Blue Ridge Country - May/June 2015 - 18
the lake, were helping get the lighthouse registered as
an aviation landmark. They dug around in a hangar and
found a 1941-vintage Westinghouse rotational beacon.
Electrician Ed Wood removed the energy-wasting 1,000watt incandescent bulb and replaced it with a 400-watt
multi-vapor bulb that casts a beam of light visible for 30
miles. Info: summersvillelakeretreat.com
'too Good to Burn' in
scott "Mash" schuMaker has visions of a Virginia
"Moonshine Trail," with his Appalachian Mountain
Spirits Mercantile and Stillhouse Store on upper Main
The Summersville Lake lighthouse is powered by a 1941 beacon.
Street in Marion, a prominent destination for visitors
seeking a little taste of the corn.
A series of career moves led the western
Massachusetts-born Schumaker to Smyth County
where he determined his future resided in producing
high-quality, high-proof spirits from a mountaintop
still. After navigating Virginia's tricky alcohol producaLthouGh West VirGinia is landlocked, it does have a tion and sales laws, Schumaker's Marion storefront
and tasting room opened last fall.
lighthouse. The 10-stor y structure overlooks
Located across the street from
Summersville Lake in Nicholas County, and its comthe historic General Francis
ing to be started in 2009 as a joke.
Marion Hotel and the iconic
Canadian Rick Butler was part of a construcLincoln Theater, home of
tion crew erecting wind turbines for Beech
television's "Song of the
Ridge Wind Farm in Greenbrier County. The
crew was staying at Summersville Lake
series, the store is part of a
Retreat owned by Steve Keblesh and his wife
remarkable revitalization of
Donna. One evening Keblesh kidded Butler
downtown Marion. The
that if he could shanghai one of the turbine
town has a burgeoning nighttowers he would make a lighthouse out of it.
life after decades of a "roll up
Butler's deadpan reply:"Funny you should
the streets at 7 p.m." existence
say that Mate, we just lost one over the hill." A
and a near 80-percent downtown
100-foot section of a tower had broken loose and
tain Top Distille
vacancy rate. The fact that it is a "wet"
rolled 75 feet down a hill during a torrential rain. It was
town in a "dry" county makes it Smyth County's cenknocked out of round, rendering it useless.
The rest, including a delivery detour of 100 miles, is ter of gravity for people coming to stay and play.
Schumaker originally planned to produce alcohol
history that includes local vocational teachers and students designing and building a 10-story spiral staircase as fuel, but old-time moonshiners told him his stuff
was too good to burn. Visitors to the quirky store can
to go inside.
One problem Keblesh did not anticipate was finding taste several varieties and flavors of 'shine. The proda light. He'd planned to buy an antique beacon removed uct dearest to the distiller's heart is his gold medalfrom another lighthouse. But most of those wind up in winning "War Horn" whiskey, named in honor of his
museums, and those he found on eBay were priced at late brother, a military combat veteran.
For more: virginianwhiskeys.com, marionva.org, and
around half a million.
The answer was another dose of lighthouse serendip- visitvirginiamountains.com
ity: Jerry and Mary Rader, owners of Rader Airfield across -Ken Perrotte
yes, West Virginia has a
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