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May 26, 2014

The Best Day Ever! {photo tour of my favorite town}

When I was little, I was known to exclaim "This is the Best. Day. Ever!" even, or particularly, when something little happened. This past Saturday definitely deserved the title, which I gave it more than once. ;)

I've been hoping to share this little town with you all for a while now, and I finally have the chance. Daniel and I decided rather last-minute to visit Webster Springs, WV on Saturday for their 50th Woodchopping Festival ("Woodchoppers," as we call it). Last minute being because I just happen to currently be on the rare sleep schedule of waking up--on my own--about 7 o'clock, so we actually got to leave before mid-morning. It was just meant to be. I slept all night and woke up thinking we might actually go, and I was excited like a little kid at Christmas. Seriously. Let me try to 'splain why.

I grew up going to the Woodchoppers Festival with my family every Memorial Day weekend. We would go stay at my great-great grandmother's house, where my great-great aunt also lived, with another great-aunt next door, and another nearby. All of my mom's side of the family would be there, and those weekends are some of the best memories of my childhood. My great-great grandmother died when I was 7, and we went to Woodchoppers the last time when I was about 10 or 12, visited Webster Springs not for the festival a couple more times after that, and then Daniel and I went one summer three years ago. So I hadn't been to Woodchoppers in about 15 years.

Beyond those reasons for wanting to go, my grandmother grew up in Webster Springs, and my ancestry is rooted in the area. I wasn't born a Hamrick in name, my great-great grandmother's last name, but I really am a Hamrick--the pale skin and wavy red hair is thanks to the Hamricks, and I like to think of it as a gift from them. :) My grandmother is the only other person in the family who has those features.

I've attempted to put into words for my husband my deep, deep attachment to Webster Springs. The best I can manage is that it's the home of my ancestors, and since they're in my blood, their home is in my blood too. And it feels like home to me.

So combine the memories and the almost unexplainable love I have for the town itself, and Webster Springs is my very favorite place and the most beautiful place ever to me. This post is really going to be the longest in the history of blogland, but I wanted to offer a tour of my heart's hometown on a very special day.

The curvy roads get pretty crazy, even for WV standards. The best one is to come later.
Boo on blurriness.
The town is deep in the valley, and you'll see surrounding gorgeous green mountains in these pictures frequently.

Every visit begins with a walk up this hill, to pass by my great-great grandmother's house.

We then continue on up the hill to see a very special house...

The McLaughlin House was once a doctor's house and now, a good 100 years later, is being turned into a museum. Safe to say, the most beautiful house I've ever seen.

Pictures just don't do it.

That little house next to it is actually where my great-grandmother, great-grandfather, and grandmother lived when she was very little. Which makes the McLaughlin house that much more special.

Even the walkway makes me happy...

So at this point, I need to insert a story. When we visited Webster Springs back in 2007, I first found out about this house and wanted to go in it and ended up setting up a meeting with the man in charge of it to get a tour. Long story short, I met this older man and found out we are distant cousins, which we figured out because he and I are both so into genealogy. Thus ensued a now and then letter-writing friendship over the years with my Cousin Alfred. I didn't tell him we were coming and just hoped he would be there, and as we walked up to the house, guess who poked his head out? Reunited after 7 years...

I love the stairs...

View of my grandmother's tiny old house from the window.

Then we headed to Baker's Island, where they hold Woodchoppers. I had to stop and say hey to Jack like I used to...

And the Veterans' Memorial is on the way, with the Courthouse behind.

My great-great uncle, great-great aunt, and her husband.

The gorgeous courthouse.

Unfortunately that ginormous hotel burned down a long time ago. I hope to do a post on it someday.

Then we crossed the bridge to the island. This is the view, the Elk River.

And of course the woodchopping. :)

Then we headed back across the town to the Swinging Bridge (coming up). I know Lover's Lane was somewhere around here back during the age of the giant hotel that burned, and I'm not sure if this is it, but that's what I call it. :)

On the way to the Swinging Bridge, this house is across the river. My great-great grandparents lived here once with their six children.

And we're to the Swinging Bridge!

Yes, it really swings when you walk on it. :)

Half the beauty of Webster Springs is the smell--particularly of the river. One of the most amazing smells in the world, and there's always a delicious breeze.


Then before we left, I had to go by the cemetery, where everyone is buried: my great-great grandparents, great grandparents, and my great grandmother's siblings and their spouses. All in a row.

And on the way out of town, you have to stop at The Custard Stand. They're so awesome, you can get their hot dog chili, which they're famous for, at Walmart. Now, I can't exactly have hot dogs and ice cream right now, but Daniel got him some ice cream, which they had tons of. ;)

This is the road right in front of The Custard Stand. Curves much?

He was very intent. ;)

We didn't even get to get in the river, which is generally a must, or go see the Hamrick barn, which is a bit farther down the road. Again, hopefully a future post can cover that. :)

I am just so grateful that this trip actually worked out. I'd been wanting to go back to Woodchoppers for years and then especially wanted to go with Daniel. A lot had to work out for us to go, including me actually being able. (Last time we went to Webster Springs, it took us three weekends of trying to get my body to cooperate to go.) Like I mentioned, I was miraculously asleep early and up early so that we could go. I was soon dead exhausted from all the walking, my stomach tried to kill me later that night, and I am still soo sore from the day, but I am so thankful for this trip. The weather was perfect, we didn't even get sunburned, and it was honestly a dream come true for me.

This was definitely the Best. Day. Ever! :D And I hope you've enjoyed my "little" tour of it. :)

If you liked this, you might enjoy my other genealogy-related posts here.

Image Map


  1. this post was so cute! So nice to be so involved with your family's history and be able to see all the places they used to live!

  2. I loved this little "tour". The courthouse pictures were great! I'm glad you got to go, and let us see a little of it through your blog. Happy Monday!

  3. I LOVE that you would say that when you were little!! I wish you lots and LOTS of best days. What beautiful pictures - thank you for sharing this story with us! Those pictures of you and your hubby are so, so sweet. XO

  4. I love days like these, it definitely deserves that description!

    1. Yes, it was amazing.... :) Thanks so much for stopping by! =)

  5. Those pictures...so beautiful! I love the family history behind this special place for you...so sentimental and so sweet. The fact that it means so much to is priceless. Now I see why it was the best day ever!

  6. This blog was awesome. Loved the pictures. I may be a bit prejudice since this is my bometown! I moved away after I graduated, but I love this special place. It will always be home to me!

    1. Thank you so much! It definitely feels like home and I never even lived there. Such a special place! :)

  7. What a beautiful post. Great photography and a wonderful blog. I guess living here we take too much for granted. Try to get back soon and share some more of your memories. Thanks.

    Tom Clark
    Festival Director

    1. Thank you so much! I would so love to come back soon, though not sure when it will happen. But I think about Webster Springs often. :)

  8. Appreciated your post very much and would like to make a few comments, liked the view across the river of your g-grandparents house but the Payne family lived there when I was growing up as my grandparents lived in that house to the left.. Also Lovers Lane started about 100 yards below the McLaughlin house and went along the hillside above the Back Fork River ending at the Conrad house near the second swinging bridge upstream.. The small house your family lived in next to the McLaughlin house was Dr. James McLaughlin's office.. He started a hospital in the larger building across the street to the north but his early death in 1910 killed that...

    1. Thank you so much for checking it out! And thank you for clearing up where Lover's Lane was--I could never find someone to explain it in modern-day terms. And I knew that that tiny house was his office, but somehow after that my grandmother lived there briefly with her parents, itty bitty as it was. We toured it once a while back and she got to point out her memories--so small!

  9. Great shots of our hometown. Thank you for posting!

  10. Really enjoyed your blog. I haven't been back to WS for Woodchoppers in many, many years. I loved what you said about the smell of the river, because I could smell it as I looked at your pictures. Nothing like it! God bless you.
    Susan Cressler Okun

    1. Aw, I love that you could smell it like that! Definitely one of my absolute favorite smells. Thank you so much for commenting, and God bless you! :)


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