Stories From Looneyville
Looneyville, WV aka Paradise
Looneyville...yes, it really is a real place in the gorgeous hills of West Virginia! It was my home for awhile and I wanted to share it with you.
It's a place most people have never heard of and probably will never visit. There are no Wal-Marts or grocery stores or restaurants. Just simple people living simple, happy lives.
I hope you enjoy my stories from Looneyville. There are so many and I will add more along the way. It was heaven on earth while it lasted...and I sometimes wonder if the whole thing was a dream. But it wasn't a dream...it was our life. The end is sad, but I hope you will enjoy reading about our experiences there and the blessings we took away with us.
Looneyville on the Map
Looneyville 25259 - Appalachian Folklore
Barn Beams and Cabin Dreams
The first time I ever drove up this driveway, I just knew I'd live in the cabin we found just over the hill. The realtor barely had us in the front door when I looked at my husband and said "I want this place".
Looking back, I'm not sure what drew me to it. It was an empty shell of a place and was lacking modern comforts. But when you walked in the front door, all you could smell was the pleasant scent of wood that came from the old barn beams that formed the house's frame...beams that had been cut down and hand hewn in the late 1700's. The ambiance of the place was magical....I'll never forget the powerful first impression it had on us!
We made an offer over the phone that evening and the owner accepted it right away. It was so easy, it had to be destiny!
Our Dream: A Cabin in the Woods
Our dream cabin was found out on a scenic West Virginia ridge. It's rustic features were an immediate draw for us and we fell in love very quickly!
The house was heated with wood and the water supply came from a natural spring located way down the hill and pumped up to the house. Crayfish made their home in our spring and would fill the holes where the water trickled in with mud, so we had to hike to the spring to clear out the holes several times a year. During the winter, we had to trickle the water faucets 24 hours a day so the lines from the spring to the house wouldn't freeze!
Creating a Home
We made so many amazing memories in our cabin on the ridge. We made it a comfortable home for our young family. We quickly installed a modern kitchen, being careful to choose materials that would not compete with the rustic feeling of the home. We insulated and dry walled, re-set the rough floor boards, remodeled the bathroom, added a small main floor bedroom, built front and back decks and painted...a lot.
The cabin quickly became a beautiful home and we loved everything about it. We heated the 2 story structure solely with our old faithful woodstove. We cut and chopped wood from our 22 acres and had a never-ending supply of fuel. Some of our fondest memories are chopping wood piles, loading them into the pickup and then stacking it in beautiful piles along the side of the house. The kids loved helping with chores like this and it gave us a sense of pride to know that we were providing for them with our own hands and hard work.
A Peaceful Place - Away From The World
We came to really appreciate the peace and privacy we had out on our property. Our nearest neighbors were quite a bit down the road in either direction.
We lived outdoors as much as in. Our favorite "living spaces" were the front and back porches! You would frequently find us eating at our outdoor table, playing games on the deck or curled up reading books in our rocking chairs.
What a wonderful feeling to be so content and peaceful!
This home was becoming more than just a place to live...it was becoming part of us. It was in our blood and helped to define who we were. We had never been so happy.
A Baby Came Along
When we moved in, we were a "perfect" family of 4...Mom, Dad, and 2 kids, one boy and one girl. But shortly after moving in, we found out we were expecting #3 and I couldn't have been more ecstatic. We added a precious boy to the family, born on a beautiful spring day at a small town hospital about 30 minutes from the cabin.
We brought him home and he just fit right in. The older kids doted on him and we thought we couldn't possibly be any more blessed.
A Foray into Self-Sufficiency
We decided to attempt to be a little more self-sufficient, so we invested in some baby chicks. The day they arrived in their tiny little box was an exciting day indeed! The children were so excited!
The babies lived in a large bird cage inside our house under a heat lamp for a couple of weeks, but a chicken coop was built outside and they were moved when they became too disgusting to be inside anymore. The kids loved taking care of them and waiting for those first eggs was excruciating and a real practice in patience!
Finally, several long months later, they started laying! We were doing it right! I can't describe the feeling of satisfaction that comes with collecting eggs from your own flock and making gorgeous omelets for dinner. Absolute heaven!
Images of America, Roane County, WV - Read more about Looneyville and the rest of Roane County
A Garden of Our Own
We also put in a tiered garden in the only sunny spot on our property. We got some amazing veggies from our little plot and were so proud to bring in our small harvest every few days.
We quickly discovered that being "self-sufficient" would require a much larger garden plot!
Baby #4 Arrives
This little guy was born in our cabin in the middle of December. My midwife drove an hour to get to us and he arrived in the middle of a very cold night. After he was born, we snuggled by the woodstove in a chair for 3 days so I could keep him warm. He was such a happy, quiet baby...and still is to this day. The home birth was an amazing experience...one we will all treasure for a lifetime.
A week after he was born, we had a huge snowstorm that knocked out electricity to our area for 10 days! Our woodstove saved our lives. We cooked on it, made coffee in our percolator, melted snow on it for wash water and for filling the back of the toilet so we could flush it. The stove kept us warm and fed and clean during a very difficult time.
I still can't believe how tiny the baby was during that time. I was hauling wood and large pots of water and I had just had a baby...crazy! We finally got our electricity restored on Christmas Day...it was the best gift ever!
Life Takes Us Away...
Life has a way of determining its own path. Ours took us away from our cabin in the woods a few short months after our winter survival incidence. My husband got a job that was too far away to commute, so we had to move to a new home and a new town. But we continued to go to the cabin on the weekends...we just couldn't stay away. It drew us back, time and time again.
There was truly no place on Earth we would have rather been...
The Saddest End...
One weekend when we were visiting the cabin, we lit a fire in the woodstove like we always had. We put a pizza in the oven and settled in to watch football. Suddenly, the electricity went out and we went to investigate.
When I walked by the woodstove, I noticed something wasn't right...
There was a glow up inside the chimney wall...FIRE!
I quickly got the children out of the cabin while my husband rescued a few valuables we still had there. We drove to the nearest neighbor and called 911. I left the kids there and went back to make sure my husband was safe. He was in the yard, watching flames shooting from the roof. It seemed like a lifetime before the fire trucks arrived.
I don't know how they got down the dirt lane or into our driveway, but they managed. They fought the flames for almost 3 hours. Several of our neighbors came to see the commotion. We were in shock...
The house had a metal roof. Combined with the thick, hard wood beams, the roof kept the fire contained and burned slowly, but was also very difficult to extinguish. The fire chief said a modern home would have been completely gone in less than 30 minutes, but from the outside of our cabin, you could barely tell there had been a fire.
The inside, on the other hand, was destroyed. Fire, smoke and water damage combined to create an almost total loss. I cry as I write this...it was devastating.
Blessings From the Ashes
We left that place that night knowing that our time on the ridge had come to an end. It was time for us to move on, but the memories of our time there will always remain. I'm so thankful that it was a time in my life when I took a lot of photos.
In the days that followed, I realized that we had been protected in so many ways. The fire was in the upper floor where the children slept. If we had still been living there, it could have started during the night and we may not have discovered it until it was too late. For some reason, the smoke detector never sounded...it could have been so much more tragic than it was.
On a lesser note, we didn't lose many belongings since we had already moved to a new home. There were still a few things left behind, but only a few were ruined...not a single thing that was important.
And the kindness of our back road neighbors and the volunteer firefighters during the fire and in the weeks that followed was extraordinary. Country folks are truly the best people on the planet. We were so blessed to know them and to have them in our lives.
Our family was safe and we moved on...the cabin was sold for the price of the land it sat on and will never be lived in again.
Looneyville was a beautiful chapter in our lives...one we wish would have lasted forever. But blessings come in all forms and we will always carry that place with us...