|Harpers Ferry (Photo credit: cliff1066™)|
I won't say that I was lost. I didn't know exactly where I was, but I basically knew where I was going. I had taken a wrong turn and didn't particularly want to stop to consult the map. The road I was on would eventually come to a main road that I recognized. I was pretty sure of that. Most roads go somewhere and that somewhere will usually provide more options. You can never get really lost forever on highways. For a short while maybe, but not forever.
Winding through mountains in West Virginia, then Virginia, then back and forth again, I was enjoying the beauty of the place yet I was anxious to get back to the main highway. We had a ways to go and I wanted to get to our motel in Lexington, Virginia before it got dark.
As we came out of a particularly curvy mountainous area, we emerged into a small community. I wouldn't quite call it a town because I didn't see anything besides houses. There were quite a number of these houses. Houses that struck me as being somewhat large looking two story houses, similar in design and relatively old. Houses built before 1950--maybe even pre-war. The community looked neat, but poor. And odd.
The place was eerie odd like something seen in a dream. In retrospect I almost wished I had stopped, or at least paid more attention. At the time I was more concerned about finding a main highway and I did after passing the eerie odd community.
For the rest of the drive that day my mind kept going back to the place on the road that I had flown by. I felt haunted. That evening in the motel I looked on my computer to find out where it was that we had passed through. Nothing. I could not figure out what that place had been.
Several weeks later after more careful researching with the help of Google Maps and Google Search, I figured out what place we had flown by. Bishop, Virginia and Bishop, West Virginia was the town. A place divided due to having been built on the border of two states.
Bishop is an old coal mining town--something I had surmised as we drove past. I mentioned that to my wife and now it was confirmed for me. Now with mines closed, Bishop is just part of the Appalachian poverty region. What was a fly by town to me is a place where a goodly number of people live and struggle to get by.
Why write about Bishop today? Because today, January 4th, a Saturday, I hope to pass through there again if my schedule allows. If I do return, this time I will slow down a bit. Maybe take some pictures. Maybe just stop and look for a moment. The place still haunts me. If I make sure that it is real--real to me at least--then maybe its ghost will live in my memory a different way. Not a dream, but a real place.
Have you ever passed through a town that haunted you? What is the strangest place you've ever been to? Are you familiar with Bishop or the Appalachian region of West Virginia and Virginia?