The middle of somewhere

LOST RIVER, W.Va. – The tale of the enigmatic vanishing of a flowing river that seemingly disappears underground only to reappear elsewhere is the stuff that holds visitors or children spellbound as the tale of subterranean passages explain away the naming of this town.

Lost River is one of four unincorporated towns along West Virginia state route 259 that attracted America’s frontier families for its rich resources; surveyed by 16-year-old George Washington, this area has never had much population, never had the commerce to keep enough people here long enough to make it boom, but just long enough to make it stick with tourists.

Today, it attracts them in droves from Washington, D.C., and is considered a destination point for gay travelers. The population is still small, and career opportunities are limited. And like the river that vanishes and then reappears as part of a larger, more important river, its pattern is very much like the pattern of the lives of people living in Middle America.

Earlier this year, Bill Kristol, editor at large at the Weekly Standard, tweeted ahead of the Super Bowl that it was too bad two Acela Corridor teams, the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles, had to play their matchup “in the middle of nowhere.”

It was a reference to the host city of Minneapolis’ location in the Midwest, far from the “civilized worlds” of Boston and Philadelphia – the assumption being that unless you are on the East Coast, your town’s sophistication and glamour could not live up to the modern amenities of a cosmopolitan city.

In my estimation, there is no patch of geography in this country that is the “middle of nowhere.” This is America; everywhere is the middle of somewhere.

Whether it is Tightwad, Mo., Mooresville, Ala., Hyder, Alaska, Oatman, Ariz., or right here in Lost River, W.Va., every place, large or small, depressed or thriving, or down to one mailbox on one lonely road, is somewhere.

We are all equals; we all contribute to the culture, diversity, dialect, and importance of this country. We build things, we serve in our communities, we serve in our military, we create families, businesses, and technology no matter where we are – we find a way to make each village and town and city a unique snapshot of this country.

Read the full piece HERE.

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