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Warther Museum is must-see for carvers, steam engine buffs

August 8, 2009
By Wayne Sheets, Contributing Business Writer

The only distinguishing feature of the small red brick building is the sign over the entrance welcoming its visitors to the "Warther Museum." Located little more than a stone's throw to the east of I-77 in Dover, Ohio, the museum houses the most spectacular carving display of the 20th century those of Ernest "Mooney" Warther. His carvings in ebony, burled walnut and ivory have been appraised by the Smithsonian as "priceless works of art."

The carvings of Warther, as he was better known in and around Dover, include a working model of the steel mill where he worked for 23 years, the history of the steam engine beginning with Hero's Engine of 250 BC and ending with the Union Pacific Big Boy Locomotive of 1941. It also includes the Plier Tree with 511 working pairs of pliers from a single block of wood. The project required 31,000 cuts and took from June 24 to Aug. 28, 1913, to make. Not a single scrap of shaving was cut away from the original block of black walnut, and when each of the sets of pliers is opened, they form a tree.

His best-liked steam engine carving was that of The Great Northern Mountain-type locomotive designed and built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1930. It took seven months to carve and is made of 7,752 pieces. The scale model 1/2 inch to 1 inch is so exact that Baldwin design engineers could find not a single deviation from the original.

Another of his favorites, as well as that of those who visit the museum, is the model of President Abraham Lincoln's funeral train. Mooney was a great admirer of Lincoln and completed the model on April 14, 1965 the 100th anniversary of Lincoln's assassination.

My personal favorite is that of the Empire State Express, an 8-foot ivory train on a stone arch bridge. Each stone is carved of ebony and the mortar is inlaid ivory.

Warther couldn't find carving knives to suit him so he made his own knives and blades. By the time he had to give up carving, he had three or four knives with 180 interchangeable blades. This eventually led to his cutlery, which is still being made by Mooney's descendents. Their factory is located at and attached to the back of the museum.

The museum is a must-see for steam engine admirers and those who appreciate the art of carving. It can be described in only one way: magnificent. If you are ever passing through Dover, Ohio, it will be well worth your time to stop at the Warther Museum to see Mooney's magnificent work.

The little community along Wilson Lane is becoming one of the more diverse in Elkins. Last week I mentioned the beautiful community of homes that Lloyd and Sharon Teter are building in the area for those age 55 and older. After she read the story, Kate Somers called and told me about Highland Meadows. She gave me a tour of the homes on Thursday and they are beautiful.

According to Somers, she and her builders, Highland Community Builders, with Jay Judy as construction manager, are presenting a new neighborhood offering quality homes at moderate prices. "The development," Somers said, "is envisioned to be one that will fill the need for homes in the $120,000 to $170,000 range. Those who are first-time homebuyers may be eligible to take advantage of the $8,000 tax credit that the government is offering until Dec. 1 of this year.

"The Highland Meadows development is good for Elkins," Somers continued. "It is providing families with quality homes where they will not have the burden of high utility costs or major renovations. It is providing a source of business for local contractors and related businesses and it is providing a new revenue source for the city of Elkins."

Somers said that they have 42 quarter-acre home sites priced at less than $30,000. They are located on 14 acres of landscaped grounds with a "green way" that connects to the Tygart Valley Mall, buried utilities and paved streets.

"The home sites are available to anyone," Somers said, "with no restrictions regarding income or any other factor. Folks may also purchase a home site and build to suit their tastes and needs using their own contractor. We will accept modular homes but not doublewides. All home sites in Highland Meadows are ready for construction with all necessary infrastructure and utilities in place."

Office hours at Highland Meadows are Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to noon; Wednesdays from noon to 2 p.m.; Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.; and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Special appointments may be arranged to visit the model homes by calling 304-940-2506.

The development offers a great opportunity for young couples starting out in life to purchase a quality, affordable home where their monthly payments go into an investment instead of rent. These homes are quality built at a location that provides a scenic vista of the mountains.

A reader sent me an e-mail this week about a scam that is being perpetrated against customers in businesses that accept credit/debit cards with a high-traffic volume. It appears that cashiers in some places are triggering the "cash back" feature indicating that a customer has asked for cash when in fact they haven't. Most people, always in a hurry, don't pay very close attention to the receipt and walk off not noticing that they have been charged with a "cash back" amount that is pocketed by the cashier when they "cash out" at the end of their stint at the register.

Investigators are also finding that cashiers will work with friends who follow a potential victim through the checkout line and if the victim does not catch the "mistake," the cashier hands the money to his/her friend.

Incidents of this nature have been reported in Houston, Texas, Milford, Del., and North Salisbury, Md.

While it may not be happening in our neighborhood, it could. A word to the wise.

The American Mountain Theater will perform at the West Virginia State Fair this year. On Aug. 18 at 5:30 p.m., the cast and crew will make their first appearance on the fair's performance roster.

They will be appearing with other high-profile performers such as Kenny Rogers, "American Idol" winner David Cook, The Temptations, Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, Christian music artist Sandy Patty and country stars Darius Rucker and Gary Allen.

In a press release announcing the good news, State Fair Manager Marlene Pierson-Jolliffee said, "We are fortunate that we were able to partner with the American Mountain Theater, and I am excited about giving them exposure to a new audience, who will have the opportunity to see what they do in Elkins. For the type of people who attend the state fair, AMT is the kind of entertainment we like to have because we know they will provide great audience appeal."

AMT President and Producer Kenny Sexton said, "We are honored by all this great publicity, and humbled by the popularity and success we have achieved after only two years in operation. Not only are we delighted to be invited to sing at the state fair, we think it will go a long way toward promoting the theater in Elkins."



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