The video above is courtesy of M&J Travel Adventures.
MT. NEBO, WV (WOWK) — West Virginia is nowhere near the ocean, so why is there a lighthouse in the Mountain State?
Summersville Lake Retreat & Lighthouse is located in Mt. Nebo, West Virginia, in Nicholas County. The steel tower weighs a whopping 77,000 pounds! The lighthouse is 104 feet tall, providing a 360-degree view of Summersville Lake and the Gauley Bridge National Recreation Area. Visitors can climb 122 steps to see the view via the gallery deck. The lighthouse’s rotational beacon casts a 30-mile-long beam of light.
So how did this West Virginia gem of a lighthouse come to be? Well, the idea originated from a joke about wind turbines and a convenient coincidence.
It all started when Summersville Lake Retreat owners Steve and Donna Keblesh met guest Rick Butler, who worked erecting wind towers in neighboring Greenbrier County. The Kebleshes joked to Bulter that if he had an extra turbine tower, it could be converted into a lighthouse. Coincidentally, the wind farm did have a tower to spare! It previously fell off a truck and was slightly damaged in the incident, meaning it could not be used for wind production. The Kebleshes purchased the turbine and arranged for it to be delivered.
The Summersville Lake Lighthouse would not have been possible without a community effort, according to the West Virginia Department of Tourism. Local wind farm contractors and engineers aided in the delivery and erection of the tower in 2012. The Fayette Institute of Technology and Nicholas County Career & Technical Center helped design and build the lighthouse’s lamp room, widow’s walk and steel staircase. A vintage Westinghouse rotational beacon was donated by Rader Airfield and restored by a local electrician.
On West Virginia’s 150th birthday, June 20, 2013, over 2,000 people attended the dedication and lighting ceremony for the lighthouse. The attraction continues to bring in large crowds each year.
The lighthouse is open to the public daily, from April to October, and by reservation from November to March. Weather permitting, tours are given during the day and evening, with special sunset and full-moon tours. On Independence Day, visitors can climb to the top to watch a stunning fireworks display.
Summersville Lake Retreat is a pet-friendly property that also offers deluxe cabins, RV and tent campsites, and rentable kayaks, canoes and more. For more information, visit their website.
Information from the West Virginia Department of Tourism contributed to this article.