The Pink Cone of Pocahontas County

February 3, 2014 |

Along the highway in Pocahontas County, West Virginia sits a pink,15 foot Tepee. Shrouded in local mystery, no plaque or sign is out front to explain just what it is, but chances are if you’ve driven past the thing, it’s caught your eye. It is located along US 219 up Elk Mountain about five miles north of Marlinton.

Sometime in the 1920s or 1930s the Cone was built. It was first painted to resemble an upside down ice cream cone and was possibly first used as the Tastee-Freeze ice cream stand in downtown Marlinton. “I remember when the ice cream stand was down in Marlinton at that gas station. Very very early,” says Robert Sharp.

Alice McClure Rogers, left, and her sister Heather.

Alice McClure Rogers, left, and her sister Heather. The Pink Cone can be seen at back left.

“It sat one the corner of 8th Street and 4th Avenue in Marlinton next to what was then a Conoco Station, now the home of Pocahontas Fuel. Mason May is remembered by some as the man who dipped ice cream from the gallons stored in a freezer at what appears to be Marlinton’s first Tastee-Freeze,” says Jaynell Graham, who wrote about the early history of the Cone in a newspaper article a few years ago.

4th Avenue and Main St. where the Cone probably once stood. Photo by J. Graham.

4th Avenue and Main St. where the Cone probably once stood. Photo by J. Graham.

Keith Moore also remembers the Cone when it was located in downtown Marlinton. “The ice cream cone was used for a variety of things. I think they kept some oil in there at one time for the service station.”

But Keith’s most vivid memory of the Cone is also a very painful one. “You only do some things once in your life, and you never do them again. I tried to lick the frost off of the railing there at the ice cream cone, dumb stuff. And the second mistake I made was jerking loose. I don’t know whether the hide ever grew back on my tongue or not!”

Sometime in the early 1950s Mrs. McClure purchased the Cone that her daughters, Alice and Heather, used as a playhouse. One of her daughters, Alice McClure Rogers, who now lives in Elkins, showed us a photo of the Cone that was taken in 1954 in their backyard, on 10th Ave. in Marlinton. “You can see the little upside down ice cream cone-house right there. And we had it white on the bottom and kind of like a beige, coming down half way.”

photo by R. Todd

photo by R. Todd

“My mom got it. She saw it at a filling station. And she thought, to herself, hmm, that’d be a nice playhouse for the girls. And so she inquired about it, and the man sold it to her, and got it moved. And it was our playhouse for years and years. The kids played in it. Got in out of the rain in it. Even did some bad things in it. Such as, I had taken some cigarettes from my dad one time. So my friends all came over and we snuck a cigarette. And the smoke was coming in the windows!”

“And my mom and them thought the place was on fire. So they come a running. And caught us. And I had it up until, well, it was still in the yard when I left Marlinton at, I was in Junior High, I was in the 7th grade.”

Sometime in the 1960s, Freddie Hammons remembers when the Cone was moved up to Brownsburg road in Marlinton. “Now a man lived in it. This guy lived in the cone, tepee, up at Forest McChesney’s, as you go out towards Brownsburg. You go out Brownsburg area probably about a mile, and they lived on the left hand side of the road there. Forest McChesney was the garbage man in town, he hauled the garbage. And somebody had him to move it out of town and take it up there.”

Robert Sharp knew the McChesneys and also remembers the cone when it was located in the Brownsburg area. “Jim Walker I think lived in it. For a little while, not long. Matter of fact I was in the next house up from them. In the community of Brownsburg. It was a colored community at that time.”

Karen Sharp shares a similar memory of the Cone when it stood on the McChesneys’ property. “I remember the McChesneys living, like he said, in the next house below. And I remember they had a garbage truck. And I remember Miss Sally and Mr. Forest, and Ruth their daughter, and Hazel.”

Photo by G. Kinderman

Photo by G. Kinderman

The Cone is not a very large space, about enough room for an adult to stand in, if he is crouching. To fit a full length bed would be a tight squeeze, but that’s just what one of the McChesney’s did. The Sharps remember Jim Walker as the name of the man who lived in the Cone, while Freddie says it might have been Jim Walker, or it might have been Forest’s brother Eliot. Freddie delivered firewood to the McChesneys, one time he was invited to look inside the Cone when it had been converted as a small home. “It had a little table and enough for a bed and a little stand in there. I mean, it was so small, he didn’t eat in it. You come around a little road between them, and he’d just walk over there to his brother’s house and eat.”

Within a few years, the Cone changed locations yet again, this time up to Elk Mountain, where it stands today. “It must have been about the time I got married. I got married in ’69, and I remember dad coming home telling about Henry bought that old Tepee. And my mother said, “well what in the world’s he gonna do with that thing?” remembers Freda Hefner.

“All I can tell you is in the mid 70s Henry bought that thing, the tepee up on elk, but I don’t know who he bought it from,” remembers Mike Hefner, Henry Hefner’s nephew.

“That’s the mystery. It’s been there ever since,” says Mike.

“I always remember it as the same color it is now, sort of a dull pink,” says Freda. “And Greg Griffith, the one that bought it off the estate, one day we were all talking about the tepee and he looked at me and said something about moving it or painting it or something. I looked at him, I said, ‘you can’t move it. It’s a landmark. Everybody stops and looks at this and wants to know what it’s all about.’ He said, ‘well I need to paint it.’”

“I said, ‘well paint it the same color you did.’ He said, ‘I don’t know how to get that color.'”

“I said, ‘Well why not?””

“He said, ‘we just threw several buckets of paint, threw it all together, and this is the color we came up with.'”

photo by G. Kinderman

photo by G. Kinderman

Many have wondered exactly why did Henry Hefner buy the Pink Cone. It seems this was a whim of Henry’s one night, and nobody is sure just what he imagined at the time. “Well Uncle Henry was known as a drinking person. He went out one day, and he was a little tipsy and he bought that thing, drug it up there,” says Mike Hefner. “But since he got it fixed up, it’s been a landmark ever since. I guess he knew what he was doing, because everybody talks about it. About all you ever hear about is the tepee anymore.”

Well it looks like there are as many stories about the Pink Cone as there are people who remember it. But it doesn’t really matter who’s right. What matters is enjoying it’s uniqueness and iconic status as you travel along US 219 in West Virginia.

Thank you to everyone we interviewed for this story, including: Robert Sharp, Keith Moore, Alice McClure Rogers, Karen Sharp, Mike Hefner, Freda Hefner, and Jaynell Graham. What do you remember about the Pink Cone?







Category: Blog, Elkins to Marlinton, Stories & Legends

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