FAYETTEVILLE, WV (WVNS) — West Virginia is rich in natural beauty and resources, from the coal that gave birth to the American workers’ rights movement to the New River Gorge, carved by the continent’s oldest river.
Four friends, Nikolai Derek of Pennsylvania, Guy Moore, Jr., of New Jersey, Mel O’Callaghan of County Kerry, Ireland, and Callum Creak of Weston-super-Mare, United Kingdom arrived in Beckley on Sunday, August 21, 2022, to start a cross-country trip.
“A lot of us had been talking about the idea of traveling and then at the last minute all the pieces just fell together,” said Derek.
The four friends booked a house in Beckley as their first stop.
“We were very fortunate to find a wonderful home that really opened our eyes to the beauty of West Virginia, as well as just the uniqueness of Frank Lloyd Wright,” said Derek.
Bias said he enjoys sharing his home with people from around the globe.
“I guess the comment I get most is, it’s like living in art,” said Bias.
The visitors made a stop at Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine, where they toured an underground mine and a model “coal camp.”
“We weren’t expected to do that, but it was a real eye-opener, very interesting,” said O’Callaghan.
Creak said that learning the working conditions of miners made an impact on him.
“It’s crazy, the working conditions back then,” he noted, referencing conditions prior to the formation of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA).
Of the four friends, only Derek has seen the New River Gorge. He said he saw it once when he was seven years old.
The men visited the Overlook in Lansing, which gives a view of the New River Gorge and the New River Gorge Bridge, the longest single-span steel arch bridge in the United States.
“When I was walking down, I didn’t really get the whole view and then when I got to the bottom it was breathtaking,” said Moore.
O’Callaghan had an immediate impression.
“It looks like an image you’d see on a laptop,” he said.
“Crazy, said Creak. “It’s just beautiful to look at. I could just sit and look at it, all day.”
Derek said that seeing the Gorge after around 15 years was “magical” and that he looks forward to more special experiences on the cross-country trip.