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Old 10-28-2008, 07:41 PM   #16
dirty-diesel
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Awsome report! Wow that old high school looks like something out of a horror movie now. What a shame to see all this wonderous history fading away. Thanks for keeping it alive.
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Old 10-28-2008, 07:48 PM   #17
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Coalwood - The model town

As we approached the center of the coal community, a few things stood out.


Coalwood is vanishing -- one building at a time.



This was the original clubhouse & doctors office.
image from the web




This was the original school. Later it became the community center. Only a swimming pool exists at the location today.
image from the web



So sad. Coalwood is one of the longest surviving coal company towns in America. Or, at least what is left of it.

I'm attracted to Coalwood for several reasons.




This hidden little coal company town does not resemble any other coal town I have ever seen.



It was a model town back in the 1930s because of its pride of community and pride of ownership. Olga Coal made this little coal town a great place to be. Most company towns were nothing but company owned housing and a company store holding the employees hostage by paying them in company scrip instead of actual American currency. They could not leave because the company scrip was worthless, except at the company store. This usually provided for an atmosphere of nothing but squalor, poverty, crime and very little sense of pride.

Not so for Coalwood. It makes me think of an Alpine Village in the Swiss Alps.



The company apartments were once very impressive.


image from the web

They have seen better days and I expect they will disappear in the next few years.








The clubhouse is no different.

Homer used to go to the roof and watch for Sputnik to fly over.





That's the superintendent's house up on the hill.


The Olga Coal Company office still stands today.




The machine shops still stand.



This is where Olga mine employees helped Homer with his rocket nozzles.



Hard to imagine that a large part of the American race for space actually happened in these very buildings.




They, too, are in terrible disarray, and I expect they will not last much longer.




The company store was demolished just a few months ago.


image from the web





image from the web




This is what sparked my desire to see Coalwood before it is gone forever.






image from the web




This is Homer at his rocket test site: Cape Coalwood.







This is Cape Coalwood today.








All of this does relate to Exploring Alabama.



Homer Hickam, Jr. became a NASA aerospace engineer and retired from Marshall Space Center in Hunstville, Alabama.



More on this later.
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Old 10-28-2008, 09:06 PM   #18
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Wow, Well Done!

I rolled through Coalwood and War a few years ago on my way to the Smokies and never gave it any thought other than "another WV mining town in final decline. What a neat history lesson. Bravo! I've also go to find that road in Virginia, I love toolin' around in that part of the woods.
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Old 10-29-2008, 06:56 AM   #19
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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   #20
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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 10-29-2008, 09:30 AM   #21
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I've often thought about a book but have no idea how to go about it. Dave and Don, you guys seem to have alot more resources than me which can go a long way towards a project like that. Y'alls pictures are great, and the research done is fantastic. I just bought a book a few weeks ago called Motorcycling the Southeast and it is nicely done, although there is nothing for us 'offroady' types. A regional 'adventure' type book... there is nothing else like that on the market (that I have found). The clue is that most of these books dumb down riding so much that it's aggravating to people that have somewhat of a clue... alot of them use filler material like 'what to bring' and 'how to fix a flat'... if I needed to know that info I would buy a bike on it.
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Old 10-29-2008, 10:21 AM   #22
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Great report!

Thank you.
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Old 10-29-2008, 10:57 AM   #23
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Awesome bit of history David & Don. I'm a history buff too, just in too much of a hurry to stop and smell the roses like you guys do, so thanks for sharing. I used to go to the Mendota fire tower in college and eat shrooms or smoke a spliff. What a great place to trip, with the clouds rolling through the non-existent windows at night.
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Old 10-29-2008, 11:09 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fullmonte
Awesome bit of history David & Don. I'm a history buff too, just in too much of a hurry to stop and smell the roses like you guys do, so thanks for sharing. I used to go to the Mendota fire tower in college and eat shrooms or smoke a spliff. What a great place to trip, with the clouds rolling through the non-existent windows at night.

Hey Monte

Juat a bit N of Mendota, is a great abandoned county road with the river crossing David showed. The "open range" roads through the cattle farms run NE from there ! The road accross Pinnacle Mtn. is still open, but the road to the fire tower has deteriorated severely. We probably would have attempted in the dry, but it was raining.

BTW - Great sig line !
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Old 10-29-2008, 11:32 AM   #25
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Where's a good place to stay?

Hi-

Thanks for the photos! Weird how it makes me 'sad' to see those place go, but then when I think about it, I don't understand why it makes me feel like that. I have no connection to them, other than reading the book. And I'm sure that rockets and our space program would most likely be the same today even if Homer wasn't involved, yet somehow I still feel a sadness every time I see an old building going away, especially houses.

I always think when passing by old houses that have totally fallen apart, that at one point in time, people were out there building this brand new, and the excitement of the family about to move into them must have been great. Just weird to think about....

Anyway, where's a good place to stay in the area if you wanted to explore?

Did you guys just pass through and not stay a day?
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Old 10-29-2008, 12:03 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fullmonte
Awesome bit of history David & Don. I'm a history buff too, just in too much of a hurry to stop and smell the roses like you guys do, so thanks for sharing. I used to go to the Mendota fire tower in college and eat shrooms or smoke a spliff. What a great place to trip, with the clouds rolling through the non-existent windows at night.

You crack me up dude.
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Old 10-29-2008, 12:42 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clarkebd
Hi-

Thanks for the photos! Weird how it makes me 'sad' to see those place go, but then when I think about it, I don't understand why it makes me feel like that. I have no connection to them, other than reading the book. And I'm sure that rockets and our space program would most likely be the same today even if Homer wasn't involved, yet somehow I still feel a sadness every time I see an old building going away, especially houses.

I always think when passing by old houses that have totally fallen apart, that at one point in time, people were out there building this brand new, and the excitement of the family about to move into them must have been great. Just weird to think about....

Anyway, where's a good place to stay in the area if you wanted to explore?

Did you guys just pass through and not stay a day?
Having roots in the surrounding area, I too find myself saddened by the economic state of these coal towns. These are tough individuals living in hard times, yet friendly and proud. On every trip through coal country, people offer up hospitality through information, interest in the trip, and kids' eyes light up when parked on the street.

A place to stay is usually no more than 40 miles away. Camping is very scarce except in summer months.
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Old 10-29-2008, 01:32 PM   #28
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place to stay

Quote:
Originally Posted by clarkebd
Hi-

Thanks for the photos! Weird how it makes me 'sad' to see those place go, but then when I think about it, I don't understand why it makes me feel like that. I have no connection to them, other than reading the book. And I'm sure that rockets and our space program would most likely be the same today even if Homer wasn't involved, yet somehow I still feel a sadness every time I see an old building going away, especially houses.

I always think when passing by old houses that have totally fallen apart, that at one point in time, people were out there building this brand new, and the excitement of the family about to move into them must have been great. Just weird to think about....

Anyway, where's a good place to stay in the area if you wanted to explore?

Did you guys just pass through and not stay a day?
clarkebd

Funny how we think alike. Dlrides & I were talking about the very same thing on Saturday sitting in War.

We stayed in Tazwell, VA & Lebanon, VA and this day had been planned out for quite sometime.



Thanks for all the kind comments guys.






More to come as it relates to Marshall Space Flight Center and Homer's hero





Wernher von Braun




Thanks again guys!!!
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Old 10-29-2008, 04:10 PM   #29
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tazwell va and that whole area is awesome!!!
great report!! dave and don!!!
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Old 10-29-2008, 05:31 PM   #30
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Good job guys.

Awesome report! Thank you!
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