“I couldn't live a week without a private library
- indeed, I'd part with all my furniture and squat and sleep on the floor
before I'd let go of the 1500 or so books I possess.” ― H.P. Lovecraft

Whistling In The Graveyard

Monday, August 11, 2003

First Virginia swiped West Virginia's top two tourism officials. Now a
prominent advertisement for a Virginia travel guide seems to promote a
well-known, scenic spot that's actually in West Virginia.


A Virginia tourism advertisement that has been appearing on the home page
for The Washington Post's Internet site looks suspiciously like the
gristmill at Babcock State Park, according to West Virginia Tourism
officials.


It's not clear how it happened, but West Virginia Tourism officials have
been laughing about the gristmill image for days.


"They can't annex Fayette County," said Matt Turner, a spokesman for West
Virginia Tourism. "We won't allow that."


The advertisement has a picture of a mill with a reddish-appearing wheel
beside a rocky stream. It says "Beauty. History. Adventure. Virginia Travel
Guide." The ad rotates with other advertisements on The Washington Post
home page.


The gristmill at Babcock, which is actually known as the Glade Creek Grist
Mill, has been a popular image for years. It is used on West Virginia
tourism material and has appeared on calendars, in photography books and
elsewhere. At least within the state, it has reached icon status.


To be fair, there's some debate about whether the picture in the Virginia
advertisement is really the Babcock gristmill. But it sure looks that way
to officials who know West Virginia's parks system well.


"I pulled it up, and at first I said 'nah,'" said Kim McHenry, programming
service administrator for West Virginia State Parks. "I can't say for sure,
but it looks a lot like it.


"It shows up in a lot of places. I've seen it on the front of romance
novels and all kinds of things. You never know where it's going to show
up."


In this case, the timing is particularly funny.


A few months ago, former West Virginia Tourism Commissioner Alisa Bailey
became chief executive officer for the Virginia Tourism Corp.


And Chris Canfield, formerly West Virginia Tourism's advertising director,
started a new job as Virginia's advertising director this month.


Canfield laughed about the coincidence. Because Virginia seems to have been
promoting a West Virginia attraction, he suggested a little quid-pro-quo.


"We expect you guys to promote some beaches and the Shenandoah Valley for
us," he said. "It's part of the 'Two Great States, One Short Drive:
Discover the Virginias' campaign."


It's not clear if West Virginia Tourism officials will go for that kind of
cooperative effort. But they are enjoying the Virginia advertisement.


"I can't say I blame the folks in Virginia for using beautiful West
Virginia photographs in their ads," said Steven Keith, West Virginia
Tourism's advertising manager. "That strategy has been working well for us
for years."

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