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A Tank of Gas and $20
Stretching Your Vacation Dollars
by Maricia Mlynek


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Good Fishing and Placid Waters

The county of Clay was formed in 1858 from parts of Braxton, Kanawha and Nicholas counties and was named in honor of Henry Clay. Both county and county seat are named for the popular Kentucky statesman. His part in bringing the National Road to Wheeling earned him a monument in western Virginia in 1820 before West Virginia declared its statehood in 1863. Clay County has an area of 346 square miles. It is the home of the Golden Delicious apple.

Our next stop in Clay County was Lake Sampson, a 15-acre impoundment opened in May 2005, only minutes from the Wallback exit of I-79. The lake is said to offer excellent bass fishing, and boats and trolling motors are allowed. There are also walking paths wrapping around the waters and a recreational area for the marksman. A modern target shooting range that is easily accessible to the public is available. The lake was quiet and tranquil with only a few fellow fishermen, and we enjoyed the afternoon by the water.

For those readers that are excited about fishing in a new spot, they say “fishing in the mighty Elk,” is the best kept secret of Clay County. There are four public boat launch sites on the Elk River in Clay: Queen Shoals bridge on the southern end of the county, Rt. 4 near the Clay-Kanawha county line, south of Spread Park on Rt. 4, and at the Villanova bridge. All are accessible for fishermen, kayaks, canoes, jon boats, etc. Small mouth and rock bass fishing are said to be great. Plan a fishing day.

There is also a city pool and some fantastic swimming holes located in Lilly’s Creek, just across a little wooden bridge past the J.G. Bradley campground at Dundon. Next year, there are plans to further “Ride into the Wilderness” by Buffalo Creek & Gauley Railroad Co-Operative. At this time, there are 20 rustic campsites with water and electric. Work continues on a lodge and visitor center at the campground location.

Another attraction that might interest you is the 1/4 mile O’Brion Oval Speedway. Located about 11 miles off of I-79, exit 46, admission is $10, and on a summer evening a race might be what kicks your heals up. If you prefer a slower pace or a step back in time, the Historic Clay County Courthouse, built in 1902, may be your destination. A genealogy library is open by appointments and the structure is a true piece of nostalgia.

From fishing to hiking to shooting ranges, and even a coon hunters club, Clay has a little something for each visitor.

Firing range

Lake Sampson; above and below.

Photos directly above are from the Wallback Wildlife Management Area off I-79.

Area Events:

June 27, Trent Tomlinson concert to celebrate City of Spencer’s 150th Birthday, 7:30 p.m.

June 28, Summer Jam 08, Beach Night, Bo Stephens, Tiff Farmer, Vicki Nottingham, Town of Clay, 7 p.m.

July 3-5, Gassaway Days and Celebration

July 4-6, Small Town America Independence Weekend Celebration, Town of Clay

July 4-6, Ellenboro Glass Festival

July 5, Elizabeth Volunteer Fire Dept. Ice Cream Social

July 5, Once Blue Bluegrass, North Bend State Park, 7 p.m.

July 6, Russell Ahner and Honorable Mention Band, North Bend, State Park, 7 p.m.

This Week's Editorial:

By Helen Morris:

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