Random (but not really)

Monday, April 23, 2018

Permanence and Transience

Unlike a lot of other places in the US (or the world I suppose) there are many many areas of WV that have been abandoned.

Mines stopped producing and not only was the equipment left to rust in place, but the camps surrounding the mines slowly crumbled as well.

Mountains were clear-cut of all trees, and the logging towns that had sprung up around them were deserted.


Then after the people left, the forests came back, hiding all but the most massive of structures. But even those structures are slowly being taken back by nature.


Because we have hiked so much of WV, I’ve seen many of these places. You’ll be hiking along and unexpectedly come across a chimney, or a rusted barrel, or the foundation of building, or railroad ties, all but hidden by the soil and moss and trees.


Or a cemetery. There are hundreds (perhaps thousands) of small cemeteries scattered throughout the state, where homesteaders and pioneers buried their dead, sometimes with carved tombstones.


Sometimes just with stones.

Prickett Fort Cemetery

But the engravings eventually erode away, leaving just a rough stone, the names and dates and verses gone with the snow and the rain.


I try to stop at these hidden and nearly lost cemeteries when I come across them. I think about how it’s been generations since anyone remembered the sound of their voices.

Yet even as the structures crumble and names are washed away, every spring I stumble across the reminder of homes when all that is left is uneven ground.

What I find in the woods are patches of daffodils, thriving and spreading, marking out yards where someone once planted bulbs so they would have flowers at the end of winter. And so I find a tiny bit of beauty in the woods, appearing every spring and then disappearing, like the homes they decorated.

And I like that.

I like that even as buildings and names and dates disappear into time, these spots of yellow appear every spring.

I like the reminder that even if we are completely forgotten, something still remains. Beauty at the end of winter, coming back year after year.


20130406_Antietam _199

(Some of the pictures I’ve taken at the cemeteries I’ve come across and some of the pictures I’ve taken of decaying structures and items.)

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