December 30, 2006
We spent Christmas Eve exploring Boggs Run Rd., in Benwood, WV. Tucked between sharply climbing mountain ridges near Wheeling, West Virginia, it’s an old blue-collar neighborhood, where steelworkers employed by Wheeling’s steel mills once lived.
The old general store has been converted into a home. The Benwood Volunteer Fire Department and a church or two are among only a few non-residential structures. Unemployment hovers around 20 percent. Water run-off from the hills occasionally floods and washes away the road. Yet still, there’s an understated beauty to the place. We thought we’d bring you a glimpse of this less-traveled road.
This is one of the more striking homes along Boggs Run. There’s quite a contrast between the homes and what’s up the road, about a mile east and on the same side of the street as these homes are on. King Coal is returning in the form of the Shoemaker Mine, courtesy of the Consolidated Coal Co.
What a difference a mile makes!
A backyard mimosa tree (above center), ripe with seeds for the spring, is contrasted with the desolate Shoemaker Mine landscape a mile up the road.
As night fell, we headed uptown to Wheeling’s Festival of Lights in Oglebay Park, to see their highly acclaimed light show. Begun in 1985, it now covers over 300 acres and is a six-mile drive. This grand Ohio River steamboat was part of a montage including the swans seen below and a fisherman trying his luck in a lake.
We’re not really sure what the American flag, the Statue of Liberty and the Liberty Bell have to do with Christmas, but it’s an interesting example of the ways in which the line separating church and state gets blurred sometimes. America, the land of opportunity. What you make of it depends on what’s in your heart.
Read another Christmas story.
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