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A gay retreat in West Virginia; Western Tennessee’s big gamble

A gay retreat in West VirginiaYou don’t expect to find a gay haven in the backwoods of West Virginia, said Laura Moser in The New York Times. But the tiny community of Lost River is “definitively the backwoods,” and it’s slowly evolving into “a sort of Provincetown on the Potomac”—a getaway for gay weekenders from Washington, D.C., about two hours away. “The beauty of Lost River, beyond its rolling green hills and clear streams snaking through hardwood forests, is its surprising cosmopolitanism.” The area’s first gay tourists were attracted by the Guesthouse Lost River, a small upscale lodge that started advertising in gay publications in the early 1980s. Gay and lesbian couples have since been major contributors to the local economy, creating the Lost River Farmers Market and, just this year, the upscale Lost River Trading Post. Thanks to the area’s “live and let live” attitude, more and more same-sex couples are choosing Lost River for their wedding receptions.

Western Tennessee’s big gambleUnion City, Tenn., is hoping that the world will soon be traipsing through its cornfields, said Jay Powell in the Nashville Tennessean. Work on the town’s new Discovery Park of America is “far from over,” but the $100 million complex in the state’s northwestern corner is open for visitors, and already features so many attractions that its CEO admits, “I’ve been trying to figure out for about two or three years how to explain it.” Funded by retail magnate Robert Kirkland, the park stretches across 50 acres and includes dinosaur fossils, an earthquake simulator, botanical gardens, and a 60-foot replica of the human body, complete with a 30-foot slide. The park’s centerpiece, a modern structure of “sleek and curvy” white walls, rises up above the park’s reproduction log cabins and train depot, all stops along a journey through history that culminates in space exploration. Discovery Park wines—and hotels to stay in—might be a couple years away.

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