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Trekking WV for oddities … ghost towns, abandoned park, roaring falls

By Staff | Jun 24, 2015

Summer instills thoughts of amusement parks, exotic swimming locales and adventurous journeys searching for unusual sights and individualistic thrills that are not found off an interstate exit.

Have you heard of Lake Shawnee Park? It’s in Princeton. Built on a site where Native Americans kidnapped and killed members of the Clay family, Lake Shawnee opened in 1926, catering mostly to coal workers and their families. Two children died on park grounds forcing its closure in 1966. Skeletal rusting ruins of a ferris wheel and other rides dot the overgrown wilderness.


When you think whitewater and falls, the New River and Blackwater spring to mind.

The creative team of Lauren Littlepage and Chris Hayes sought a location where Littlepage, a self-described “water baby,” could indulge in a photogenic endeavor. Well-known for a picturesque mill, Babcock State Park near Beckley and the New River has an abandoned coke oven, rail tracks, machinery and abandoned buildings of the once thriving town of Sewell.

Hunting through remote trails at Babcock, which themselves display impressive views of the gorge, Littlepage and Hayes found the pure, shooting waters displayed here.

“Waterfalls are one of my favorite shoot locations. I feel lucky to live in West Virginia because the state has some of the most impressive ones in the country,” Littlepage explained.


Sewell is one of many ghost towns – often former villages where coal miners and their families lived while working a mine – Thurmond (at the bottom of the New River gorge) has an intact town; Glenn Rogers in Wyoming County has no inhabitants either.

How does one find these and other mysterious locations? Google. WV State Parks and Abandoned WV work, as well as the WV Film Office location page.

Venturing outside WV? You will find an abandoned Cincinnati subway. a hurricane wrecked Six Flags in New Orleans, decaying plantations in Virginia, and Detroit is infamous for urban ruins, such as malls, hotels, factories, and theaters.