At 12:04 AM 07/02/2002, Lana Seguin-Spillman wrote:


I just got back late last night from my 3 1/2 day trip to W.Va.  Thursday morning it was raining as I drove toward Glen (the directions you are posting are better than going Dutch Ridge Road, I think -- a friend suggested I go the same way you are suggesting).  I did drive back on Dutch Ridge Road, though (how did those buses do that years ago?!). 

First I drove down to the Hunting and Fishing Club -- looks pretty much the same as I remember it the couple of times I went there.  The road down is steeper and more narrow than I remember, though, with some areas of bare rock (kinda scarey when it is raining). 
Next I went in search of the camps along Blue Creek.  The gravel road down has a small sign, "Camp Joshua Scott," from the eastern of two entry roads joining just down from Dutch Ridge Road.  Near the bottom I met a young couple passing in their car and asked them if I was on the right road.  I can't remember the guy's name, but he was quick to say that his uncle had run both Camelot and Carlisle.  (Who would that be?) He directed me down the road and to the right, adding that the camps would be found a few miles down the road, where there are clearings.  (Now I wonder if he had been to the camp sites recently.)  At the bottom of the long hill I turned sharply right and soon saw Camp Galahad on the left, much as I remembered, but it was discouraging when I got just close enough to see that the pool is in total disrepair and empty of water.  I remember brochures for the camp with pictures of the kids around the pool on the front, as a big selling point.  Although I saw a few people walking around in the camp, I didn't cross the bridge but parked my vehicle near the bridge to the camp. 

I started by crossing the creek and and soon came to the gate you described.  It was not locked and wide open.  Blue Creek was very silty/muddy from the rains of that morning and the day before -- sort of orange in color -- and it was apparent from that point west that the water actually had been much higher earlier in the season because there are large, thick deposits of silt where the road goes into and out of the creek.  I made six major stream crossings (I counted on the way back) and got wet up to above my knees, but the current wasn't too strong and the cool water felt great on a hot, humid day.  My sneakers were wet and filled with silt, but I didn't mind at all.  In addition to the crossings, there were numerous large puddles, some of which were as wide as the dirt road.  It probably will be a lot drier by the middle of July.  I think the main road location has been alterred in the past few years -- I could see remnants of a dirt road in a different, almost parallel, location at several points along the way. 

Overall, the whole area is very heavily vegetated, except where the gas and oil people have moved in. (I watched for snakes (saw none) and there was some, but not a lot of, poison ivy.  The ticks were a little more of a problem -- I picked at least 5 off myself over the next day or so.)  At one point there are bright orange and black plastic pipes dangling among the trees.  I saw remnants of a road and not long after that a trail both coming down the hill to the north of the road I was on -- wondered if these were the paths we took down as campers. I figured I walked approximately two to two-and-a-half miles (but that could be an over-estimate) and saw only one well-cleared area, to the north, which looked like it had been cleared fairly recently for the gas drilling operations. I turned around when I got to the train bridge over the creek, which I didn't remember, and considering the fact that I was alone, I was a little concerned about allowing plenty of time to get back to civilization.  Some topo maps would have been extremely helpful, and I would recommend anyone searching get some of the area to follow.  Looking at the aerial photo now I see a straight line down to the Camelot site that logically could be an old railroad line.  So I figure I got to the end of the Camelot site.  There was somewhat of a level area with younger trees and many small hemlocks just upstream and across the creek from the place where I turned around.  It was very much vegetated.  Could that be Camelot?  If so, I regret not getting as far as Carlisle, but I realize there wouldn't be much to see.  If that wasn't Camelot I guess I just didn't go far enough. 
So, it was somewhat of a frustrating hike not knowing where I was along the way, but it was very beautiful, especially with some of the huge rhododendrons in bloom.  I saw two hawks, numerous colorful butterflies and dragonflies, and many American toad eggs in one of the large puddles.  That area has such an abundance of biodiversity -- it's really too bad the oil, gas, and lumbering activities have become so numerous.  Singing Carlisle songs along the way helped me relive in my mind the many wonderful experiences I had at Carlisle.  I am so glad I made the trip! 

Visiting what is left of Camp Cliffside on Sunday morning was much less moving, but in some strange ways more interesting.  I found Cliffside by taking the small Alum Creek exit off 119 south (off Davis Creek Road) then asking the locals for directions when I got to Alum Creek.  It is pretty simple -- just travel from 119 to just past the bridge over the Coal River, immediately turning left there at the "Corner Mart" and traveling about 0.8 mile to Cliffside on the right.  The long white fence is gone, but what is amazing is all of the buildings and other structures that are still there -- the entrance stone marker and sign (with some unnecessary foul language hand-written on it), the Dispensary (sign over the door still in place)and a small building to the left of it, the Dining Hall (hidden somewhat behind small houses), and cabins 13/14 (most amazingly with the numbers still above the doors)!  Most of the camp area is covered with small houses and trailers, so it is hard to get the whole picture.  Is the pool the same one we swam in?  It truly is hard to believe that so many of the structures are still standing, but I was pleased to see them again, even if they aren't in good shape. 

So, those were my visits to the camp sites.  I look forward to reading from those who attend the reunion -- thoughts, impressions, discoveries, feelings, revived memories -- after the reunion is completed. 

Sent: Tuesday, July 02, 2002 2:58 PM                                                     (POSTED 1/31/2007)
Subject: Re: Visit to Blue Creek (and to Coal Creek)


I believe you probably passed both camp sites. I believe the first stream crossing is near Camp Galahad and then it might be the second crossing which takes you back to the south side of the creek as you pass the old entrance to Camelot. The stone pillars that framed that entrance are still there, toppled on the creek bank. The only other physical evidence of Camelot, really, was a corner of the pool which I saw when I visited, but remember that was early Spring, and the vegetation was not all that thick yet. The next crossing (back to the north side) would be just downstream of Carlisle. (Remember, the road was moved so it stays on the south side of the creek between the two camp sites now.)

Go back over the Camelot pictures at
and I think you may see some familiar ground. If you truly walked about 2 miles, I'm almost sure you passed both sites.

I believe the big, cleared gas-well site across the creek to the north (at the mouth of Panther Hollow?) is just a bit upstream of the Carlisle site (about where Carlisle's swimming area was on the older days; see the aerial photos). The straight lines on the aerial photos are, I believe, gas lines which take the product from the wells to a receiving site.

The railroad never really reached Camelot (or Carlisle), as I remember it. We were let off the train in the woods -- it could have been just after crossing the bridge you mentioned -- and had a short hike which came out North of the creek at Carlisle. Then the boys would hike on up to Camelot, arriving on the North side of the creek and crossing the footbridge to get to the camp. I have been meaning to try to find some evidence of that north-side trail.

Cliffside: The first thing I noticed when I visited was the chain-link fence, which certainly does nothing for the site like Cliffside's old white board fence! I thought about trying to hike up to the old campfire circle, but I was getting curious stares from the residents by then...

The pool: I believe that is new. Ours were a three-foot beginner pool and a four-foot "advanced" pool, with the filtration equipment right next door to the east. It looks a little different now. The lake is the same.  What I was curious about was why they tore down that nice gymnasium/office building just at the end of the parking area (at the end of the cabin row). Would make a nice community center...?

The cabins all overgrown were a little depressing, but it was moving that they are there at all after all this time.  I looked specifically to see the little drilled holes in the window sills where the American flag would be put after inspection, to indicate the "winners" on such matters as hospital corners, and blankets pulled so tight that you could bounce a quarter on them!  It was a good growing-up experience wasn't it? 

How -- How!