Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Losing Local History

Last week, two century-old landmarks burned in Pocahontas County. The much-photographed Historic Marlinton depot burns shared front-page billing with Sunday fire chars Bethel United Methodist Church.

The Marlinton Depot housed the Pocahontas County Visitors' Bureau (not my favorite organization), but it was nicely-restored, and The Pocahontas Times sold depot photographs through its website. The church was still in year-round use.

Winter fires seem to be a common hazard in Pocahontas County. There's been at least one fatal house fire in Marlinton this year, and I know several people who have lost their homes to fire. We had a bit of wood-stove excitement earlier this week in our little house, built around the same time as the lamented depot and the Bethel Church.

The chimney hadn't been drawing well for several days, so when it finally stopped raining, we tried cleaning the flue and restoking the fire to see how it worked. Soon there was enough smoke leaking out of the flue to suggest a fire in the wall, which is how we came to take the chainsaw to the outside of the house, and also to carry the wood stove out to the porch. It sounds drastic, but this is a much smaller hole than the fire department would have made, and the cat did enjoy sitting next to the nice warm stove while reclining on the porch.

Here's a look at the original tarpaper exterior of the house. These tarpaper "bricks" were eventually covered over with vinyl siding. Tastes in faux surfaces change, I guess.

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