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Field Trip to Babcock State Park, WV

Oct 11, 2012   //   by Kris B   //   Photography Trips  //  No Comments

f22, 55mm, 0.3 sec, ISO 200

e were able to take a day trip to Babcock State Park in the heart of the West Virginia mountains this week. The Grist Mill at Babcock State Park is the most photographed mill in the country, and many photographers have a trip there on their “bucket list.”  I am thankful that we live close enough to make it an easy trip, and it was well worth our time to get there! I had hoped that the leaves would be in full color, and we did have some good pockets of color, but there was also a lot of green. Another week and the area should be at peak color.

The picture to the left was one that I was determined to capture before we left. We were set up, and waiting for the scene to clear out so that there would be no people in the shot. This is a very busy time for photographers and tourists to visit the Mountain State, so we had to wait for about 30 minutes for a small window of opportunity (less than a minute) to snap the picture. The large boulder to the left side of the picture, on the water’s edge, is another popular spot from which to set up and shoot the scene. So, there was a steady stream of photographers lining up there to get their shots. The picture below is a shot I got from near that location. While it is a good shot opportunity as well, by going across the river, and down the road, I was able to capture the mill, the waterfalls, and the reflection of the mill in the first photo. I believe that many of the photographers who visit this location gravitate to the landing below the visitor’s center, and never realize that the better location is further down stream!

f13, 39mm, 1/6 sec, ISO 200

After leaving Babcock, we visited a small, deserted coal mining operation in what used to be the town of Nuttallburg.  This was an interesting experience for all of us. The town, which is is mostly destroyed, consists of an old mine, including the still standing conveyor, along with a tipple, as well as pillars of houses that are long gone, the remnants of the coal company’s store, and 80 coke furnaces. The mine started operations in about 1920, and had much of its technology designed and installed by Henry Ford. He was determined to control all operations in the building of a cars, which meant that he would need coal for making steel. He was, however, unable to gain control of the railroads, and so his plan fell through and he ended up selling the mine.

The park service asks that you not take any artifacts that you might find out of the area. As a result, there are many artifacts piled on top of the pillars that were once the foundations of homes and other structures in the area. My kids were able to find a marble, and a few pieces of broken dishes, which they happily added to the piles of broken glass and pottery that were scattered around. They found it very interesting to look at the different things that had been unearthed, and left behind. Here is a couple of pictures from the area. The first is a pillar, with some of the collected artifacts that had been piled on it. The second is the conveyor chute that carried coal down the mountain from the mine to the waiting coal railway cars.

f9, 55mm, 1/40, ISO 800

f 5.6, 32mm, 1/160, ISO 40















Visiting Nuttalburg is a worthwhile trip, even though it is a bit difficult to find. You will think you are getting lost as you drive into the hollow, along the New River, that holds the remnants of this once thriving coal town. There are many informational signs posted in the area that give a lot of the history of the mining operation, as well as information about the what life was like in a coal town during that period of history. It is a great educational trip for the kids, and parents will certainly learn a thing or two as well. Throw in the beauty of the area, and it is a great day for everyone!

f18, 29mm, ISO 100, multiple shutter

Our final stop of the day was to visit the world famous New River Gorge Bridge, near Fayetteville, WV. This was once the longest single arch bridge in the world, thought that distinction has since been surpassed. It was an engineering feat when completed! The beautiful setting of this bridge adds to its mystique and grandeur. We stopped in at the visitors center on the rim of the canyon, and walked down the boardwalk (which consists of a lot of steps–down is easy, coming back up is the hard part!) to the overlook area.

After leaving the visitor’s center, we took a single lane road down into the gorge, to the old bridge (which is visible from the overlook area) and walked out over the river to get a better look from below the bridge. It is quite impressive to see just how high the bridge is.  It is the second highest bridge in the country, with only a bridge over the Arkansas river in Colorado being higher. One Saturday per year (this year it will be October 20th) the bridge is closed for “Bridge Day” and people are permitted to walk out onto it. There are many festivities during this time, and it is the only day that bungee jumping and base jumping are lawfully permitted from the bridge. Be forewarned, however, that this is a major tourist event and it will be extremely crowded. If you are traveling through the area, you will need to find an alternate route!

Over all, we had a wonderful day. We had hoped for clearer skies, but it remained cloudy for the whole day. It did not, however, rain at all. While it was a bit chilly, it was not unbearably cold, and so all of the kids were fine. They had a wonderful time, and all quickly fell asleep following supper on our way home. It was a truly wonderful day!

If you’d like to see a few more pictures from our trip, be sure to check out this album on our Facebook page. Be sure to “like” our page while you are there!

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