Not sure where we got the idea to visit the Gauley Bridge. One would think that with all of the roads going up and down the mountain, the bridges connecting them would by something spectacular. This is not the case with the Gauley Bridge.
It’s just an overpass a few feet above the river. We have bigger overpasses in New Jersey. Next to the bridge was the Welcome Center, too bad it wasn’t opened when we stopped by, I wanted to find out more about the bridge so I could figure out why it was on our list of stops.
The New River and Gauley River merge at the bridge to form the Kanawha River. Regardless of the disappointing bridge, the river views were great.
About a mile outside of town on Route 60 we saw a bunch of cars pulled over on the shoulder so we stopped to see what the attraction was. To our surprise, it was a waterfall that feeds the river.
We left the Gauley Bridge and headed east on the Midland Trail for about 15 miles to our next stop, The Mystery Hole.
The Mystery Hole is the quintessential roadside attraction. When you walk up to the building there is a sign that says “If you don’t want to follow the rules do not buy a ticket for the tour” (Green chalkboard on right)
Basically the rules are No phones, camera, or electronic devices, and “People with heart ailments, vertigo, or high blood pressure do not enter”. I was a little concerned after reading the rules, especially since the bottom of the sign there was a note saying “Not responsible for accidents, or after effects.” The tour was only 15 minutes so I figured I could handle it.
While waiting for our tour to begin I did a little shopping around. Notice that the building is a quonset hut, also the exhaust fans on the roof.
The tour begins with the guide explaining the entrance gate, which was designed by the original owner, to allow only one person to enter at a time. I was vertical wood boards of different lengths linked together by chains that opened in the center. The owner must have been a retired engineer. As we passed through the gate, we walked down a ramp another door which would have put sat a basement level the main building. Before we went through the door the guide pointed out an old hornet’s nest and joked that they haven’t stung anyone in a long time. Yea, it’s getting corny.
We entered the doorway and made a quick right turn. to our left was three mannequins dressed up as beauty contestants. Miss West Virginia was one of them; don’t remember the other two. The guide explained why they where there and that they are still single. Corny meter just raised to 50%.
We moved on to the main room which was a typical room that seemed to tilt to one side. Before the guide started the “demonstrations” he pointed out the he/she room, basically a unisex port-a-potty, and when he opened the door a female dressed mannequin popped out. The corny meter is now at 75%. The demonstration consisted of a golf ball rolling uphill, water flowing in a log “uphill”, and balls hanging from strings that were skewed as if gravity was pulling them off-center.
Since cameras weren’t allowed, here’s some pictures from their website:
In front of the two women is a couch that the tour guide had a family sit on during the demonstration. When it was over he asked them to stand up, which they couldn’t, and they had to use the red bars to pull themselves up. When the tour was over we exited the room and walked up a ramp that lead us right into the gift shop and the main building.
Like I said, The Mystery Hole is the quintessential roadside attraction. I didn’t find it mysterious, and never saw the hole. Also, the $6.50 cost may seem a little steep for a 15 minutes tour, but it’s worth it because you’ll probably never experience something like this again. After visiting, I thought of adding a page to the blog site to list all of the strange places we’ll see when we start traveling.
- Dining Out $30.00
- Attractions $13.00
- Souvenirs $18.54
- Campsite $42.17