The Robert W. Craig Campground at Jennings Randolph Lake is an unexpected first for us; there is no water hook-up at any of the campsites. There is water available at various central locations around the campground, but there are no individual water hookups at the campsites. I was caught somewhat off-guard because I made the reservation under the impression each site had water and electricity. Oh well, time to learn more about RVing.
We end up with a community spigot conveniently not far from our pad, but we can't hook to it other than using it to fill our 26 gallon fresh water holding tank in the trailer. No problem, using two water hoses to reach the spigot, Ilse holds down the spring-loaded handle while I turn on the trailer pump and go inside the trailer to monitor the gauge. It takes about ten minutes and we are set for the three days we will be there. We take a shower in the trailer that first night instead of using the campsite facility just to see how much we use. After one day we are comfortable with how much water we actually need, and are no longer concerned about future campsites were we might not have a water hookup.
The campground is almost full when we arrive with only a few empty sites. I consider the campground fairly remote as every road to the campground is considered “very hilly,” or to a Florida boy, “mountainous,” but it is quite popular, especially on weekends. Most of the license plates are from either West Virginia or Maryland, with only a few from other states. The locals probably don't even pay any attention to the roads.
The pads are paved, spacious and clean, and the grounds are well mowed and maintained. We are on the second loop, and while the toilets are the usual clean, well lighted facilities, the only showers are on the first loop. The first loop also has a really nice playground for children. Deer run through the edge of the first loop as we walk the dogs, children playing not far away don't even notice. The camp ground is serene compared to Goose Point, even though the Robert W. Craig campground is full.
With tent campers and pop-ups everywhere, just like the Virginia campground, this one is laid out with enough space and greenery between pads to absorb the crowd without imposing on anyone's space or privacy. A really nice campground.
The next morning we drive to nearby Westernport, then to the closest large town, Keyser, to get gas and do local sight-seeing. We drive past the back gate of the huge Kingsford charcoal plant as we descend the mountain on a West Virginia county road from the campground. We eventually circle the entire Randolph Jennings Lake just to see the area. We stop to take photos of Luke, the picturesque town across the valley and watch a deer run along the edge of the road behind us. It turns and runs through a gate beside the charcoal plant. It acts as if it knows where it is going.
The booming industry along the rivers and valleys of this area of West Virginia seem to be around every bend. They are in stark contrast to the endless miles of closed plants in Bassett, Virginia, where we stayed at the nearby Goose Point Campground. Plants and industry seem to be an endless array of buildings along this narrow stretch of the Potomac River. The area has great natural beauty, and many resources used by industry as well.
They seem to be doing a pretty good job of keeping it balanced. Gone are the days of smoke filled valleys from steam engines and open coal-fired smokestacks. Back in the fifties when when our dad used to drive the family through West Virginia, we kept our windows up, regardless of the temperature. We couldn't stand the stink and eye-burning smoke. The nostalgia people have a tendency to overlook these things when they reminisce about the past.
We stop at the official Corps of Engineer viewing site, look at the Waffle Rock, pick up a few brochures, and decide when we leave on Monday we will back-track about fifteen miles or so to avoid the county road out of the park that led us to the charcoal plant. The road is just too primitive for my taste, I would rather stick with the road we drove in on.
When we wake up Monday morning, we find we are all alone. Of the ninety sites, only six are occupied. Very few cross-country campers seem to stop here. As with the facilities at Philpott Lake, the majority of users seem to be local inhabitants who take advantage of really great facilities mainly on weekends.
We plan on leaving later on Monday than normal because we only have a four-hour drive to Raystown Lake in Pennsylvania, our next reserved campsite. Check in there isn't until five in the afternoon so we take our time having breakfast and breaking camp. The weather is cool, the skies are clear, and the scenery is just beautiful. Plus, we have the road to ourselves. RVing doesn't get any better than this.
NEXT: On to the most popular campground in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers system, Raystown Lake, Pennsylvania, at: