The Mystery Hole, Ansted, West Virginia
This report is based on a trip to the Mystery Hole in August 2011.
Right at a bend in Rt. 60 in Ansted, West Virginia, stands a wildly-colored Quonset hut with a Volkswagen Beetle crashed into it. True to the grand tradition of the American roadside attraction, the Mystery Hole does everything it can to draw you in. If it takes a wrecked car, a clown, a gorilla, a bear, and garish paint job, so be it. It’s just a mile west of Hawks Nest State Park, and if you are in the area anyway, it’s worth a visit.
Just the outdoor display of tackiness was enough to satisfy me. There was something about the place that brought to mind Mark Cline, although I know this is not one of his attractions. A snarling bear sits on top of one side of the building. There’s a mural on the side of the building by artist Sherd Maynard, Jr. of the New River Gorge bridge. A creature that looks like a cross between a pig and a human, with a snake slithering around its shoulders, stands guard. The Volkswagen Beetle has “Redneck Taxi” painted on the outside. There’s a little flying saucer painted on the side of the building. Are they implying that the strange effects of the Mystery Hole are caused by extraterrestrial beings?
Upon taking the tour (only $6.00, such a deal), you agree not to take photos inside the Mystery Hole. The tour guide leads a group of no more than eight people down a ramp which takes you past the gift shop and then down below. For the next ten or fifteen minutes, it’s half West Virginia hillbilly humor, and half demonstration of how the Mystery Hole “defies gravity.” While I didn’t find it as amazing as promised, it was certainly an entertaining experience. I won’t spoil it for others, but I think I know what the secret of the Mystery Hole is. It’s less about gravity, and more about satisfying people’s desire to believe that there are some things that can’t be explained.
When the tour is over, you exit the Mystery Hole — wait for it — through the gift shop.
More information about The Mystery Hole:
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