When we visit the farm in West Virginia we ALWAYS see deer. Lots of deer. But elk? Well, there are some at the Wildlife Center we drive past on our way in. And yes, I did try to trick my husband by pointing one out the first time we drove by as if seeing elk along the road was a usual thing.
But really it’s not.
Unless you lived in Marlinton, WV, in 1913. That’s when a trainload of elk arrived from Yellowstone Park. Here’s a snippet from the The Republican News printed on January 31, 1913.
“The carload of elk from Yellowstone Park arrived in Marlinton Tuesday and were unloaded Wednesday and taken out on the Allegheny Improvement Company lands near Minnehaha Springs. The elk while a little thin in flesh arrived in good condition.”
Of course, elk did once roam the mountains and meadows of West Virginia but were, most likely, hunted out and populations were pushed west. Until State Game and Fish Warden J. A. Viquesney made it his ambition to repopulate the state.
It didn’t work and the 50 or so elk faded away. Today, there’s a successful population in eastern Kentucky that’s beginning to spill over into southwestern West Virginia (Hatfield and McCoy country!). I have yet to see one, but it’s intriguing to read about hundred-year-old attempts to return them to the region.
Here’s one last newspaper clip from The Republican News:
“It is thought proper to advise you, however, that no more than twenty-five elk should be put in a car and that if the elk are shipped in ordinary cattle cars the lower part of the car should be covered with burlap canvas or some similar material to screen the animals from view and to prevent them from being disturbed at the stations enroute. The elk should be fed and watered, if possible, every twelve hours while on route.”
What do you think–should I work a stray elk or two into my next story?