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Hidden Gems Inside Appalachia

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Claire Hemme
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Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory

On this episode of Inside Appalachia, we go on a road trip along the backroads of Appalachia. We discover a rare orchid, a natural icebox and even get the story behind a bus on a rock. 

It's all to help launch a new series called Hidden Gems of Appalachia, celebrating the outdoors and the stories behind mysterious and wondrous places throughout these mountains.

Ice Mountain

This week we are telling the story of one of West Virginia’s most interesting environmental mysteries. Ice Mountain is a ridge line that contains vents with ice inside them, even in the heat of Summer! Historical records and Roxy Todd take you inside the story of this wild treasure.

Rare Orchids

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Credit Claire Hemme
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Roxy Todd found a rare orchid somewhere in Pocahontas County. The location is "super-secret" to protect the plant.

You probably don’t think about discovering new species very often. Especially not in your own back yard. A couple of men of science developed a deep love for orchid hunting a few years back, which ended up leading to them finding a whole new species of orchid in West Virginia! Listen as they describe the natural beauty of the flowers and what a thrill it is to find them.

Bus on a Rock

If you’ve ever driven along US 60 in West Virginia, just passed the town of Gauley Bridge, you may have looked out your window and seen a home sitting on a rock in the middle of the river. To discover the story behind this mystery, back in 2005 Anna Sale and producer Russ Barbour traveled by boat to a tiny island in the Kanawha River.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQrka1gL-J8&feature=youtu.be

Peach Tree Falls

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Peach Tree Falls

County road 3 isn’t the world’s most inviting drive, but along it you can find some pretty amazing places. Peach tree falls is a local secret that people come from all over the world to discover. Most of the locals don’t even know about it. But there’s no question as to why people try so hard to find it. The serenity of the location and pounding falls take you to a completely different level of relaxation. Be careful not to find the false falls though, most people who do never get to experience the luxurious comfort of the real one.

Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory

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Credit Claire Hemme
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A trail at Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory

Right on the cusp of where West Virginia and Virginia meet you will find the Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory. This small building atop the world was formerly a fire tower that was repurposed as a birding observatory. The short trail leads you through a glowing forest to the top of the ridge where you’ll find yourself surrounded by a crown of mountains. This hidden gem is truly one of West Virginia’s finest.

Birding in West Virginia

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Katie Fallon, a professor at West Virginia Wesleyan College and board member of the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia, has created several literary works about rare birds. She has written a few books on her own and with others to help people understand more about birding. Her latest book Look, See the Bird, is an illustrated children's book about helping children discover their connection to the natural world. 

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The Struggle to Stay

Over the past few weeks, we’ve watched Crystal Snyder battle her way through classes, unemployment and agricultural training. But no one can prepare a mother to watch her child leave. Find out more this week.
Music in this episode was provided by Kaia Kater, Marisa Anderson and Ben Townsend

Inside Appalachia is produced by Jessica Lilly and Roxy ToddGlynis Board edited this episode. Our executive producer is Jesse Wright.Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens. Claire Hemme helped with our digital correspondence. You can find us online on Twitter @InAppalachia

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Jessica can be heard on Inside Appalachia and West Virginia Morning the station’s daily radio news program. You can reach her at jlilly@wvpublic.org
Roxy Todd is a reporter and producer for Inside Appalachia and has been a reporter for West Virginia Public Broadcasting since 2014. She’s won several awards, including a regional AP Award for best feature radio story, and also two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. You can reach her at rtodd@wvpublic.org.