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Lake recreation in Braxton/Lewis make for memorable opportunities

August 6, 2011
By Shannon Bennett Campbell , The Inter-Mountain

Daylight time is already getting shorter and we are moving toward summer's end, school's beginning, continuing hot weather, and less patience for things that push our buttons. In fact, someone might say "Go jump in a lake."

Smart people would take that order and go to I-79's mile-marker 75 where they could choose one of four beautiful water venues to have a Mountain State Mini (a three-day Wild, Wonderful West Virginia vacation), and show the bullies they got the best of them. Central West Virginia awaits with Lewis and Braxton counties providing all the lake recreation needed to make late- summer and autumn a fun and memorable season.

The most Southern waterway is Sutton Lake celebrating its 50th anniversary. According to the July l5, 2011, Charleston Gazette, "fourteen miles of cool, clear, mountain-shaded waters and 40 miles of shoreline have provided 500,000 people swimming, boating, and fishing annually. Because of needed flood control on the Elk River. The Army Corps of Engineers completed the Sutton Dam in 1960 and its recreational uses are numerous. Marina inquiries should be made to 304-765-2120 or

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Photo by Shannon Bennett Campbell
The Jubilee at Jackson’s Mill Labor Day Weekend, Sept. 2-4, offers its usual outstanding food selections, more than 90 craft booths, continuous old-time music, bluegrass concerts, quilt and photography shows, and Civil War re-enactors. This annual celebration brings people from throughout the Eastern Seaboard to America’s beautiful and historical first state 4-H Camp.

A primary sport there is fishing where bass and carp are both good bets in August, according to a Braxton County native who spends lots of time casting his reel in this area. At the end of the day, his wife expects equal attention and he heads for Sutton's Cafe Cimino, always full of fine-dining fans. Chef Eli will produce some succulent meals and provide a wonderful eating experience. No joke. People travel from very far-away places just to eat in this old, Main Street Victorian brick home. Reservations should be made at 1-877-924-6466. If some Starbuck's coffee, a sandwich or a salad is on your mind, a good choice would be Town Square Cafe and Restaurant on Sutton's Fourth Street. As an added attraction, they have arts and crafts plus supplies to make them.

The Flatwoods Days Inn and Conference Center (1-800-700-7284) is a good pick for anchoring your luggage and navigating around this area. Great breakfast buffets get the day started well and prices are affordable. If a camping trailer is involved, KOA Campground is directly behind with 50 spaces. And, don't be bashful about trying one of the 24 custard selections at the Custard Stand just below that also offers excellent hot dogs with special sauce that is available by the gallon.

Another well-known lake is 20 miles away near Burnsville and attracts both swimmers and those who like to cast their rods. Catfish are a big commodity here. There are supposed to be some " Muddy Bottom Monsters" according to area fishing experts. Trout are stocked in the tailwaters. A Little Kanawha River earthen dam holds Burnsville Lake's summer pool through September and there are at least two busy campgrounds offering 258 campsites with electrical hook-ups. More information can be obtained by calling 304-853- 2371.

While in Braxton County, another worthy excursion would be to the Flatwoods Outlet Mall where one can not only fill-up on good food, but get discount prices on a large variety of merchandise. Shop owners are very friendly and courteous and free parking near the shops make an enjoyable time for everyone in the family. Having always been fascinated with Amish Culture, I try to visit the Bulk Food Store three or four times a year where I stock up on unusual foods. It is a special resting place for Charleston trips beside I-79 and always reminds me of rural roots. An hour from Elkins, this is a great Sunday afternoon visit, too.

Back toward Lewis County and only 10 miles out of Weston, is the magnificent Stonewall Jackson State Park where Adirondack-style chairs await weary travellers in their lodge, and hospitality reigns. Overlooking a tremendous water complex, those who like boating will be thrilled with the options they have for taking the waves. Likewise, fishing trips can be vaired and, reportedly, Stonewall Lake has the largest supply of fish right now of area lakes with largemouth bass and 50-inch muskies most popular catches. Campsites, cabins, as well as lodge rooms are overnight options. Call 1-888-278-8150 or for more information.

Dining is elegant, yet, down-homey here with a featured Appalachian cuisine in Stillwaters, their main dining facility. Soup, sandwich, salad, with limited dinner entrees are other options at Lightburn's, the golf course's eatery. Buffets are always available and particularly nice for brunch or a family get-together. Normally, reservations are not needed as the dining rooms are expansive and decks overlooking the water also utilized.

If a day-visit is possible, just walking through the park grounds will be an interesting experience. Deer are plentiful, woodsy surroundings keep things cool, and distant meadows and waters allow for mental relaxation and reflection. One will get an idea of what it means to be privileged while enjoying one of our state's prettiest park areas. And, if you have time for a visit to their Mountain Laural Spa, skin care, facials, massages, hair styling and manicures/pedicures are available. Appointments can be made at the number already listed.

Only a short distance away from this attraction is another local favorite, Stonecoal Lake, where muskie, bass and trout cruise waters. Off Corridor H at Georgetown Road exit, a short drive will get one to the boat ramp located just below Jerry's Sporting Goods Store, and anglers can try their luck. This is a popular lake because of its access, and smaller boats are the norm. It is well-stocked each year as the Stonecoal Fishing Club has a "Kids Tournament" and special fish purchases are made for them to test their skills.

An important note to all who head to these areas for fishing excitement is that each lake does have some rules that they expect to be followed. One wants to get some information about these before the worm leaves the bucket. I want my readers to get hooked on fishing, not by the local law enforcement officials.

Since I am also taking some vacation this month, this will be a wrap for August's "Mini" report. I conclude by hoping you will be able to visit Jackson's Mill (Lewis County) for the Annual Jubilee event Labor Day Weekend. Ticket prices have been lowered to $4. The food, fun, and fascination with crafts - 90 booths this year - is second only to the wonderful old-time tunes one will hear on the banjo or fiddle. Take in the lakes, the fine foods, the shopping, and the Jubilee. Central West Virginia will leave a fine taste in your mouth and lift your spirits.

If you are among the workforce, on Labor Day be thankful for a paycheck each month and keep interested in government and how well it serves. We were established as a democracy to stem from our people's choices. But, if we do not take the responsibility to make those choices, democracy does not work. Being informed and having knowledge are keys to forming good decisions. Contemplate while lying on a float in the sun. Then, fall off into the cold water, get energized, and do something to move your community, state, or nation forward. In the words of John Kennedy, "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."

Shannon Bennett Campbell is a free-lance writer and photographer and is completing post-doctoral studies at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.



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