A Scenic Wonderland, for now..
My route home to Logan, West Virginia yesterday took me on one of the wildest roads I’ve known. From Beckley I took route 3 to Glen Daniel and continued on 99 through Bolt until it intersected with 85. Starting at the beautiful community of Bolt (home of Little Jimmy Dickens–according to its sign), route 99 begins a steep climb until it ascends the top of a 3500 foot mountain.
According to my Honda Civic, the exterior temperature dropped from 45 in Bolt to 36 on top of the mountain. Once on top, the road snakes across the ridgeline for about 8 miles. Unfortunately, the road was created by blasting tunnel like cuts around the ridge, but if this was the only habitat degradation in the area this would be okay.
There are several long stretches on the skyline drive where panoramic vistas greet a look out the window. In fact, one such view stopped me in my car tracks. Even though I was running late, I was tempted to find a place to pull over and dig my camera from my luggage. But why bother if I was in a hurry? It isn’t like the view will change: the mountains will be there next time I come through…
In most places this logic is solid, but not in southern West Virginia. Mountain top removal mining has marred hundreds of similar landscapes across the region. As I continued my drive my fears were confirmed. The opposite ridgeline had already been destroyed: rugged peaks now a plateau of rubble… Even as an “outsider” I lamented the fact that views like this have been destroyed, but the sadness is tenfold for people who have personal and cultural attachments to the land.
To see what I mean, go to http://www.ilovemountains.org