Chimney swifts have something special that other songbirds don’t: they roost in large numbers—a thousand or more at a time if they can find the right place. And Shepherdstown has the right place; or at least it has for a long time. In fact, Shepherdstown currently hosts the largest chimney swift roost in West Virginia. Read the Full Story >>
Amy Mathews Amosis a regular contributor to The Observer. She covers the environment, history, health, and culture. Follow her at @AmyMatAm.
A Walk Through Living History in Jefferson County
I met Mr. Washington about a week after Independence Day. Walter Washington, that is, not George. And the year was 2016 not 1776. But it was an odd feeling nonetheless; a brush with the closest thing that America has to a royal family Read the Full Story >>
Birthplace of Rivers—West Virginia’s First National Monument?
We arrived just in time to see Roy Moose handling the timber rattlesnake. On a long, hooked pole, the rattler slithered up slowly towards Moose’s arms. Whenever he got too close, Moose skillfully shifted the balance back down towards the pole’s far end, and the snake slipped towards the hook, both ends—fangs and rattle—dangling uselessly in the air. Read the Full Story >>
Katie Spriggs remembers the first time she sheltered a sex-trafficked victim at the Shenandoah Women’s Center in Martinsburg—or rather, the first time she knew that the woman seeking refuge had been trafficked. Read the Full Story >>
Anatomy of a Bike Path
Aurora’s letter was short and to the point. In the winter of 2013, she was a nine-year-old student living in Colonial Hills, just outside of Shepherdstown and across busy Route 480 from Morgan’s Grove Park. Her town leaders were applying for a grant from the West Virginia Division of Highways (DOH) to build a half-mile pedestrian and bicycling path along 480 from the park to Lowe Drive, where it would approach an existing walkway into town. And those leaders needed letters of support from the community. So Aurora shared her story. Read the Full Story >>
The Elk River Spill Two Years Later
The buzzword about Congress these days is gridlock: the left and right are too far apart to get anything done, and compromise (at least among some) is now a dirty word. Yet in December, the U.S. Senate passed a major overhaul of one of America’s most outdated environmental and public health laws, the Toxic Substances Control Act. This follows House passage of a separate reform bill in June. No one can claim that the chemical spill in Charleston’s Elk River two years ago last month triggered reform. But surely, a public health disaster of such magnitude couldn’t go unnoticed, even in the tone-deaf halls of Congress. Read the Full Story >>