#76 Bramwell Train Depot

May 29, 2007
504 miles
When I turned on The Weather Channel this morning, they were still talking about the heavy storms in Central Texas and the big story was still the flash flooding in Comal County. This is where I just left -- New Braunfels in Comal County. According to the news, I must have had good timing in my route leaving Texas.
I left the motel in Bulls Gap, Tennessee at 9:15am and made it to the Virginia state line an hour later. In Abingdon, Virginia I turned east on a US highway and left I81 behind. After about 900 miles of freeway, I was ready to get off the super slab and take a slower pace to enjoy the country.
There's a VA Tour stop in Jewel Ridge -- I'll be looking for the local Baptist Church. I go about 60 miles on a state highway then start looking for the small road that will take me into Jewel Ridge.
Up this small road, I find Jewel Ridge. It's hard to see the elevation in this photo. But trust me this is the last little stretch of a road that switched back and forth as it climbed high to the ridge where the very small community of Jewel Ridge sits.
I am still sitting on the last turn coming into the community and balancing on a gravel incline on the side of a hill ... in a curve. Notice my hand holding the brake? And, trust me, both feet are firmly planted as I balance the bike while taking these photos.

I found the Post Office... but no Baptist Church.

I made it through all of Jewel Ridge and still no Baptist Church so I start expanding my search to the smaller roads in the area. Here's a shed with plenty of character, but still no Baptist Church.
Even though a local Appalachian mountain guy pointed me this way...he said there were several churches along this road...might find the one I'm looking for. I did find a handful of churches, but not the one I was looking to find.
...unless it's past this sign. I didn't take Fleeter any further. The state maintained roads were bad enough, I didn't want to chance it on a bike meant for smooth asphalt. I figured there was a good chance I'd have to turn around and come back the way I came. If/When that time came, it would make sense that the road would then be worse than the one we see here...even though this is the most level piece I've seen in the last 15 miles.
Notice GPS Jill is trying to tell me that this is a perfectly fine (at least paved) road all the way to the next highway-which is 5.4 miles away? (I have her programmed to keep me on paved roads.) Jill isn't perfect, but I still love her.
The very next road I tried, came to the same story at the end! I give up. The Baptist Church can just stay hid/lost for now! I've spent the last couple of hours roaming around these back roads of the Appalachian Mountains. I've seen some nice roads in the area, but I'm ready to keep moving along and see what I can find further down the road.
Back down from the mountains now, driving along US19, we see that Texas isn't the only State that promotes wild flowers.
Next goal is to find the NPS stamp in Bramwell, West Virginia. After riding about forty more miles up this valley, it's time to turn back into the mountains. This is one of those hidden gems that can easily be the highlight of any ride. Little did I know what I would find when I drove into town.
Bramwell, WV population: 426
Bramwell was built inside a bend of the Bluestone River. This gives reason to have plenty of bridges.
While exploring the small town, I ride up on this cool old bridge. It's my favorite.

This is the historic train depot where I found the "National Coal Heritage Area" stamp.
The depot has an small interpretive center well worth a few extra minutes.

Out behind the depot is a foot swing bridge. It really does "swing" when you walk across it!
While at the depot, several of the locals struck up conversation with me. We chatted for 30-40 minutes. Seems they found it interesting that I ride around on Fleeter by myself looking for interesting places. We all were glad I found Bramwell. Friendly people in Bramwell!
Even a local dog took interest. No barking, just watching.
A couple miles from Bramwell, is Pinnacle Rock State Park.
While taking photos of the Rock, I noticed a problem with a saddle bag.
I rolled Fleeter back into a shady corner of the parking lot, took my helmet and jacket off, then went go to work. After emptying the saddle bag and removing it, I saw just what the problem was -- one of the bolts had sheered off, leaving only one bolt holding the saddle bag stay to the fender.
I rigged up a temporary solution to hold it on until I could get home -- 325 miles away.
I was very tempted by the Tastee Treat, but resisted. Looks like it's going to be after 10:30pm when I get home as it is. I need to keep moving, so I took a quick shot while rolling by.
Some mountains are easier to tunnel through than go over.
Coming out the other side of the tunnel, the storm clouds were threatening enough that I pulled over and put on rain gear. The rain was heavy enough and lasted long enough that I was glad I opted for the rain gear, but nothing like what I'd seen the last couple of days.
I merged onto I81 and kept a steady pace until I exited I64, past Charlottesville, where I took the back roads the last 70 miles home -- arriving at 10:50pm.
Total trip on Fleeter: 1,635 miles (per GPS)

Stamps collected: 1

States fleetered in this trip: 8

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