I am attending a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute for Teachers for the next three weeks. We are in Shepherdstown, WV – and it is a beautiful old town and a lovely old university (Shepherd University). The thing that initially is interesting to me is the power of the place name. Surrounding locations have constructed names that are: Family Name + -town, -ville, -ford, -burg = Townname. Or the place may have a descriptor: Family Name + Heights, Grove, Ferry, Wood, Hill = Town Name.
This reminds me of traveling in parts of England. Cambridge is the Bridge over the Cam. Oxford is the place to take your animals over the Thames (Isis). But here in West Virginia they seem to have made it an art form. It makes me want to find out about Douglas, Shepherd, Martin, Gerrard, Van, Baker and Kearney (among so many others).
We have plans. I am at the institute with a former colleague, and we are not staying on campus but in nearby Martinsburg. So many things around us (plus our own research to do) Antietam, the Shenandoah River, Harpers Ferry/John Brown and the National Historic Site. For the last two days we have been doing a lot of listening and learning. We will be attending the six new plays at the Contemporary American Theater Festival and traveling to both Washington and the Hawks Nest State Park. We will be busy, but the region is spectacularly lovely and PACKED with history.