About two weeks ago I was traveling back to Harrisburg from Columbus, Ohio along interstate route 70. Before leaving Ohio behind, I stopped for lunch at the Panera in the Ohio Valley Mall. While surfing the net and eating I discovered some images from the Mount Wood Overlook in nearby Wheeling, West Virginia. Always on the look out for photo op’s I decided to stop off in Wheeling to explore this site. After all it was on the way and only about 10 miles from the Panera.
Getting into Wheeling was simple enough. It was the first exit, 1A, after crossing the Ohio River on the Fort Henry Bridge. After the exit it was two left hand turns onto Market Street, one mile and then a left onto Mt. Wood Road. Somehow I managed to miss the “y” in Market Street and I found myself headed the wrong way onto an exit ramp for Rt 70 west. Luckily there was a road crew painting some new lines and they stopped me before I got into a collision. I had to back up rather then just pull a u-turn because the road crew didn’t want me screwing up their fresh paint job. Okay….whatever…!
After re-circling the block I made it onto Market Street and then Mt. Wood Road and I arrived at the Mount Wood Overlook. To my surprise there was an old cemetery named, Mount Wood Cemetery, of course, located directly across the street. Great I thought… I’ll shoot at the overlook and then head into the cemetery. The view actually looked better from the top of the cemetery.
At first glance, from the bottom of the parking lot, the overlook appears to be just a series of concrete slabs with short walls set in the top of the hill. After you approach it though you realize that it looks like the beginning of some sort of castle construction or military fortification that was never completed. It has several flights of stairs, including a curved stair down through one of two bastions located at the southern end. The structure is covered with graffiti of all shapes, sizes and colors. It was a very interesting place to photograph.
After spending an hour at the overlook I decided to venture across the street into the Mount Wood Cemetery. The cemetery gate was open and it did not appear that anyone was inside.
The Mount Wood Cemetery is a very old cemetery located on the side of the mountain above Wheeling. With out a doubt, it has suffered much neglect and vandalism through the ages. Many of the grave stones have been toppled over or are leaning very precariously. None of the mausoleums that I saw had any of their original doors or windows. They were all blocked up solid with bricks and mortar. One of the mausoleums even appeared to have an sizable hole in it’s roof. Aside from the grass being mowed it did not appear that there was any sort of maintenance being performed at all.
Unfortunately, I did not get to spend very much time photographing in the cemetery. While I was setting my tri-pod up for my next shot, a toothless man and his hairy legged girlfriend/wife approached me from behind. The guy launched off into a curse word laced tirade about how I wasn’t supposed to be in there knocking over gravestones and vandalizing the property and such. Really….??? I was standing there behind my tripod and camera. Was the guy blind as well as stupid..? This tirade went on for about 5 minutes. At some point the guy indicated that he was the “Caretaker” and that he was throwing me out. At this point the hairy legged girlfriend/wife in a dirty lime green and pink dress pulls out her cell phone and proceeds to announce that she is calling the police. Well…that’s all folks…!! There was no way I was sticking around to meet the Wheeling, West Virginia Police in the Mount Wood Cemetery. I grabbed up my camera and high-tailed it back to my car. Thankfully I made it out of Wheeling without seeing any police or hearing any sirens.
I did not manage to get any photos of the “Caretaker” and his escort. I was in too big a hurry to get out before the police arrived. As a final note to this blog, I was just contacted by my camera club friend, Tom and we have scheduled a return to Mount Wood trip for the day after Thanksgiving. This time I will have reinforcements. Stay tuned….
As always, your comments are welcomed.