The Shannondale & Beyond Story
We thought that as our 10 year anniversary approaches we'd try recount how Shannondale and Beyond (S&B) came to be nearing a decade of serving as a voice of the Blue Ridge Mountain. We've mentioned some of the circumstances related to how we came into being, but have never pulled it all together and plopped it down in one place. This isn't intended to be a complete and exhaustive history. We'd welcome being advised if we've left anything out of the story. We'd also be tickled to publish additional information our viewers may have to share.
"In the beginning" there was no S&B. Yep, we weren't the first to offer a discussion forum and website to our Mountain's residents. That title, as best we can determine, goes to Joyce Fisher's "Shannondale Community Bulletin Board" which was established in January of 1999. We say "as best as we can determine" because no one was thinking of keeping a record or archives of community bulletin boards except those farsighted folks at the Wayback Machine. Thanks to them we do have screenshots and links to pages of some of the "pioneering" efforts.
Ms. Fisher's website served as a portal to other internet destinations and provided a bulletin board for discussion and announcements. The Wayback Machine shows an early version of that site:
(Click the image for a more readable view
Reading some of the entries reveals that not too much has changed when it comes to our Mountain's day to day events and concerns. We don't know what happened to Ms. Fisher's project, but something prompted her to post a farewell on the next bulletin board's iteration
and in which she gives her blessing to Woody Reedy who assumed control of the bulletin board. To our knowledge there was no website with which it was associated.
Some of the usernames may be familiar. The recurring topics are recognizable as the usual suspects even on our forums today, e.g. Dogs, internet and cell service, noisy neighbors and more.
Some things never seem to change
Woody Reedy operated the board for a couple of years. We don't have specific dates. But he related his reasons for leaving in a post to Shannondale and Beyond in 2004:
Hello, this is Woody Reedy. I had heard that Troy was moving on and he would no longer be maintaining the board. I'm glad to see that someone else has taken over and created this new board, it looks GREAT. It would really be a shame to loose this communication tool for all of the Shannondale residents and the surrounding communities. I do visit old neighbors in Shannondale from time to time, and always have fond memories as I drive down gate 4 towards the river. You all live in such a beautiful area. Please don't take it for granit.
I have still not moved to my cabin, deep in the "hills" of WV. Circumstances beyond my control came up to keep that from happening. After we sold our house in Shannondale, we had to move to Charles Town, (Libert Street), we rented a house there until October 2003. We then moved to Clear Spring, MD, renting a house there. This is where we currently are residing. We plan to move to our cabin in August and open our country store, (Woody's Country Store), in mid/late August.
If any of you are ever in the area of my store, (after August, it's closed right now), drop in and say hi. It's located between French Creek, WV and Alexander, WV on Alexander Road.
Woody's Country Store
Rt. 1 Box 76-B
French Creek, WV 26218
Have fun and be happy,
The person, Troy, to whom Woody referred was Troy Stegner who, with his wife Angela, took over the bulletin board made it a part of their newly established website, Shannondale.tv. Some of the Stegner's website remains in the internet archives. The last capture of the homepage in January of 2004 can be viewed below
The sidebar menu on the left margin lacks contrast but by hovering you can pick out the links, one of which will take you to the forum's homepage below
That page's General Chat link leads to another with topics authored by some S&B usernames that may be familiar to
Shortly after the January page above was published Troy found employment in the Southwest and moved to New Mexico (I think). In an effort to keep Shannondale.tv and its forum on the air, four of its regular users agreed to assume jobs as moderators, a task Angela and Troy had been performing before relocating. The Stegners were to remain as the website's owners and administrators. Those four wereTony, Chip Gallo, Tony Rosati and Willis, all current S&B participants (tho Tony R. posts infrequently now from Upstate NY).
In an unfortunate combination of events, Shannondale.tv experienced a software disaster shortly after Troy had left for the Southwest and the Mountain was suddenly w/o an internet message board. As .tv continued to remain off the air, the four prospective moderators met and decided to restart the effort replete with a full service, new website. We chose the now familiar name, Shannondale and Beyond, and its likewise familiar URL, shannondale.org. That domain and name were reserved on March 26, 2004.
(We consider April 9th as the date we actually went "live and on the air" after the internet recognized our existence and we began enrolling members-Chip has the honor of being member #1 )
A lot of thought was put into the scope & format of the new website. The first homepage was rather spartan in appearance in as can be seen in June 2004
shannondaleclubalumni.org and blueridgecacres.org which, not coincidentally, were operated by two of S&B's principals.
The new website's forum was a version of the free Snitz software. It appears rather primitive in retrospect. An early capture can be viewed below
Some of the earliest threads established were to welcome all to the new location:
HERE & HERE
The Snitz software served S&B until 2007 when it was felt a forum with more versatility would serve viewers better. We chose vBulletin's package, a paid version which, thanks to our users' donations and a modest number of sponsors, we were able to afford. That migration to vBulletin was announced in February 2007
Tony began playing with the website's "curb appeal"
And as far as our outward look is concerned, that's that.
But behind the proverbial curtain, quite a bit happened over the past decade.
The original four "founders" decreased by one relatively early when Tony Rosati shown here at Shannondale Springs in 2005
He was replaced by our forum user, ministerswife. We'd meet occasionally F2F to discuss policy.
Ministerswife eventually found it difficult to get to the mountain regularly and left the group. Chip's other activities also interfered with his participation and he stepped down to a regular user's status (both continue to participate in discussions regularly). In 2007 S&B was fortunate to find replacements, users Jenniffer and Mountainmoon22.
Also in 2007, we decided that it was in ours and our members' interests to register as a corporation in WV. Our application was approved as Shannondale and Beyond Inc. on 4/2/2007. at the same time we registered "doing business as" or dbas for Shannondale Club Alumni (SCA), Blue Ridge Litter Look Out (BRILLO) and Friends of Shannondale Springs (FOSS). (Our misguided effort to establish a forum in Shepherdstown, Shepherdstown Forums, was a colossal flop )
A year later we decided to apply for tax exempt status as a 501c3 organization. The four directors at that time are shown in May of 2008 during a working session to prepare the application for submittal to the IRS.
we successfully completed the process all by ourselves and 3 months later celebrated receipt of the IRS approval in August at a business luncheon.
And that IS about that.
We're still in business and approaching that 10 year mark, offering a free service with a minimum of advertising to all who wish to visit our site. There haven't been many changes recently, at least worth mentioning. We'd be delighted to know if this presentation of S&B's history can be improved or if readers have anything to add to our account. The beauty of internet publishing is that the delete and enter keys are never far away.
P.S. we haven't mentioned our moderators' contributions to the forum's operation over the years. We'll try to rectify that oversight soon.
Keep posting to support your very own, local, Blue Ridge (and beyond) website/forum.
Thanks for your support