This June, West Virginia will be 150 years old. I well remember the state's centennial festivities held in Charleston in 1963. President Kennedy made a brief visit. There was a large parade on Kanawha Boulevard that lasted several hours. I did not attend this event, but I did watch a good bit of it on television.
On June 15, 1963, a new attraction was born in West Virginia, now a leading symbol of the state's tourism industry - the Cass Scenic Railroad. On that day, Shay No. 1 and Shay No. 4 departed the depot at 10:30 a.m. with passengers riding in four converted flat cars for the inaugural run.
Since then, the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park has continued to preserve railroad history. On Saturday, June 15, 50 years later to the date and time, Shay No. 4 will once again haul its "tourism cargo" up Cheat Mountain to Whittaker Station to commemorate what is now an icon in the Mountain State's history.
Tickets for this Golden Anniversary run are limited to 240 passengers.
Anyone wanting to make this ride should try to purchase their tickets in advance.
Call Cass Scenic Railroad at 304-456-4300, or visit www.cassrailroad.com.
In 1963, the West Virginia Centennial Golden Rainbow Trout was stocked for the first time. This fish is a color mutation of the common rainbow trout, discovered by mere chance, and then bred for that characteristic. The Petersburg Fish Hatchery manager, Vincent Evans, noticed a yellow-mottled fingerling among the hatchery's rainbow trout in 1955. When Evans was transferred to the Spring Run Hatchery that fall, the new Petersburg manager, Chester Mace, continued to watch over this little fish. In the late fall of 1956, the "golden" was spawned with a regular rainbow trout. The eggs of this match were mixed with all of the other rainbow eggs.
In early 1957, several fingerlings were transferred from the Petersburg Hatchery to the Spring Run Hatchery. Within a few weeks, nearly 300 fingerlings had developed a true golden color.
The first goldens were smaller than the common rainbow trout, but careful breeding corrected that problem.
By 1963, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources deemed this new strain or hybrid fish was ready to be stocked. Officials from the DNR determined that one golden for every 10 rainbow would be stocked into the larger lakes and streams. This ratio is still the standard used today.
West Virginia's golden trout is unrelated to the "true golden trout" found in the streams of the California Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Basically, the West Virginia Golden Trout is a rainbow trout without any black pigment in its system.
According to Curtis I. Taylor, chief of the WVDNR Wildlife Resources Section, they need help in locating whip-poor-wills in the state. I know I haven't heard one of these nocturnal birds in years.
A good friend of mine, who passed away about six months ago, asked me in the middle '80s what has happened to all of the whip-poor-wills.
When I gave his question some thought, I was not able to come up with an answer.
If you see or hear a whip-poor-will in West Virginia between now and July 31, email DNR Wildlife Resources Section biologist Rich Bailey at email@example.com. Include the date and location. Try to be specific about whether you saw or heard the bird, and include your name, address, and phone number.
The whip-poor-will is a gray, black and brown bird with a black throat.
It is easier to hear than see. It's song is a loud and rhythmic "whip-poor-will" which it sings repeatedly at night.
This has been an unusual spring. Temperatures have been somewhat below normal until the middle of this week.
To some extent, it has been dryer than usual.