(04/08/2019)
By James Haught 2018

My very favorite place on earth is Slab Camp a tributary of Sycamore Creek.

My Passport has my name and Arnoldsburg, WV on it. I have shown my passport on every continent except Antarctica. There are many beautiful sites on this planet but I developed a love affair with Slab Camp at a very early age.

Slab Camp belonged to the McDonald family. James Faris McDonald had large land holdings on Sycamore and Mud Lick. He built a log cabin a short distance up Slab Camp. I remember it as a three-room cabin with a sleeping loft.

James Faris McDonald married Gerutia Reip on 19 March 1871. They had eight children. Their first child, Robert, died. Clay, Scotch, Tell and Laurel Jane were born in the log cabin on Slab Camp.

The old log cabin was still standing when I went to Slab Camp in 1940. I loved visiting the old cabin. I wondered what it was like sleeping in the loft on a cold winters night. The walls of the cabin were papered with newspapers. I enjoyed reading about things that happened at the turn of the century.

A short distance from the house was a log barn. The McDonalds had carefully cut down a large hollow sycamore tree. They made barrels out of it by nailing boards across the bottom. The old barn was a wonderful place to catch or kill copperheads.

The bottom land of Slab Camp had been cleared and planted in grain crops and vegetables. A stream flowed through the hollow. There were several pot-holes of water. I would tie a piece of thread to a limber pole and a bent straight pin on the other end. The next step was putting a piece of earthworm on my "hook." With luck I caught enough sunfish for supper that evening.

In the 1930's the McDonalds had the timber cut. About half way up the hollow was a saw mill. There was a large pond, a mill and a few dwellings. My mother did not like for me to go to the mill area because there were several dug wells.

From the mill site a tram road went up the hill. It was like a railroad but the power was provided by a truck engine. At the top of the hill (Mt Zion Ridge) the lumber was loaded on trucks.

Some time in the early 1880's the McDonald family moved from the log cabin to a large two-story house on Sycamore. Here Edith, Logan and Brown were born. It was also here that James Faris and Gerutia Reip McDonald died. (Dan McDonald sent a photograph of the two story McDonald house on Sycamore to the Hur Herald.)

As a young boy (9-11) I would go down in Slab Camp. I knew it like the back of my hand. Not only would I fish in the stream for sun fish. My uncle who went to World War II gave me his steel traps. I ran a trap line. I caught foxes, o'possums, racoons and skunks. One day I caught a family's cat. Its leg was broken and it was bleeding heavily. I killed the cat with a club. I collected my traps and quit my trap line.

I also remember collecting hickory nuts, walnuts and hazel nuts. I would remove the husk from the walnuts, crack them and take them to Kelly's story to sell. People were always eager to buy walnut meats. But the girls at Grantsville Grade School were not eager to spend recess with a boy with walnut stained hands.

I do not have the writing skills to capture what a wonderful place Slab Camp was. I used to say that when God returns to earth He will sit on Mt Zion Ridge with his feet in the cool water of Slab Camp.


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