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Wheelwright, where did you go?

Updated on August 15, 2012
Miners working the mine portal in Wheelwright
Miners working the mine portal in Wheelwright

Looking at Wheelwright, than and now.

People seemed to enjoy my last BLOG on the subject of my home town. I thought I would get a little more detailed with this post. Several of Wheelwright's dilapidated buildings were once so much more. Next to the current city hall stands a block building, missing a top due to ignorance, that is now an eye sore. It sits collecting water and mildew, wasting away into nothing. That was never it's intentions though. That block disaster once was the Inland Steel bath house. That building was a shower house for the miners to clean themselves before they ventured home to their families. It also served as a place to pick up your check after a long week's work.

If you venture up a little and go to the post office and masonic lodge you will see what I would call a masterpiece of architectural design. The post office building is a beautiful piece of work, but just to the right you will see a building that is anything but pleasant to look upon. It's walls are mangled by neglect and many holes exist as the result of troubled youth. It's second floor sports a large black singed hole where a teen hiding from the law on a cold night set a fire to keep warm. (yes, he did get caught) Inside you will find beer bottles and cans and various debris. At one point this was not the contents that the building hosted. It once served home to books, and pictures. It was the Wheelwright Library that so many people in the state of Kentucky talked about. Now it is a shell awaiting demolition.

Just above that you will find the clubhouse. At one point this was the mecca of this small town. Rooms for rent that rivaled anything a 5 star hotel could accomplish. It had a fine diner that served the populace with charm and facade. In the basement was the bowling ally. That is right a bowling ally. Now that alley is caving in. It once kept patrons entertained with alluring games of bowling and good conversation. Now the only conversation is by those who sneak in and sit on make shift benches to drink beer and talk about how bad the town is. I wonder if they ever stop to think how much worse it has been made by the attitude they exhibit sitting there polluting a historical landmark.

Outside the clubhouse one can find the war memorial. Any town would be honord to have such a grateful emblem of hope. Not Wheelwright. The concrete structure is decaying at a rapid rate. Several of the brass name plates that tell the names of those who gave all for this country have been stolen, not by family members wanting to keep them safe, but by people selling the brass for profit. Several times people have tried to remove the brass back plates and do the same. The flag still flies, of course it is riddled with holes and is as dingy as a punk rocker's jeans. The black fence that shields it has become rusted and worn.

Let's go further up the road to a place called Sharp Fork, or as we all know it Hall Hollow. (Hall Holler if you are from around here) A church stands to the left of the road, slanting out toward the pavement. It was once the home of the African American church folk here. Its walls would echo stories that would touch the coldest of hearts. An amazing blind man by the name of Dunbar used to wail the piano with such expertise he would literally have made Elton John jealous. Now the foundation has crumbled. The building has slanted so much that windows have managed to pry themselves open, or simply burst under the pressure.

In the same quaint little hollow is the boarding house. It was once the clubhouse of Hall Hollow's african population. It was an inn that any person would be proud to have stayed in. Now it has a hole the size of a car in the roof. The very floor upstairs is bowed to the extent of 1 foot. It was supposed to become a halfway house but the outlook is still bleak.

I assume that by reading this you think I hate my hometown, or am shamed of it. This is not true. I love Wheelwright. I always have. I am merely expressing my concern that these historic sites have been allowed to waste away and be lost in time. Once again I encourage you to take pride in your home town.


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