Photo by Chris DellaMea at coalcampusa.com
A phenomena that has lingered and haunted my thoughts occurred on Sunday July 28th after visiting my son in the remote local of Pocahontas, Virginia. This is Appalachia coal mining country. Many of the mines have shut down and now the communities seem to be trapped in another time. I was mesmerized by what I saw there. And we were somewhat lost as I tried to find my way back to the highway that would continue us on our trip.
At one point after traveling on an amazingly twisting mountain road we emerged into a community that immediately caught my attention. It could have been a town from dreams that I have had. Large older houses lined the highway and continued down a couple of side streets. The community seemed like a ghost town though there were obviously people living there. In fact numbers of them could be seen in yards or on front porches. But an aura of eeriness prevailed. If I had seen this in a dream I would have accepted it as perfectly normal. It was not a dream, but later my memory of what I saw here seemed much like dream memory.
Since I was somewhat "lost" and a bit anxious to be on my way, and more importantly, get some lunch for us two now famished sojourners, I rushed through the place. However I was haunted by what I had seen. I wanted to know what that strange "dream town" was. I told my wife that I surmised that it had been an old mining town since all of the large houses were similar in construction and laid out in what appeared to be a carefully planned community. For the rest of that day's journey my thoughts continued to return to the Dream Town.
At the motel that evening I tried to research the town on the internet, but to no avail. I was tired from the day's travels and gave up the search. The place nagged my thoughts for the next two weeks. Then with the help of Google maps I found it. The street view Google function confirmed that the community that we had passed through was the community of Bishop which sits partly in West Virginia and partly in Virginia. As I had surmised, Bishop had once been a busy coal community with most of the houses having been built in the 1930's. The current inhabitants were most likely what remained of the former coal mining families. The area is apparently quite impoverished.
The town of Bishop has been stuck in my memory since we passed through it. I haven't dreamed about it yet as far as I am aware, but it reminds me of a place that I have dreamed about in the past. That's probably what struck me about the place. It all seemed so familiar to me.
Have you ever been in a place or situation that you feel as though you've dreamed about before? Do the places in your dreams that you don't recognize actually exist beyond your realm of experience?