Building Amazing Cities
By JIM HUNT
author, speaker, consultant
It is not often that you find an Amazing city just down the road from your hometown but that is the case with the beautiful city of Buckhannon, West Virginia.
My wife and I were hosting our granddaughter Avery and we thought a visit to the West Virginia Wildlife Center in French Creek would be an entertaining afternoon. We had not visited the “Game Farm”, as we knew it, but it is still a worthwhile visit for young or old and our granddaughter thoroughly enjoyed it.
The Wildlife Center is located just outside Buckhannon and it is the perfect place for learning about the wildlife in West Virginia. You walk along a paved path and can observe the animals in their natural habitat. Huge Bison and Elk are at the beginning of the tour and give an indication of the variety of animals that once roamed the hills of our state. We then saw the otters, which were a favorite of our granddaughter. We also saw the Bald Eagles, Wolves, Turkeys and many other types of animals. The highlight of the visit was seeing a black bear perched over a hundred feet in the air on top of a large tree. We picked up a few souvenirs in the gift shop and headed to Buckhannon for lunch.
I had not been to Buckhannon for several years but it is still a neat little town with small houses and a vibrant downtown. As you drive into the city you are met with a large mural on the side of a building entering the downtown district of the city. As you proceed through the downtown, you see dozens of small shops and restaurants. There are also flowers hanging from the light posts and a wonderful little area entering a parking lot that is filled with hanging baskets. We had lunch at C.J. Maggie’s and it is a great restaurant with hundreds of antiques spread throughout. My granddaughter was enthralled with the light shades made from galvanized buckets and decorated with names and pictures drawn by past visitors to the establishment.
After lunch, we spent some time walking around town and visited several antique shops. Avery was interested to see many of the old toys and dolls from years ago. The streets were busy and most of the shops seemed to have several shoppers milling about. Buckhannon has done a great job of getting the business community involved in the success of the city and I think they could teach other cities a good bit on how to revitalize.
The neighborhoods in Buckhannon are also something to be proud of. Although much of the housing is older, the citizens have done a great job keeping the property in great condition. Neatly mowed lawns and lots of flower gardens give the neighborhoods a welcoming look. While there are a few run-down properties, they are few and far between and many look like they have been making the effort to clean up.
We ended our visit to Buckhannon by driving through the campus of West Virginia Wesleyan College. Wesleyan is one of the nicest small colleges in West Virginia and the campus is well maintained and attractive. Buckhannon is fortunate to have a small college in their community and they have made the best of it. Like all Amazing cities, Buckhannon continues to work on becoming better and that is what makes it such a special city. My wife and I plan to make another visit to Buckhannon and enjoy more of the shops and restaurants in this Amazing city!