Multiple Southern WV locations)

Nobody makes biscuits like Appalachia makes biscuits. While their breakfast sandwiches are great first thing in the morning, Tudor’s plain biscuits are also a perfect complement to your turkey dinner. Order up a dozen, and warm them in the oven just before serving them with a selection of jams and jellies.

Coffee Beans & Books (Beaver, WV)

Here’s something a little different to share: coffee. Get some 1-pound bags of the special blends (including holiday flavors) from Coffee Beans and Books, and brew it fresh for a pre-dinner treat while the turkey’s getting its final touches, or as a post-meal excuse for everyone to hang around and indulge more and chat with your loved ones. Or, dip the beans in chocolate, and set them around the table for a little chocolate kick during dinner.

Tamarack (Beckley, WV)

Tamarack, The best of West Virginia is making it easy to grab a home style meal, whipping up full Thanksgiving dinners, or sides and pies for pickup. To feed the whole family (if your cooking-averse or the turkey turns out… not so edible) simply call ahead to place a full order of roasted turkey with cornbread stuffing, buttermilk mashed potatoes and 9 other side selections, along with your choice of 2 warmly-baked pies. Or, opt for just a few more menu items to round out your table.

The Resort at Glade Springs (Daniels, WV)

Or, skip bringing a dish and treat the family to a full buffet of options from Glade Springs‘ chef. Join your loved ones in the ballroom for everything from the succulent turkey to the sweet pumpkin pie. You can even get a great holiday room rate with their Thanksgiving Package, and turn it into a holiday getaway.

Which Southern WV restaurant’s dish do you want to have at your table this Thanksgiving?

A Day at Smooth Ambler

Enjoy this post by Maura Johnson, Visit Southern WV, about the experience she and Becky Satterfield had bottling at Smooth Ambler! 

It all started off with a Facebook post asking for volunteers to help bottle Smooth Ambler Old Scout Bourbon. “Come put your name on some bottles! We will feed you lunch and give you a shirt.”

Sold! So we arrived at the distillery around 10 a.m., not really knowing what to expect. We were eager to see how this whole bottling thing worked.

Our first task, which appeared super easy, was preparing the labels for the bottles. Write the date and batch number and initial every sticker. This was an easy job for the first 30minutes, then I realized I had drifted into la-la land and messed up about 10 stickers, and I had to go back and fix them (Shh, don’t tell). I fixed my last sticker just before we were called to start bottling.

Now I am a little worried: what are they going to have us do? I had a hard time with those stickers!

campcarverrd

Old Scout Bourbon Whiskey #visitwv

We walk into the distillery. All of the Smooth Ambler Spirits are produced in a magnificent 650-liter Christian Carl Pot Still and 350-gallon Vendome Still. Vodka, Whiskey, Gin and more.

I am not really sure how I thought those little bottles got the way they were, but I was about learn. To help make things go in an orderly fashion, they set up stations:

  •  Check the weight of the bottles, sanitize, and fill them.
  •  Cork them.
  •  Place plastic caps on top of the corks.
  • Use what looked like a blow dryer to seal the bottle.
  •  Roll the Old Scout Bourbon Whiskey labels on.
  •  Dress the bottle, putting the ribbon and the Smooth Ambler sealing sticker on the neck.
  •  Inspect the bottles to make sure all of the above was completed and in the correct spots.

Everything had to be lined up correctly, or it would not pass. The bottles were wiped off and placed in the box to ship,
and then you repeat.

I know you’re thinking all of this might not sound like a big deal, but it was hard work! It was all done by hand,
with only a few machines to help. Having someone at every station to do their part was very important.

I felt like the “Laverne & Shirley” episode where they could not keep up, except it was a bourbon and not beer. We bottled for hours and hours and still, when I looked at how much was left, I thought I was not going to make it. One bottle passes through so many hands just to make a finished product.

But the finished product really was something to be proud of. It also gave me a greater appreciation when I go to the store and look at the different bottling designs. I now don’t just rip into a bottle of whatever I am drinking. I take my sweet time, and appreciate the hard work that went into that bottle.

The Smooth Ambler Distillery bottling experience was fun. You are greeted by their great staff, who make you feel at home.  They have a tasting room, and you can go on a tour, or help them when they have these bottling parties (which are posted on the Smooth Ambler Facebook page).

Oh, and ladies, they even have a little store. Try the Blueberry Vodka Cardinals. Yum!

Smooth Ambler now has the assistance of a new bottling machine that will cut out some of the manual labor. We
can’t wait to go back and see the difference it makes.

Thanks, Smooth Ambler, for allowing us to bottle with you!

COMING HOME

I moved from West Virginia in the 1950’s. There was family back there to go back and visit. In later years wanted my children and grandchildren to see where I was born and raised. We have been going back and staying at the state parks. They really love the beauty of the mountains.

Name: MARY ALICE

Submitted by MARY ALICEGOINS

Vacation-2013-014

Twin Falls Resort State Park on a late fall day. #visitwv #visitwv

Twin Falls Resort State Park on a late fall day. #visitwv #visitwv

Bring a little Appalachia to your Thanksgiving Day Table

Add a little bit of Appalachia to your table this Thanksgiving.

Southern West Virginia is home to some mouth-watering traditional home cooking. You can bring a bit of that country style to your kitchen.

Start with the stuffing. Add a few finely chopped ramps to the mix. The wild onions have an extra strong kick, and they’re a staple of Southern WV cuisine.

campcarverrd

Are you coming “home” for Thanksgiving?

Then, try some seriously Southern WV sides: Stir up some soup beans, which are dried beans flavored with smoked pork or bacon. Or, try some chicken and dumpling soup as a pre-turkey appetizer.

Fried green tomatoes are a must! Crusted with golden-brown cornmeal, they’re best served still warm.

Now to give your dinner rolls some flavor: bake up some sweet cornbread instead. Top it with a little West Virginia-made honey, or fresh apple butter.

If you want to get really authentic really easily, stuff some pepperoni and cheese inside your rolls. Welcome to our state secret: the pepperoni roll. Serve it warm while the pepperoni’s oils are infused with the bun.

We’d tell you that it’s also okay to eat pepperoni rolls room temperature, too, because they keep very well… but we doubt you’ll have leftovers.

These suggestions are just a start. If you want a real authentic flavor, try these family recipes:

“My grandparents raised two gardens every year, one they ate from and one they canned for later. Vegetables were abundant. So here are a couple of alternative side dishes that we had growing up here in WV. ” Kay Bess, Marketing Director, Visit Southern WV

Winter Vegetable Gratin

1 large baking potato, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups sliced onion, turnip, rutabaga and/or carrot
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup half and half
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese

In a skillet, combine potatoes, vegetables and broth. Season with salt and
pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer; covered, 15 minutes or
till nearly tender. Stir together half and half and cornstarch. Pour over
potatoes and simmer until thickened. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Mock Mashed Potatoes

1 head fresh cauliflower
1 tsp chicken boullion granules
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 tbsp. finely minced onion
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. heavy cream

Cook cauliflower on stove or in microwave till VERY done, fork tender.
Drain well and mix cauliflower with all other ingredients except cream with
a mixer. Add cream slowly and mix again. You can add more cream if you
like creamier mashed potatoes or less if you like them thick. Place in a
baking dish that is buttered or sprayed with Pam. You can add extra pats of
butter on top and a dash of paprika for color. Bake 15-20 minutes in 375
oven. 4-6 servings.

Note – this tastes nothing like cauliflower, most people cannot tell the
difference.

Don’t Forget Dessert!

Fresh Chocolate Apple Cake

2 3/4 cup flour, 2 cups sugar, 2/3 cup cocoa 1 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp cinnamon, 3/4 tsp salt, 3 eggs, 1 cup oil, 1 cup buttermilk, 2 tsp vanilla, 2 cups shredded tart apples,drained, 1 cup nuts ( I prefer walnuts).

Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. set aside. Combine eggs, oil, buttermilk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat with mixer on low speed till blended. Gradually add dry ingredients, stir in apples and nuts till mixed. Pour into greased and floured BUNDT pan. Bake 350 60-65 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, then remove from pan.

Chocolate Caramel Glaze

Melt 2 tbsp. butter in small saucepan over low heat. Add 2 tbsp. cocoa and 2 tbsp. caramel ice cream topping. Stil until thick. Remove from heat and beat in 1 cup confectioners sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla or almond extract. Pour over hot cake.

Fresh Peach Ice Cream Cake

Before baking cake, spoon one quart peach ice cream into an 8 inch round pan and freeze.

Mix 3 cups thinly sliced fresh or canned peaches (well drained) with cinnamon and nutmeg and let stand in refrigerator till ready to use.

Next, begin cake

4 egg whites, 2 cups all purpose flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 cup shortening, 1 3/4 cups sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 1/3 cups buttermilk.

Beat shortening, sugar and vanilla till creamy. add egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each. Add flour mixture and buttermilk till well blended on low speed. Spread in two 9 inch round cake pans that have been greased and floured. Bake 20-25 minutes 350. Cool 10 minutes, remove from pan.

Assemble cake by placing one cake layer on a plate. Add half of the peach mixture, then add the frozen peach ice cream layer.

Add second cake layer and the rest of the peach mixture. Cover with foil and freeze. When ready to serve cake, remove from freezer and ice top and side with icing. Decorate with shaved white chocolate. Serve immediately and re-freeze any remainder.

Crème Fraiche Frosting

1 8 oz cream cheese, softened, 1 8 oz sour cream, 1 cup whipping cream, 1 cup confectioners sugar, 1 tsp vanilla.

Combine cream cheese, sour cream, whipping cream, confectioners sugar and beat till it holds peaks. Store in refrigerator till ready to serve cake.

This cake is a litte work, but so impressive and delicious you will get rave reviews.

Spa Getaways in WV

There are getaways . . . then there are spa getaways.

The relaxing atmosphere at Creekside Resort & Spa

The relaxing atmosphere at Creekside Resort & Spa

Don’t underestimate the relaxing, healing ability of a good massage.

Seriously. If you want to pamper yourself, a spa treatment can do wonders.

There are tons of types of treatments. What are you looking for? Relaxation? Something for your skin? To treat aches and pains?

Here are a few suggestions for amazing spa treatments in Southern WV, based on what you want them to do.

Relax & De-stress
Want a relaxing getaway? Start with a Swedish massage from Creekside Resort & Spa. Release your tensions with long, rhythmic strokes. If you’re not comfortable with someone else massaging you, you can dip into a Flower Bath Tea Soak at Pipestem Spa. Filled with essential oils and flower petals, the soothing scent and calming warmth of he bath will melt your cares away.

For a full de-stressing immersion, try Pipestem’s Relaxing Spa Massage, which can include aromatherapy, hot stones and body scrubs.

Need something a bit more intense to help you wind down from a really stressful week? Try an Aromatherapy Massage

Spa Orange at  The Resort at Glade Springs

Spa Orange at
The Resort at Glade Springs

from Spa Orange at Glade Springs Resort, with scents to help calm you. A Hot Stone Massage from Creekside will also lure out your stresses and send them on their way.

For the full effect, try an Escape From Stress Package, which will not only get you 2 de-stressing massages of your choice, but also a facial and a take-home skin cleanser to continue the stress-free feeling even after you go home.

Soothe Skin
Is your skin glowing? Give it that glamour back with a calming Back Facial from Pipestem, which will exfoliate and nourish your skin.

Or indulge in a body wrap. Choose from herbal linen wraps, mud wraps, milk and honey wraps, and many more. You can relax during your wrap, usually while getting a relaxing massage while the treatment sets in.

Detox
Cleanse your body of the toxins riddling it with a Detoxifying Wrap at Spa Orange, where you’ll also get to sit back and enjoy a stomach massage as your masseuse hits pressure points on your feet.

Pipestem Spa

Pipestem Spa

Or opt for Raindrop Therapy at Pipestem. Detoxifying oils will be dripped along your spine and gently massaged in, then covered with a hot towel to allow them time to absorb and cleanse, while you enjoy a relaxing neck massage.

Treat
Specialized spa treatments can help you soothe aches and pains. To start treating your sore spots, get a A Deep Tissue Massage from Creekside so you can get relief that reaches deep to the source. Or, try Spa Orange’s On-the-Spot Massage, personalized to fit your treatment needs.

Sinuses? Get relief from your allergies with an immune system-boosting Breathe Easy Wrap from Spa Orange, paired with a light facial to open up your nasal passages and targeted pressure point therapy for sinuses.

Heal after a surgery or another procedure with Lymphatic Drainage Therapy from Pipestem. This light, fully-clothed massage will help decrease the swelling and bruises, as well as drain excess fluids.

Beautify
Glow like you’re on the way to model for a photo shoot with beauty treatments. Get Manicures and pedicures, then a waxing and brow tinting from Spa Orange. Blast blemishes with their Acne Facial, or freshen up with the Rosacea Facial from Creekside.

Wraps can also help you rid your body of excess fluids, which can help you look slimmer. Try the Seaweed and Aloe Vera Body Wrap from Pipestem, which includes an aromatherapy neck, scalp and facial massage, and ends with a rejuvenating shower.

Invigorate
Scale back a few years and look younger than ever! The Stem Fell Facial from Spa Orange will smooth out your age lines and make your face look radiant and young. A pumpkin facial from Creekside will use pumpkin treatment, steam and toning moisturizer to give your face a youthful, healthy glow.

SHARING THE SPA

For the Men
Guys want pampering, too! Get a special men’s facial from any of the Southern WV Resorts, and pair it with a relaxing massage.

For the kids
The little ones don’t have to be left out! A mini-facial from Spa Orange caters to the kids’ needs. Treat your 6- to 12-year-olds to a cleansing facial to care for their young, smiling faces.

For the lover
Creekside, Pipestem and Spa Orange all offer romantic couples massages. And at Pipestem, you can top it off with a couples Foaming Bubble Milk Bath, big enough for two.

Each of these spa facilities offers the opportunity to make a spa day a spa getaway with lodging / spa package opportunities.

 

Southern WV Ghost Stories

Halloween is approaching, and it’s the time of year spirits are said to be stirring. Southern WV has several of its own ghost tales.

Here are a few of our favorite haunts, one from each Southern WV county:

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    Sweet Springs Resort turned Sanatorium – Now Abandoned – Monroe County

      Fayette County’s Haunted Tracks

Walking the tracks from Wierwood to Pax, you  might catch a glimmering glimpse of the Fayette  County ghost lights. But be careful: there’s more in  store if you do.

Late at night, travelers who trek the tracks spot the  ghostly lights ahead of them. If your curiosity is  piqued, you’ll just have to wait: you can walk as  quickly as you’d like, but the lights will linger the  same distance away from you. Until you reach the  bridge, that is.

At the bridge, the lights converge, forming the  stumbling figure of a headless man. As you watch  him, he will disappear. But not for long.

Look behind you. He has reappeared there, heading  straight toward you. Get out of his way. He’s about  to relive his death, tumbling over the cliffside.

Tales say that as he tried to avoid an oncoming train, he was beheaded, and his body was thrown into the water below.

He returns to find his missing head, but he might be searching for all eternity.

Raleigh County’s Theater of Spirits

The regalia was in place and people flocked in to celebrate and honor the veterans at the new Soldier’s Memorial Theater. The bleachers filled up as people were seated. Too many people. The seats collapsed.

No one was killed in the fall, but this is still the beginning of the story, the bad omen that hovered over the theater from its start.

Bob could tell you, if he were still alive. Maybe he still will. He hangs around the theater, and you can hear his footsteps at night.

Bob lived in the basement. He’s an older gentleman, still roaming his old home in his ’30′s style attire. He’s also been spotted on the balcony, the creepy locale that a female voice also haunts. She whippers through the halls, and sometimes she will simply say, “balcony.”

It’s not clear whether she’s warning or inviting the late night guests of the theater, but it seems there’s more to the story of the balcony that has yet to be uncovered.

And the disembodied whispers and footsteps aren’t the only ghostly sounds around the theater. Children can be heard laughing, and a saxophone plays, even when there isn’t one in the building.

Wyoming County’s Ghostly Troubadour

If you’re looking for a ghostly tune, you need only ask at Bud Mountain in Wyoming County. The spirit of Berg Hammond is said to still roam there, and Berg never turned down a request to play.

Berg was a traveling salesman, roaming the countryside, from farm to farm in his horse-drawn wagon, peddling wares and offering up the lively conversation of a seasoned traveler. He sold instruments alongside his other goods, and never missed an opportunity to put on a show, especially with his fiddle. People loved him, and often offered him a bed for the night.

But not every night. One stormy evening, Berg was crossing the mountain late in the evening, hoping to find a place to sleep on the other side.

The fog was heavy and the roads were narrow. Berg and the horses tumbled over the mountainside, crashing to their deaths at the bottom.

On stormy nights you can hear his fiddle echo across the mountain. And, true to his nature as a showman, if you ask him, “Berg Hammond, let me hear your pretty fiddle,” he will wake from his eternal sleep to comply.

McDowell County’s Paranormal Creature

Be careful wandering near Sandy Huff Hollow Road in McDowell County. Whatever is lurking there has supposedly made victims of several local pets.

The creature that hunters and ATV riders report seeing stalking the area is a large, 4-legged dog-like animal. But it’s not quite a dog, since it rears up and walks on hind legs, too.

It stalks after intruders, and one woman said when she noticed it from her window, it noticed back. It came up to the house, and it must have been more than curiosity, because she said it was scratching and banging the doors all night.

Greenbrier County’s Historical Haunt

The Greenbrier Ghost is no mere story. She has documented testimony in court for her own murder.

Zona Heaster fell ill, and was found dead in her home. It was declared heart failure. And yet, it was not as simple as it seemed.

After the funeral, Zona’s mother looked up from prayer to see her daughter standing in the corner. She rushed to her side, but as she did so, the apparition disappeared before her.
The next night, she returned. And she spoke.

Zona told her mother, in full detail, the truth of her final moments: she had been murdered. Strangled. So Mrs. Heaster went straight to the prosecuting attorney, who had a proper autopsy performed on the body.

You see, the first time around, the examination of the body had been rushed. Zona’s husband was clutching the woman’s head, grieving.

Why had he been so protective of her head? Insist she wear a scarf at the funeral? What of his two previous wives, one of whom also died mysteriously?

As the autopsy was underway, he said they wouldn’t be able to prove it was him. Curious, that he seemed to know what the autopsy would find: that Zona had been strangled to death.

Her husband was convicted of her murder, but insisted his innocence until he died in prison, as solidly as Mrs. Heaster insisted her daughter had returned to her to seek justice.

Summers County’s Tall Tale Haunt

A Summers County legend still lives on, though he is no longer alive. Big Bend Tunnel is the supposed site of the famous contest between steel driver John Henry and the machine.

As the tale goes, John was the quickest steel driver around. And when a salesman rode through with a mechanized version of his job, he feared even his skills couldn’t save him.

But he wagered a challenge anyway: Henry vs. the machine. If he won, the workers kept their jobs. If not, the machine replaced them.

He hammered away, and raced against the mechanized device, keeping up pound for pound with his hammer. The workers looked on, their jobs on the line. John Henry was a steel driving man, who in the end proved tougher than machine. But the strain was too much for him, and he died after his win.

Known by song as the “Steel Drivin’ Man,” his legend still lives, as a ghost still hammering away in the night. Passers-by hear the pounding as he continues his duties even after they put him in his grave.

Monroe County’s Sanatorium Spirits

Does one ever expect the tortured souls of a sanitarium to settle? The old Sweet Springs Sanatorium in Monroe County is no stranger to paranormal activity, despite being left abandoned for years.

The furniture sits scattered about. The rooms lie in disrepair. And many ghosts are said to wander the dark corners of the building.

Voices whisper through its halls. People have seen unexplainable things, like human-like figures drifting through the grounds.

Sometimes you don’t see them. You feel them. In addition to the eerie feeling of a presence, that you are not alone in Sweet Springs, you sometimes feel that presence reach out to you, literally. A light tap the the shoulder or a brush against the arm.

“Abandoned.” Indeed.

Nicholas County’s Lost Lovers

All odds against them, a couple in Summersville have kept their love burning even after death.

She was a prisoner, so he planned to help her escape— by hiding her in a coffin.

Romantic though it was, their plan didn’t succeed, and neither survived the escape attempt.

The bell tower on the courthouse mysteriously tolls a tune for the long-passed lovers.

Then again, maybe love does not conquer all. The courthouse has been the site of numerous other battles and slayings, so maybe the bell tolls for some other ghostly inhabitant, reminding the living of a long, dark history.

Mercer County’s Courthouse Ghosts

In fact, look into nearly any courthouse in the state, and you’re bound to find tales of ghostly presence. It seems the law does not sit well with the non-living.

Mercer County is certainly no exception. Workers have come to accept that they are not alone. They report seeing figures stalking the halls when no one is around, and the visitors promptly disappear when approached.

Most of the time.

One worker swept the courtroom after hearing voices only to find he seemed to be alone. At least, nothing living was there with him, he was certain. He turned to leave and banged his knee on the way out, and to his shock, a bodiless voice nearby commented on his clumsy move.

The stairs are a hub of activity for the ghouls. The stairwells lead all the way to the former jail cells.
Ghost hunters report powerful spiritual energy, and say they identify several distinct ghosts lingering in the courtrooms.

Mercer County is no stranger to haunts. We also wrote about another ghost hub, the Lake Shawnee Amusement Park, recently.

Whether they’re real or not, the stories of spiritual sightings around Southern WV never seem to cease.

Which Southern WV ghost story is your favorite?

Canopies for Kids! Skydivers jump with these bears making them the bravest bears in the world, then they are delivered to children's hospitals. #awesome #bridgeday #visitwv

Canopies for Kids! Skydivers jump with these bears making them the bravest bears in the world, then they are delivered to children's hospitals. #awesome #bridgeday #visitwv

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