Some of my favorite memories of my time at West Virginia University have been created lounging on the rocks, swimming in the river, or hiking down the trails around Blue Hole. My friends and I have been making regular summer visits to the area around Blue Hole since my sophomore year.
There isn’t much I would rather do than spend a day by the water, which is why I took a particular interest in working on this story. Not only do I want to provide information to viewers and readers, I want to find out for myself what is going to happen to our spot.
Seeing the condition the beach was in when Rodney, Adam and I pulled up for our first day of filming and interviews changed the way I viewed the story. At first, I thought the crux of the story was going to be hazard to it’s visitors. However, the litter accumulating at this beautiful site was too omnipresent to ignore.
Litter became as big of an issue in the story as injury to Blue Hole’s visitors. Both issues are tied together because each issue grows as more people discover the spot.
While doing interviews about the litter, we found dissatisfaction among locals that frequent the spot. They said they don’t mind college kids coming, they just wish they would clean up. When we were there, the litter was the worst I’d seen in awhile.
The Mayor of Masontown and local visitors said there was no trash pick-up system in place for the area. The area is cleaned exclusively by volunteer groups.
It is my opinion that if there was a dumpster in place in the gravel parking lot directly behind the beach area, litter would be less of a problem.
The problem of visitor injury has a less visible solution. The 911 dispatch center in Masontown says they field about 10 to 15 calls and one fatality per year from locations on in the Blue Hole/Jenkinsburg Bridge area.
People are most commonly injured by jumping off the bridge, getting pummeled by the rapids or car accidents along the narrow, cliff-side road that leads to the Jenkinsburg Bridge.
Injury at in the Blue Hole area is especially dangerous because of the delay the road conditions cause for EMTs and the limited cell phone service by the river. People in need of assistance will often have to go to the nearest residence with a land line to call 911. After 911 is called, the dispatcher said it takes an average of 25 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.
While Blue Hole is a fun and scenic location, its positives must be tempered by the risk to its visitors. Those who visit must be responsible with their actions and their garbage.