Just outside of Thomas, West Virginia, a couple of miles down a little country road, you can find the remains of the old mining community of Douglas, WV. Active from 1891 to 1972, this was a company owned town and, along the road, the coke ovens used by the company can still be seen. The mined coal was loaded into numerous ovens where it was baked in a process that turned it into coke, a charcoal like substance used as fuel by the steel mills.
The whole process, as you might imagine, resulted in horrible air pollution, but the greater impact has been on the water ecosystem in the area. The acid mine drainage is still measurable in the Blackwater River watershed but efforts have come a long way toward restoring the area.
The bit of history offered by signs along the road was a nice surprise but our whole purpose of visiting Douglas was to find a couple of new waterfalls. Once the road becomes gravel, you can drive through a few pot holes to park at a wide spot in the road where you’ll find Albert Falls.
After crossing over a sketchy looking bridge, you’ll come to the parking area for Douglas Falls. A pleasant walk takes you to a gated trail and, from there, a short scramble down a rocky slope takes you to the base of the falls. It was well worth the effort. The recent rain made the falls thunderous and the resulting mist felt good on that hot summer day.
It was a pleasantly busy weekend. Visiting five different waterfalls on one short camping trip seems to be just a few steps beyond normal, but I’m ready to do it again! Chasing waterfalls is fun!