He Saw Her Reflection First: A Love Story dedicated to the memory of George Swecker, tells the story of George and his wife Caroline growing up in Valley Head and finding love.
Drive 42 miles south of Valley Head on U.S. Route 219 to Hillsboro and find the Pretty Penny Cafe , There, you can order a sandwich or soup named for the characters in this story, as Blair Campbell, the owner of the cafe, grew up in Valley Head.
Most families in the town of Valley Head were rooted to the timber. Logs fell during the day and the town really came to life at night. George Swecker, whose childhood home doubled as the town doctor’s office years ago, recalls men coming in with “their entrails in their hands,” wounded from a rough night out in town. As he puts it, “it was just like the wild west.”
Roots in Timber
Timber was first cut in Valley Head in the early 1900s. The West Virginia Writers’ Project describes the imprint of logging on the surrounding mountains:
“On the nearer slopes of wooded mountainsides and deep valleys (L), the scars left by old logging operations appear in the long perpendicular furrows down which lumbermen once sent felled trees. Where heavy second growth timber has grown up to the edge of the furrows, the hillsides from a distance appear to have been combed by a giant rake.” (pg 387)
219: Child’s Perspective: talking to children currently living in Valley Head.
These interviews were collected by West Virginia AmeriCorps Volunteers Megan Ramsey, Marlyn Mcclendon, Kari June, Megan Moriarty, Emily Newton and Roxy Todd. They serve at different non-profits throughout the state, but came together under the Mountain State Leaders program to collect interviews documenting the child’s perspective on living in Appalachia. The group plans to interview more young students as the project develops.
Valley head is also a close drive to these historic sites:
- 7 m. Kumbrabow State Forest (CCC cabins available for rent),
- 32 m. Historic Elkins
- 33 m. Graceland Inn
- 32 m. Randolph County Community Arts Center (located in an old Catholic Church)
- 22 m. The Tygart Valley Homestead, in Dailey, (one of Eleanor Roosevelt’s resettlement projects)
For more travel information, visit the Randolph County Convention and Visitors Bureau in Elkins (1-800-225-5982).