more than you wanted to know, but once I shot the pictures, I just had
to post them...)
The Coal River ran past Cliffside, just across the white board fence and county road 131 (Little Coal River Road), from right to left as you looked out from camp. Earlier campers swam there, prior to pool construction at Cliffside. There were, as I remember it, concerns about mine drainage in the river, and by the 50s we mostly used the pools (and still used the "buddy" system). Remember the tetanus and typhoid shots we had to get? ...Thanks, Barbara, for reminding me about the river swimming and the shots! There will be a picture of the river "swimming enclosure" in the Cliffside section of the page.
I remember as a camper in the 'early 50s hiking a short distance upstream along the road with a counselor and group of campers, and "discovering" the double bridges. In the pictures here, you will see the two steel bridges which are located at "Forks of Coal," where two rivers come together to form the Coal River." The road past Cliffside goes under the west end of the west bridge. This bridge spans the west fork of the river (the Little Coal River). It is met on the east bank by the second, or east bridge, which spans the east fork (the Big Coal River), ending at the railroad which parallels county road 159.
The whole site is between Alum Creek on the north and the new Route 119 on the south. Charleston is to the right on this map, and Route 119 continues to Logan on the left.
picture from 2014 - Sign relating to the double bridges, mounted along Coal
on a picture to see the enlargement. Use the "back" button to
The west bridge was built in 1920, says the sign; it looks
it today. When we walked it in the 50's I remember hazily that the bridges
may have been painted white(?).
Patti Hunt in Indiana came across
a postcard with this picture of the Little Coal River Bridge (the
"west" bridge) under construction about 1920. Click for
enlargement. The white house to the west end of this bridge may still be
there. (Take a look on the Cliffside aerial photos...)
The west bridge crosses the road upstream from Cliffside;
here we are standing just above the road at the bridge entrance looking to
the east. There's a lot of rigid-looking steel here, but these are suspension
bridges, and the older campers delighted in making them sway a little when we
I remember the boards rattling around when we walked years
ago, and being afraid of falling through. Well, crossing again 50 years later
(with the spans apparently unmaintained for a while) did nothing to relieve
that fear. The river looks cleaner than I remembered it from the 50s, though.
At the intersection of the two bridges: looking at the
east bridge from under the west one.
Another view of the east bridge from the west. Note we
would not have had this same view; camp was in session in the summer. These
pictures were taken in March, 2001, obviously without leaves. As summer
campers, we were surprised when the second bridge "appeared" rather
suddenly at the end of the first.
...and yet another shot of the east bridge from the west
bridge. Note the west bridge plates coming unbolted, and a lot of rust. Both
bridges are similar...
The east bridge looking east from the intersection, across
the Big Coal River toward the railroad. Posts are driven at both ends to
The west bridge looking west from the intersection, over
the Little Coal River. Cliffside was 1/4 to 1/2 mile to the right, along the
road which is under the far end of the bridge.