Monday, April 22, 2013

Exploring Lewisburg, West Virginia

        Layered blue-green mountains and fields bursting with wildflowers surrounded me as I drove through Greenbrier County on my way to Lewisburg, West Virginia. 
My destination this evening was the 170 year-old General Lewis Inn, perched on a hilltop at the edge of town.  I checked into my second floor room and stepped back in time; the beds are 100 years old, the walls uneven, the floors creaky.  But still, the room radiated a certain old-world charm.  After settling in I walked downstairs to the candlelit dining room.
I ordered the Chicken Randolf entree—a boneless chicken breast stuffed with country ham, swiss cheese and herbs, and served with a medley of sauteed vegetables.  For dessert I enjoyed a chocolate sundae and a smooth cup of coffee.  

"Country roads, take me home."
Picture yourself here, on the country lanes near Lewisburg.


I woke at 2:00 a.m. to the sounds of wind sighing through the shutters and rain gushing over the gutters.  I listened for over an hour before falling back to sleep.  I woke again at 8:30; it felt good to sleep in on this water-logged morning.
Breakfast in the downstairs dining room—French toast with spiced apples and grits—was every bit as delicious as last night’s dinner. 

General Lewis Inn, 19th century excellence.

       After checking out of the General Lewis I drove straight to Lost World Caverns, five miles north of town.  The caverns offer a self-guided tour; you’re given a flashlight and a brochure and you enter by descending a steep and slippery pathway to the cave’s mouth.  
Walking the half mile path, I marveled at the stalagmites and stalactites, their calcite deposits sparkling like jewels.  I spent 40 minutes walking the paths and in all that time no one else appeared.  All alone in the cave I heard the splash of every falling water drop, the echo of every tumbling pebble—and I imagined the whole thing crashing down around me. 

 Focusing my attention elsewhere I spied a beam of light streaming from a hole 120 feet above the cave’s floor.  My cavern brochure told this story:  “A farmer who lived here 80 years ago used to throw his dead cows down the hole.  He said to a neighbor: ‘That danged hole never seems to fill up.’  So the neighbor threw a rope down the hole, rappelled down and found this amazing cave.”   I agree, Lost World Caverns is an amazing place and well worth a visit.

One of the walkways through Lost World Caverns—
kind of creepy when you're here all by yourself.

The "War Club" stalagmite.

30 ton stalactite.

The "Wedding Cake" formation.
        Returning to Lewisburg I investigated the downtown shops and restaurants.  I bought two novels in the Open Book.  I slurped homemade split pea soup in The Wild Bean.  As I strolled the sidewalk other shops and eateries called out to me but I didn’t have the time to linger.
Leaving town I noticed signs pointing to a Civil War Cemetery and followed the arrows to a gated patch of grass between a quarry and a farmer’s field.  There, under a mound in the shape of a cross, lie ninety-five unknown Confederate Soldiers.  Gnarled old trees stand guard over the soldier’s graves.  It’s a somber place, a fitting end to my Lewisburg tour on this cool and dreary day.  

The only acknowledgement for 95 unknown souls.

Cross-shaped burial mound in Civil War Cemetery.

Read about the General Lewis Inn, Lost World Caverns and historic Lewisburg, West Virginia by browsing these websites:


  1. What an absolutely beautiful experience you had in Lewisburg, WV!

    From all the marvelous items you experienced (lovely accommodations, delicious food, etc) it's easy to see why the slogan "Wild and Wonderful" has been used to extol the virtues of this State.

    Cheri and I travel through WV at least once a year on our way to visit relatives in NC and KY. Unfortunately, we never have time for a stopover, to enjoy what you experienced. Each time we drive through the State, I can't help but think of the following opening lines to John Denver's song entitled "Take Me Home, Country Roads".

    "Almost heaven, West Virginia, Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River.
    Life is old there, older than the trees, younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze."


    1. John Denver certainly had it right with the lyrics to "Country Roads".

      I thoroughly enjoyed the six days I spent in West Virginia, viewing the beauty of this green and mountainous state. But while there I couldn't help but be saddened by the fact that mountain-top removal mining is actively destroying many of the state's mountains. Yes, I understand the importance of coal mining to West Virginia's economy and I know that we all use coal-powered electricity. But still—what's being lost is irreplaceable.

      I hope you and Cheri have the time to spend a few days exploring West Virginia the next time you travel south!

      Thanks for your comments, John!

  2. Hi Rita,

    Your travels through (and beneath) Lewisburg sound so relaxing - even with the rainy weather. And your cave photos are amazing!

    So, the big question I was left with: Are those cow skeletons still down there?!

    1. Vickie, you're right—even with the rainy weather the West Virginia trip was soothing, relaxing and refreshing!

      And now, to answer your big question: After reading about the "dead cow burial site" I looked around and around for bones or skeletons. But I didn't see anything at all. Could be the owners of Lost World Caverns removed all the decaying bones before opening the cave for tourists. I think it would have added to the aura if they had left a few bovine skeletons behind!

      As always, I appreciate your comments!

  3. Replies
    1. I do feel lucky to have been able to tour and enjoy the many splendors of West Virginia.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Manikchand!