Our creek flows three miles south to the river, and about 250 miles up-river sits the wonderful little town of Sistersville. Yes, it was founded by two sisters in 1815, who inherited the land from their father who had originally settled the area with his wife and 22 children. This far upstream, the river is far more narrow than the river that we know, and the land to the east rises sharply into the nearby mountains, but barges and tugboats still pass by.

I have come to learn that every fall, the little town of Sistersville turns into a mecca for marble lovers from all over the country, north and south, east and west, hundreds and even thousands of miles away. Some folks drive, others fly, and everyone converges on the little town to celebrate the glass orb, but you might be wondering why Sistersville with its yearly population that likely hovers at no more than 2,000?

This is because the town lies in the heart of what was once the capital of the marble-making world.

Marbles were once made not only along the river, but in the surrounding mountains, because the land provided the coal or natural gas to keep the furnaces burning 24 hours a day, day in and day out, and the silica sand to make the glass.

Now sadly, only one game marble factory remains, just a few miles upriver from Sistersville, the sole survivor in all of North America, though a factory across the river still makes industrial marbles, such as for use in paint cans.

We woke early and left the creek valley, driving east along the river, eventually crossing over a bridge, and finally arriving to park on the outskirts of town.

I could barely contain myself. I wanted to run and skip, but I somehow managed to hold back and calmly walk, Greg by my side, the few blocks into
town. We walked past the bank and the historical society, and under a large banner that was strung between the buildings, proclaiming the festival.

To my excited delight, I could see that the streets ahead, at the town’s cross roads center, were solidly lined with marble vendors and collectors.

Two young girls wearing crowns, who had earned the title of marble queen through their volunteer hours, walked the streets smiling and talking with

Glass artists created handmade orbs right before our eyes. One young man, who sat under a canopy, was working on a marble that he was fashioning at the end of a glass rod that he heated with a torch flame.

He explained that he was learning the art from his grandfather, who was off talking to others at the time we stopped by. Everyone was leisurely, and happily, stopping to talk and share their love of marbles.

I had brought a set amount of cash to spend, my allowance, but alas, I ended up needing to visit the cash machine at the bank. Greg knowingly smiled.

That evening, after dinner with marble friends at a wonderful local buffet, I spread my treasures across our hotel room bed. I could not imagine being any more happy.

The next morning, after breakfast, again with friends, second cup of coffee in hand, I carefully repacked my treasures for the drive back to the creek.

As I packed each treasure, each so wonderfully beautiful I could not possibly choose a favorite, it occurred to me that there was no need to do so, for my real marble treasure was my marble friends, near and far, new and old, and the many smiles and hugs we shared.

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in Ohio. Visit them at straightcreekvalleyfarm.com.