To, through and beyond: MonongahMarch 30, 2018
To pretentiously quote Aristotle yet again in this blog series, “The whole is more than the sum of its parts.”
Now, this next question will be bold, flirting with ignorance. … Is he even right? The parts that make up Marion County might just be pretty great themselves, you know, individually.
Let’s continue the philosophical pursuit in Monongah!
This is one of those towns that seems just too sweet to be true. Driving into town (immediately slow down) everyone and everything seems so happy. Every house is sun-soaked (at all hours). Driving is easy. Neighbors are neighborly. Life just makes sense here (aside from the sun). Long story short, it’s quite the cheerful place.
Your first stop is Monongah Furniture and Antiques. With old-school appliances, barrels, picnic baskets, bird cages, trunks, you can go full hipster very easily. Aside from the furniture in classic vintage hues (banana, mauve, olive, floral), take home a record player, wire mannequins, and a knight in vintage armor. Every trend comes back around, and today vintage is the new modern.
Now, for the most delicious stop: the Dairy Kone. There might not be a restaurant in town, but there doesn’t need to be! Dairy Kone covers it all with roast beef sandwiches, honey dipped chicken, plus your typical burgers, Philly cheesesteaks, deep fried pickles, and all that jazz.
Save some gastrointestinal room for the dessert possibilities! Consider a marshmallow, peanut butter or a caramel milkshake (plus a ton more flavors), Chocolate Monkeys and/or an Oreo Delight. And then there’s more! Aside from shakes and specialty desserts, they have what’s called a Blitz. A blitz? A blitz. A blitz comes in almost 30 different flavors: blueberry cheesecake, brownie cheesecake, pineapple upside down cake, smores, confetti!
Once you’ve got your ice cream, head down the hill to burn it off. Hutchinson Park and rail trail are, like the entire town, sun-soaked and happy. The West Fork River Rail Trail is particularly stunning. But don’t forget to play in all the acres of the park!
Monongah, aside from being the hometown of Nick Saban, is truly inspiring in all sorts of way. Follow historic signs about coal mining history on the rail trail to end with a beautiful and heart-rending monument. The monument is dedicated to the 361 miners killed in the 1907 Monongah Mine Disaster. As the worst mining disaster in American History, it’s a title that no one wanted, but everyone remembers.
If you’re in town in August, head to Monongahfest. Sometimes things change and sometimes they stay the same; Monongahfest is no different. In festivals past, we’ve seen dunking machines, pinball tournaments and a good ol fashioned townhall country breakfast. What you can be certain to expect each year is a grand parade, the Little Miss Monongahfest Pageant, a corn hole tournament, tug of war, live music, and last but not least, a duck race on the river!
Monongah also maintains a few nods to the county’s history. Stop at Mary Lou Retton Park, named for West Virginia’s one and only Olympic gold medalist. The 25 (rolling) acres have four baseball fields and basketball courts. Thankfully, there’s also a playground if, you know, you’re more childlike than athletic.
After a good game of sports, take a walk around to see the West Virginia Miners Memorial. This shows each county that has lost men in mining disasters across the state. Stone structures of each county surround the statue of a “coal miner who lost his life in the mine.”
Right outside the park is another one of the county’s many rail trails. It’s beautiful and picturesque. It is quintessential West Virginia and perfectly Marion (as is anything outside and relaxing).
This next stop is full of meat and cheese, nuts, candy, and honey. It must be Creekside Country Market, the one and only Amish bulk food store in the county. This is a great way to shop clean and local. All foods are from Amish communities in bordering states, making it both local and cleaner than your typical grocery store. Plus, it’s all delicious – as would be expected. Find lots of eggs, noodles, soups, and best of all, homemade cinnamon buns and pastries.
Take your delicious Amish food and have a picnic at Worthington Park. You can also play softball and baseball (if you’re an athletic person), and there’s a playground for children (and non-athletes). Check out the horseshoe pitching court! (It might be the happy medium activity for the athletic and the not.)
If you’d rather just enjoy what nature has to offer, then catch some fish in the West Fork and/or hit the trail. Yes, there is yet another rail trail. Can you believe that? … Psych! It’s the same one from Mary Lou Retton, just the other end of it. It’s not mandatory, but if you have a desire to hike the 16 miles, you should do it – athletic or not. It’s picture perfect West Virginia.
It just might be the greenest green in all the state. Green Hills Golf Course is true to its name in both color and concept. The golf course is a favorite with its 18-hole championship course and pro shop. It’s more than a course and practice range, though. The covered patio and pool mean even non-golfers can have a good time on the green.
If you’d like to be the countriest of chic, the chicest of country, then you’ll have to shop Crystal’s Country Closet. So you’ll need a watering can (regardless of whether you have a garden), a rustic memo board (regardless of whether you have things to do), a dinner bell (regardless of how much land you have), Hostess cake boxes (regardless of whether you have cake… you should), a Dubl Handi washboard (regardless of whether you have a washer), mason jar soap dispensers (regardless of whether you have hands) and antlers (needs no explanation).
If you’re not into country chic, there are also some inspiring vintage hipster pieces. Get vintage books, a Burroughs Typewriter, a Kodak Dualfelx, and suitcases. I mean actual suitcases. Remember on shows like I Love Lucy when people would travel? Yeah, those suitcases.
And that was the last stop for this blog. But it is certainly not the last stop in the series! Monongah, where the sun always shines (both physically and metaphorically speaking), is such a beautiful part of Marion. And there are more parts to see!