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Old 10-27-2008, 05:01 PM   #1
DeBandi OP
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Thumb October Quest for the Original Cape Coalwood

I set out to find the original location where Homer Hickam, Jr. tested his rockets. I grew up in a small coal mining community in Kentucky. I left the community when I was 18 and now only return occasionally to visit family and friends. A few years ago I watched the movie October Sky Based on the novel Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam, Jr. and that story is the subject of the this ride report.





This would be a long four days of riding so serious time was given for planning routes and researching some background information.




Of course we had to do this in October. After all, it was the launch of Sputnik in October of 1957 that created the “space race” and inspired Homer to want to become an aerospace engineer.



Mo Boot was kind enough to join me on this adventure.


We stopped in Petros, TN, to see what remained of one of the filming locations of the movie.



(Image from the web)

The temporary set of the Olga temple was removed after the filming. It was located on this corner in Petros. Several other locations remain in Petros that were featured in the movie.







Next, in Oliver Springs, TN, we saw Olga Coal Company still visible on several of the buildings in this small Tennessee town.












We wanted to get to Erwin, TN, for the evening, so we had to take off after a bite of lunch.






On day two the goal was to make it to Elk Park, NC, to meet up with Dlrides.


Mo Boot had some battery trouble, and the weather was blowing trees at us at 4,900 ft up on Beauty Spot Gap road. I have never seen weather this bad while riding.


Dlrides is a history buff and wanted to do the Coalwood ride with us on Saturday. He was gracious enough to show us some incredible historic items in & around Cranberry, NC. Friday was spent in that area exploring with Dlrides did a separate ride report for this day’s adventure http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=401209.





Mo boot at a very long cable suspension bridge.


My fuel pump began to spit and sputter on the 950 about an hour after this creek crossing.

(photo courtesy of dlrides)

The bike completely stopped running just as we pulled up next to a car wash. I had total fuel pump failure.




After several attempts to solve the problem, it looks like this ride has come to a premature ending.

















Let me look around & see what I have.

Well, I will be dog, I just happen to have an extra fuel pump with me.


Dlrides was kind enough to install the fuel pump, and we headed to find shelter and a warm, dry bed for the evening.


Tomorrow - the destination is the Original Cape Coalwood and some historical information on the interesting coal village.
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DeBandi screwed with this post 12-17-2008 at 12:02 PM
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Old 10-27-2008, 05:09 PM   #2
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Lookin' good

You carry a spare fuel pump with you?


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Old 10-27-2008, 05:22 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gadget Boy
You carry a spare fuel pump with you?


Yeah, he rides a 950!!! David, I gotta tell you, I made fun of you for carrying that thing around but it looks like it paid off. Good work mang.
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Old 10-28-2008, 06:39 AM   #4
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DeBandi,

Epic ride as usual !

Before the report progresses, I would like to mention the roads taken to WV. We mostly picked our way on gravel and twisty backroads. along the way we found an abandoned road in western VA that was unbelieveable ! It ran through cattle farm country near Mendota VA, with parts that was extremely rocky grades. No pics of the rough parts, we were too busy getting the bikes through ! Some of the gravel roads in this part of VA run through huge cattle farms that are "open range" roads, meaning they have no fences and the cattle roam, simular to western states.



















Carry on !
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Old 10-28-2008, 09:29 AM   #5
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The Road To Coalwood

Coalwood, WV, was considered a model mining community in the 1930s.



This image is from the web




I wanted to see this historical coal village before it vanishes forever.






The road to Coalwood takes us through downtown War.



War is home to Big Creek High School.



This is where Homer went to school and was inspired by his teacher to pursue his dreams. He did just that. And Homer won the National Science Fair in 1960 putting Big Creek High School and Coalwood on the map.

Keep in mind that he first saw Sputnik in the night sky in October of 1957
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Old 10-28-2008, 11:37 AM   #6
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Cool Report!

I really liked that book (movies are never as good).... I never thought of taking a ride like this!

Thanks for sharing!
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Old 10-28-2008, 09:45 AM   #7
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sweet ride idea!
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Old 10-28-2008, 10:49 AM   #8
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Caretta

Just down the road from War is the Olga Tipple at Caretta.




I am surprised that it has not been removed due to liability issues.





The large metal screen on the left extends over the road. This was for a big cable bucket system that went up the mountain to a slate dump. The screen protected passing cars from possible falling debris from the buckets on the aerial tramway.


The conveyor belt system to the right crosses above Highway 16 and was used for the coal and slate coming in by truck.





This tipple was constructed around 1924.
It is identical to the tipple that was at Coalwood.

Coalwood is just down the road.
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Old 10-28-2008, 11:12 AM   #9
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I always enjoy your reports.
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Old 10-28-2008, 11:17 AM   #10
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Great report! Keep it coming.

Dave, or Don... Didn't we ride through War on the epic Memorial Weekend ride in 2007? There are some fantastic places tucked away in that part of the country.

When are you guys going to team up and publish a book or two on these vanishing bits of history that you dig up?
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Old 10-29-2008, 06:56 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mark1305
Great report! Keep it coming.

Dave, or Don... Didn't we ride through War on the epic Memorial Weekend ride in 2007? There are some fantastic places tucked away in that part of the country.

When are you guys going to team up and publish a book or two on these vanishing bits of history that you dig up?

Correct, we did pass through War.

Remember this ?


I have often thought about a motorcycle ride themed book, but considering the number of books about international motorcycle riding, sales probably would not justify publication costs. It seems that most riders don't have an interest in regional sights and history, and would rather read about exotic travels instead of create their own rides.
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Old 10-29-2008, 07:49 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dlrides
...snip... I have often thought about a motorcycle ride themed book, but considering the number of books about international motorcycle riding, sales probably would not justify publication costs. It seems that most riders don't have an interest in regional sights and history, and would rather read about exotic travels instead of create their own rides.
Maybe, maybe not. There are a lot of armchair tourists/riders that may just be a waiting audience. Exotic travels? Lots of folks are clueless about how much exotica is buried in this regions history. Hell, I live on the Space Coast and remember watching Sputnik go over the GA skies when it was still the only satellite up there - and I had no idea of Hickam's background or Coalwood's history.

You never know what will be a hit.

Not the same subject matter, but my cousin that hails from Highlands, NC and still splits her time between there most summers and NJ in the winters has been quite a successful author of childrens books for decades. Most have a message written into them about how to live life. And you'd think that wouldn't sell in kids books.

So you guys hang on to that material as you compile it. When the pile reaches critical mass, you'll know it and start to figure what to do with it.

Back to the show....
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Old 11-22-2008, 01:21 AM   #13
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A cold and windy day today, so I plopped down and read Rocket Boys cover to cover.

I enjoyed it, thanks for the tip.
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Old 11-26-2008, 06:56 AM   #14
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My daughter just asked me this morning if I'd ever seen October Sky. Turns out they are watching it in one of her school classes.

She has been pointed in the direction of this thread to get more of the history of the story.
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Old 11-27-2008, 03:52 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mark1305
My daughter just asked me this morning if I'd ever seen October Sky. Turns out they are watching it in one of her school classes.

She has been pointed in the direction of this thread to get more of the history of the story.
That is awesome!

Thank you Mark....
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