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


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Tunnels and Timber Rattlers (?) of
Ritchie County

We had tasted a little of the rail trail at North Bend State Park and decided we wanted more. We were headed into Cairo and had been told the trail there leads through a haunted tunnel. I had no desire whatsoever to enter a supposedly haunted tunnel, but, unfortunately, my two traveling partners felt it was absolutely necessary.

We ended up in Cairo, a place tour guides say, “Not a step, but a fun filled leap back in time.” I guess on Sundays the leaping is sleeping, because most places were closed. We did get to rummage through the 1900’s old time R.C. Marshall store. It was an incredible discovery, full of gadgets and remedies straight from a history book. It could have been a nice close to a lovely day in Ritchie County, but no--that was not good enough for Andy and Mellody. The haunted tunnel was just down the road.

I confess to having an overactive imagination. I think that is why this journey down a lane of haunted mystery bothered me. For those of you who enjoy a hair-raising fear or a heart-pounding fright, more power to you, but this chicken prefers the calm of the barnyard. As we made our way around the last bend of the trail, the cold air from the tunnel engulfed us. It was at this time that I knew we weren’t even on the farm anymore let alone in the barnyard.

The legend of the Silver Run tunnel varies depending on who is telling it. The basic tale is of a young girl traveling to Parkersburg from Clarksburg to wed. It claims she mysteriously disappeared around Cairo and her spirit haunts the tunnel. Many train engineers claimed to have seen the young bride in her flowing white gown, fair skin, and dark hair walking along the rails of the tunnel. That is enough for me. Let the girl walk her path in peace.

The hearing of the legend was about to become more than just listening as we edged closer to the dark tunnel. Everything we had read told us to take a flashlight. Of course, the batteries were dead in ours, but we continued in our stride to dark, scary tunnel land. The darkness of the tunnel was truly more than I could even imagine. The tunnel obviously had a bend in it, because there was virtually “no light at the end of this creepy tunnel.”

Every fiber in me said, “Run you crazy fool.” In pitch darkness, muddy, cold, wet nastiness, I continued. Talking nonstop so that I couldn’t hear the whispers of a ghostly bride or the oncoming whistle of a train, images of ghosts creeping behind me entered my head, but a more common fear entered too. This dark, cold tunnel is a perfect home for snakes. My traveling buddies said snakes were unlikely, but I knew they lied. Just as we rounded the bend and light broke through the darkness, we could see a long silhouette of a snake on the tunnel floor.

I tend to the fight side in the fight or flight response, but the sight of that snake was enough for me to take action. I bolted to the end of the tunnel around the snake faster than lightning. It was too dark to see what kind of snake it was. I am certain it was the timber rattler or something deadly poisonous. Well, at least we had made it through the haunted tunnel of Silver Run. I was almost ready to cheer when I realized there was only one way back to the car--through the tunnel again. Can life be so cruel?

We left Ritchie County with a funny story, memories made, and cramped legs from our jolt back through a possibly snake-filled tunnel. Decide what you like, and you will find it in our neighbor to the north. Exciting, friendly, peaceful and yes--adventurous, Ritchie County has it all. Take a flashlight just to be safe.



Area Events:

July 10, Mountain Lake Amphitheater, Flatwoods, Jake Owen, 7 p.m.

July 11, Lou Mauri Appalachian Clogging, North Bend, 7 p.m.

July 12, Yard Dogs w/Ron Drake, Country Ramblers, Clay, 7 p.m.

July 12, Bil Lepp, Storyteller/Liar, North Bend State Park, 7 p.m.

July 18-20, International Sports Jamboree, North Bend State Park

July 18-25, Mountainfest Motorcycle Rally Stop, North Bend

July 19, Paul Cottrell and High Mountain Bluegrass, Ward Weaver and Ronald Donaldson, Clay, 7 p.m.

This Week's Editorial:

By Helen Morris:

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