While stationed on Long Island to conduct secret war research for the U.S. government during World War II, O. Winston Link started snapping photographs of the Long Island Railroad tracks behind his lab. Eager to capture large-scale railroad pictures at night, he built his own customized flash equipment. After the war, Link harnessed that creative curiosity by spending five years photographing the Norfolk and Western Railway, the last large steam-powered American railroad. From his 20 trips to the railway's tracks in four states, Link collected 2,400 pictures.
His work didn't garner attention until the 1980s, when he published his first collection of railroad photos in the lauded book Steam, Steel & Stars. The West Virginia Historical Society continues to preserve his legacy with the O. Winston Link Museum, which showcases Link's Norfolk and Western project while filling in its historical context. Throughout seven galleries, patrons hear the sounds of bustling locomotive engines, adjust the lighting of an interactive diorama's photograph, and ogle Link's original photographic equipment, including flashbulbs, power boxes, and super power boxes. The museum underscores its edifying galleries with a plentitude of tours, workshops, and ongoing photography programs.
Beyond the Green Indoor Golf & Sportsbar grants players the chance to play a round at a virtual recreation of a famous course with its high-definition golf simulator and refuel with pub-style fare. Playing partners set off without need for a cart and smack real golf balls into a highly realistic image of their chosen course. The screen captures each stroke's distance and spin rate and analyzes the mechanics of the player's swing to identify the causes of any undesired results. The onsite grille's lunch and dinner menus refuel golfers with Chicago–style hot dogs and sourdough sandwiches, which are much more satisfying than their virtual counterpart—bananas stolen from unsuspecting Donkey Kongs.
Perched on the banks of Smith Mountain Lake, Bridgewater Marina & Boat Rental launches and lends a variety of lake skimmers to pleasure-seeking pontooners. Peruse and patrol the waters for the elusive Bigfin from atop a four-stroke pontoon boat, whose flat deck area gives a surface for chips and dip and heated canasta competitions. Hedonists, meanwhile, can crank hydroplaning into high gear with a runabout ski-boat rental that?when brought up to speed?can quickly dry hair still soaked with Gatorade from last night's solitaire victory. Bridgewater gives pilots a free safety and instructional orientation before launching them onto the lake, and allows boaters to upgrade one-hour rentals to two hours, or even full days, for an extra fee.
Chartered in 1970 as the first science museum in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Science Museum of Western Virginia educates all ages with interactive exhibits and events. Exhibits include displays that engage visitors with information about healthy living, Earth-themed lessons about geology, energy, and natural resources, and a how-it-works gallery that answers questions about physics, chemistry, technology, and why gravity shuts off every leap day.
Lucky Dog Grille's inviting environs serve up a menu of flavorful pub fare in comfortable noshing quarters for the whole family. Their plump, aromatic Big Dog wings send tongues aflutter, being slathered in one of your choice of 14 sauces and served with a side of palate-cooling ranch or blue cheese sauce ($5.49 for an order of six, $10.49 for 12, $15.99 for 18). Sample the lightly breaded fried pickles, golden brown and sidekicked with ranch ($5.49), or prove the conservative cheese forecast wrong with crispy, skin-on potato skin flats ($6.99). A host of handy handhelds like the spicy feta wrap ($7.99) and BBQ bacon steak Philly sandwich ($8.99) are equally capable of quelling vicious hunger pangs, or doubling as makeshift melee weapons during unexpected Plesiosaur attacks.
Aquatic Adventures’ staff of lifelong instructors and competitive swimmers transforms young fins into formidable flippers over the course of a month. Group lessons are divided into six class levels. Green guppies can wet their feet in the Seal program, which acquaints them with basic swimming skills in the shallower depths, and Walrus-level classes build on the basics to foster independence in swimmers who are comfortable putting their faces in the water, floating, and socializing with trout. Freestyle, backstrokes, and breath control constitute the Ice Fish curriculum, before the Macaroni Penguin program prepares youngsters for endurance swimming with longer distance practice and deep-water-diving skills. Children already privy to the secrets of the deep can enroll in advanced Polar Bear clinics that aim to further refine their skills through a focus on competitive swimming strokes and salmon hunting.