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    by Published on 08-01-2010 12:06 PM  Number of Views: 4672 
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    Three-Year-Old Jefferson County Girl Is Found Safe After Being Lost For 50 Hours in Rugged Blue Ridge Mountains

    Published January 2nd 1958 in the Spirit Old Jefferson Farmers' Advocate
    By Don Rentch

    On the west side of Mission Rd.
    Shown above is the log cabin home of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Ramsburg, and their two children and one of the two high ranges of the rugged Blue Ridge Mountains, Southeast of Charles Town where tragedy nearly struck last weekend. In the picture Mr. Ramsburg is shown standing near his two-room home and pointing to the high mountain
    by Published on 12-02-2014 12:00 PM  Number of Views: 1751 
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    Our Once Famous Scenic Overlook-Past & Present

    This view is on a post card printed by the Boston firm Tichnor Brothers Inc. They made color postcards with a linen texture dated ca. 1930-1945 concentrating on American vacation places. Their West Virginia collection linked HERE has some good views of Jefferson County. This view, familiar to many of us older folks, shows Snyder's or Power House Hill on the right and Little's Falls on the left. The Shenandoah River is flowing north, left to right. Pop
    by Published on 07-31-2014 08:00 PM     Number of Views: 2063 
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    Meteorological Magic
    Thanks to an anonymous donor, YOUR Mountain Community Center now is host to a nifty weather station.
    The data from the station will complement the other two stations presently in service on our mountain. It should be a valuable addition since it will provide real-time weather conditions at the intersection of County Rt 115, The Old Charles Town Road and County Rt 9/5, Mission Road, West Virginia's ...
    by Published on 02-16-2013 12:40 AM  Number of Views: 9549 
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    Mount Weather - Our Neighbor to the South

    An Expose into this Secret facility
    by Published on 05-28-2010 08:41 PM  Number of Views: 25525 
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    Before there was a much development on our Mountain, tragedy struck atop the Blue Ridge.

    On Friday, June 13, 1947 the second worst commercial airline crash (at that time) occurred just below the crest of the mountain on its western slope. Bad weather contributed to the tragedy as the plane pancaked into cliffs at full throttle.

    This WAS big news. The account made the front page of The New York Times. The Forty-seven passengers and 3 crew members all died instantly. The plane’s impact showed no signs of any evasive measures being taken, a faulty altimeter being the suspected cause. The crash was so intense that six bodies could not be identified and two were never recovered.

    We’ve published this account in an effort to honor the memories of the dead and give as best a description of the events as the news articles of the time allow. If anyone who knows more about the tragedy would like to add to this story, please contact us.

    The tale is told in two parts, the first by newspaper accounts and the second by the employees of the airline company who sought out the site of the wreckage nearly 60 years later. As a youngster, I recall visiting the site of the crash about 12 years after the fact. It’s been a privilege to find out some of the details, albeit so much later.

    The Tragedy

    On Friday, the 13th, in June of 1947, an airliner crash

    involving the second largest loss of life at that time

    occurred atop the Blue Ridge Mountain directly above

    what would in 10 years, become the Shannondale

    Subdivision. 50 passengers and crew members

    pancaked into a cliff face just a few hundred feet from

    the summit. The story by way of newspaper accounts

    and stories of former members of the airliner company

    is recounted below...

    Note: Some thumbnail photos in the article can be enlarged by clicking

    On the evening of Friday the 13th of June, 1947, there was an Airliner crash of epic proportions. At the time it was the second largest loss of life in a commercial passenger flight in the United States. We have accounts from two newspapers which reported the event, a local publication and the New York Times. They seem to have covered most of the story from a news perspective.

    We are also fortunate to have an account of a trek by formers members of the airline company, Capital, over 50 years after the incident. That story adds a lot more from a personal viewpoint. What we are missing are the stories about the crew and passengers, their families and the searchers who dealt with the tragedy in those days following impact. We respectfully ask that if you are privy such information, that you share by contacting our website.

    From the perspective of today, it's difficult to imagine a DC-4 Stratoliner like This One

    crashing anywhere near the Washington area and remaining hidden for nearly a full day. In 1947 the countryside was as the papers report, rugged and in some cases nearly inaccessible. And the technology that tracks aircraft
    by Published on 03-03-2014 09:00 PM  Number of Views: 3117 
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    The Shannondale & Beyond Story

    We thought that as our 10 year anniversary approaches we'd try recount how Shannondale and Beyond (S&B) came to be nearing a decade of serving as a voice of the Blue Ridge Mountain. We've mentioned some of the circumstances related to how we came into being, but have never pulled it all together and plopped it down in one place. This isn't intended to be a complete and exhaustive history. We'd welcome being advised if we've left anything out of the story. We'd also be tickled to publish additional information our viewers may have to share.

    "In the beginning" there was no S&B. Yep, we weren't the first to offer a discussion forum and website to our Mountain's residents. That title, as best we can determine, goes to Joyce Fisher's "Shannondale Community Bulletin Board" which was established in January of 1999. We say "as best as we can determine" because no one was thinking of keeping ...
    by Published on 08-14-2012 09:29 PM  Number of Views: 4826 
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    Many of us cross it twice a day going to and from work. It's our Nation's longest National Park. It affords some of the best views for miles around. It's a National treasure.

    Nat'l Headquarters ATC
    Welcome to our presentation of Jefferson County's portion
    by Published on 06-08-2011 01:11 PM  Number of Views: 6645 
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    I finally was able to coordinate with my friend and arrange a visit to the summit of Lover's Leap. The view was simply breathtaking. The first two images show the panorama of
    by Published on 08-31-2010 12:05 PM
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    Back Story:

    Jefferson County's newspaper, "The Sprit of Jefferson's Farmers' Advocate" was put in an unique situation as a weekly publication to chronicle this sad a disturbing story in a serial fashion. From reading the account you can visualize how this story unfolded. And you can give thanks to the Jefferson County Health Department, not mentioned in the news accounts, for demanding the testing of the source of "the mysterious" illness. I know this, as I worked with the Sanitarian who helped investigate the case. He taught me to look at all possibilites even though, from the conditions, poor sanitation was the most obvious choice for a culprit.

    Untitled document
    Week One: November 22, 1956
    Three County Children Dead, Father, Seven Other Children Stricken By Mysterious Illness

    by Published on 09-19-2010 05:30 PM
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    The editors are trying to piece together a history of the schools of the Blue Ridge. We've been able to collect a few items and would like to enlist the help of all our readers in this effort. The old schools are gone. There may be some few structures left that once served as "seats of learning", but by and large they've disappeared. Several are mentioned, The school in Silver Grove's School, Manning's School, The School at St Andrew's Community Center, Fairmount School and a school near Pine Grove in Va.

    The authors of the newsletter mentioned below obviously had information AND photos of some schools and pupils of yesteryear. Hopefully we or some of our readers can persuade sharing of information. The images included are scans of photocopies and leave much to be desired. But we do KNOW that photos existed at one time.

    We've included what little info we've had time to gather (to be honest the
    by Published on 05-17-2013 05:30 PM  Number of Views: 3208 
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    The U.S. Geological Survey and Its W. V. Shenandoah River Sampling Program
    What are those guys doing on the Shenandoah River Bridge?

    What started out as curiosity has become a pretty neat account of the goings-on we see occasionally on the Old Rt 9 (now Rt 115) Shenandoah River bridge. We had stopped by a few weeks ago in the midst of a Spring shower to ask about the activities that seemed to be about measurements of our river. We posted a short blurb on the forum
    that provided a brief explanation.
    by Published on 05-13-2013 10:30 PM  Number of Views: 3778 
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    Those Markers We See So Often

    They Sometimes Blend Into The Background

    What are they all about, where are they located throughout our County, and what the heck do they say?
    Shucks, you never have time to read them when you're driving by.

    We reckon the best way to describe the the markers would be to borrow the wording from the
    West Virginia Division of Culture and History's website:

    The West Virginia Highway Historical Marker Program was initiated in 1937 as part of the New Deal as a way to encourage tourism during the Great Depression. The West Virginia Commission on Historic and Scenic Markers worked with the State Road Commission, Works Progress Administration, and Federal Emergency Relief Administration to place 440 markers during the first year alone. After World War II, markers were placed at the sites of most state-run facilities and schools. The West Virginia Historic Commission took over the program in 1963. Since the late 1960s, the program has been managed by West Virginia Archives and History, which is today part of the West Virginia Division of Culture & History.
    We've noticed the markers as we're sure you have. Some are in good condition, some are nearly illegible, and some are MIA. Many are in places some distance from the historical sites they describe. ...
    by Published on 04-21-2013 12:30 PM  Number of Views: 3278 
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    A Safe Harbor for Natural Beauty:

    A visit in April of 2013 revealed a splendid destination for communing with nature, dabbing in the arts and learning about sustainability amidst our fast growing Baltimore/Washington Metro Area suburb.Craftworks is a multifaceted endeavor founded on a deep love of nature and the environment. Its WEBSITE relates the organization's mission eloquently:

    CraftWorks is a community supported non-profit that provides exciting learning experiences in art,
    by Published on 04-16-2013 06:16 PM  Number of Views: 2986 
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    Blue Ridge Primary School Partners
    w/ Communitree April 2013

    with a little help from your Blue Ridge Watershed Coalition

    On April 15th trees were planted at the new primary school that was constructed last year. The project was part of the
    West Virginia Project Communitree
    whose mission is:
    to promote urban tree planting and environmental education through volunteerism on a regional scale
    by Published on 08-31-2010 12:02 PM
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    The Once World Renown Shannondale Springs
    A Virtual Tour

    Howe's 1845 Lithograph of the Springs

    Follow the link below to a virtual tour of Shannondale Springs. The Jefferson County Museum,
    by Published on 11-07-2012 03:00 PM
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    Mountain Community Center's Rain Garden 2012
    A project by the
    Blue Ridge Watershed Coalition(BRWC)

    This project was made possible with a grant from the
    West Virginia Stream Partners Program

    The demonstration project was part of a larger effort designed to capture the first inch of rainfall and slow and filter as much of the water as possible from the land around the Mountain Community Center (MCC) by:

    • Capturing rain from the rear roof and storing it in a cistern for irrigation and as an additional source of water for fire suppression
    • Capturing water from the front roof in a series of rain barrels for irrigation of a garden and,
    • Designing and constructing a drainage system to divert water from the driveway area and the hillside area into a rain garden. Water will also be "feathered" to spread it out and into an existing forested area.
    by Published on 06-07-2010 07:53 PM  Number of Views: 8719 
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    Welcome to one of the most extensive history presentations ever assembled for our county of Jefferson, West Virginia. The presentation, which presently consists of 190 YouTube film shorts and links to 2 websites, is a labor of love by Jim Surkamp. To describe Jim as an ardent lover of history would be an understatement of the greatest magnitude.

    In Jim Surkamp's own words:

    Our County's Stories in 1000 minutes via YouTube

    Fellow Jefferson Countians and others - I would like to make available to you these 192 stories of Jefferson County totaling 1000 minutes

    The stories, ranging from a quarter of a billion years ago, when the world was exploding and boiling, to when Patsy Cline had her first big recording date in Nashville in the late 1950's, were all stories I researched, wrote and produced either on my own, in conjunction with the Jefferson County Oral and Visual Historical Association and Bill Theriault or the now defunct cable company, Adelphia ( I have received permission from Comcast, who bought Adelphia, to share these videos).

    Helping were the extraordinary local actors Bill Caldwell, Ardyth Gilbertson, Hubert Rolling, Margie Didden, among others; and exceptional, generally local, musicians Seth Austen(frame drum, guitars, banjo, mandolin, synthesizer), Nick Blanton(hammered dulcimer), Ralph Gordon(bass), Dave Hellye(harmonica), Kevin Williams(synthesizer) and the late Freyda Epstein(violin).

    A thanks to the great musical group called Nightengale.

    A huge thanks to Shepherd University's library and staff that has such excellent, endlessly used resources.

    We have a dazzling county with a history that makes it arguably the most historical county in America, the county that inspired that l'l ol' song, Country Roads(Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah river) the only county in West Virginia with those features is our County).

    I'm very glad to share them. When I drive down any County Country road I see these events in my imagination.


    Jim Surkamp

    Our Story

    1) Pre-History ...
    by Published on 12-20-2011 08:23 PM
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    New Rt 9 @ Keyes Gap + Construction Photos

    Click on the image above to see a larger version

    Courtesy of Commissioner Lyn Widmyer
    While ...
    by Published on 09-14-2010 12:10 AM
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    The Shannondale Iron Furnace
    Near the Horseshoe Bend of the Shenandoah River

    A Very Brief History

    In the early 1700's, William Fairfax became the owner of 29,000 acres of the Virginia Colony. The land was referred to as Shannondale. Early in the area's history it became known that copious deposits of a superior grade of iron ore were present and readily available. That fact, in conjunction with the presence of the area's convenient proximity to two rivers made the area highly desirable for iron
    by Published on 08-16-2010 04:51 PM  Number of Views: 8907 
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    The Jefferson County Health Department's Dif-Sip Program

    The Jefferson County Health Department with input from the Water advisory committee has adopted a program, set to go into effect
    by Published on 06-17-2012 10:48 PM
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    Lake Shannondale's Construction 1964-1966
    The photos below are part of a book dedicated to Charles M. Johnson, Shannondale's developer, by Granville (Pete) Cave. Pete devoted an extraordinary amount of time and energy to make a record that is both fascinating and historical. And he did it with a Kodak Instamatic camera and a pair of scissors. In this day of digital pix and photo shop his job would have been SO much easier.

    When finished in 1966, it was the largest, privately owned lake in West Virginia. It was financed by Shannondale Inc., the developer of Shannondale, with proceeds earned from land sales. Enjoy the show.
    (Note that much larger versions of the images can be seen by clicking on the pictures below-we don't want you all to strain your eyes)