No. 3093, Webster County, WV

Photos of Webster County, WV, which is ranked by the New York Times among the hardest places to live in America.

There is something I have always inherently cozy about the Appalachians. It’s as if the dense trees and perpetual fog are a sort of blanket. Webster County feels like the kind of tiny place where, perhaps because of the coziness, or the age of the hills, or the isolation, things are meant to be a little bit magical.

I bought a set of dowsing rods as a gag gift at a local gift shop. When I took them to the register, the clerk asked me if I had ever used them before. When I said I hadn’t, she told me she kept two pairs at home, and that she used them all the time. She found them especially useful for finding her car keys. This kind of superstition feels a little less like wives tales in Webster County, and more like a new kind of possibility.

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