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This year once again, we planned to get together in Charleston and on Blue Creek to have some fun and remember our days as Carbide Campers! It's been 24 years since Carlisle and Camelot closed, and the popularity of past reunions has shown that our days as campers still matter.
Friday evening July 14
Bear's Den - lower level of the Daniel Boone building, Capitol and Washington
--- Ideas welcome ---
Thanks again, Karin
Since we didn't make it out to the Creek during the reunion weekend, primarily due to weather, I decided to drive to WV this past weekend and try again. My wife, Diane, came with me and we drove down from Cleveland after work on Friday. On Saturday morning around 11am, we made the trip out to the Creek. It was slightly overcast, but as the day wore on, it cleared up. And despite the recent rains in southern WV, the creek crossings weren't at all difficult, even though the creeks seemed to be slightly higher than last year. The "roads" had their usual share of wet, muddy holes, but nothing a 4X4 couldn't handle. I have some pics I'll forward to you, but basically everything looks pretty much the same.
I took a pic of the sign to the Hunting/Fishing Club at the top of Dutch Ridge Road. It's different from the one pictured in the directions on your web site. [Added it to the maps page - Bob] The current sign is a blue one that is actually rather bent and beat up. When we arrived at the H/F Club, there were several people fishing at the lower lake. They gave a friendly wave as we crossed the bridge and entered the grounds. The lodge looked the same, and we even went inside. There was no one around. I took a couple of pics at the lodge, including one of the inside, but my flash didn't seem to be very effective as the pic came out rather dark.
On the way to towards Camelot, we encountered several small trees that had fallen and were resting on some lines that run adjacent to the road. We were able to cross under them without incident. Those lines certainly would not support a tree much larger than the ones resting on them now. (I'm not sure what those line are - phone? power?). There seems to be a little more clearing/cutting of trees on the north hillside of the Creek between Camelot and (former) Galahad.
The Camelot site is unchanged from last year. But standing there in the calm and silence, again a tear started to well up in my eyes, but it passed. Since my wife has only heard stories about Camelot and Carlisle, I took with me the Scott Mease pictures of his last visit to the camps before they were leveled. As we approached the Creek crossing, I stopped the Land Rover and got out the picture of the crossing showing the footbridge, the hanging Camelot sign, the stone pillars, and began to explain what once was. I showed her the picture of the stone entrance pillars and where they once stood, then pointed out where they now lay on their sides, toppled over and unmoved, of course. With Scott's pictures, I was able to identify the large tree on the south side of the Creek where the footbridge once was. As we sat at the camp site, I showed her several pics of the Castle and Wings; where the Director's cabin and nurse's cabin were on the hillside; where the basketball court and pool once were. I showed her the picture of the Stables and pointed out the approximate location. I explained how the road has been re-routed, and that there used to be a bridge that crossed back over the Creek to the Stables. As someone who didn't even know about Carbide Camps, and as a first time visitor to the Creek, I think she was amazed that it's gone. At one point she said "All that was here?". She commented how small the area appears now to have had all those buildings there. Maybe the forest is reclaiming the area more than we realize.
We sat there and ate a snack and just took in the scenery. However, as we were standing there, I noticed a small dull golden, copper-ish spot of color on one of the logs in that large pile of timber at the camp site. I managed to walk up to the lumber pile with Diane's (and my cane's) help. It turned out to be a small (about 2 ft.) but very feisty Copperhead. It was none too happy when I snagged it with the catcher. Diane took a few pics of it, although she refused to get very close when taking the picture. I released it back to the wood pile.
We drove only slightly west towards Carlisle and it appears there may be some more clearing of trees north of the Creek since last year. We went out to the Horseback also. Big Laurel Creek was a little higher, and the pond and waterfall looked wonderful. There were even some white blossoms (maybe too small for Rhododendron) over the waterfall. I took a couple of pics and I'll send them too you also, but they came out a little dark. Nothing changed from last year - the Horseback Hilton (that little shack) is still there, and it's definitely been used recently. Here was something odd: as we were coming in to Horseback, and approaching the right-hand turn that takes you to the site, a pickup truck was coming up that little incline. I stopped to let it out, and as it passed, it was pulling a boat on a trailer !
We spent a couple of hours on the Creek, and it was good to make the trip again. Standing there in the silence, one easily remembers what once happened in that special place. You can almost hear the Bell ringing; campers heading off to the stables, pool or rifle range; the screen doors of the wings slamming as campers line up to go into the Castle for dinner. I'm always amazed at how quiet and peaceful it is out there. Even in my relatively peaceful suburb of Hudson, Ohio, it can't get anywhere near as quiet and tranquil as on the Creek. It's nice to sometimes just stand and listen to the silence.
Hopefully there will be a huge turnout next July for the big 25th Carbide Camps Reunion.
At "Bear's Den" in Charleston, WV for the mini-reunion