SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. — West Virginians are celebrating the opening of the state's first lighthouse.
Hundreds of people celebrated West Virginia's Sesquicentennial Thursday by climbing a 122-step spiral staircase to reach the top of the Summersville Lake Lighthouse.
"I feel like the weight's off my shoulder at this point," said Steve Keblesh, as he stood on the lighthouse's observation deck, towering 105 feet above his Summersville Lake Retreat campground.
Steve and Donna Keblesh bought a damaged wind turbine tower four years ago with the vision to turn it into a landmark for their campground. They partnered with the Fayette Institute of Technology and the Nicholas County Career & Technical Center for the project.
The tower's beacon can be seen from 30 miles away and is registered with the FAA as an official navigation aid.
"I get a sense of fruition," Keblesh told The Charleston Gazette (http://bit.ly/12ZhqSr). "I like seeing the smiles on people's faces when they reach the top and take in the view. I've heard a lot of them say things like, 'I never realized we live in such a pretty state.'"
Guided tours of the lighthouse will be offered daily.
Among those making the 122-step trek to the top was Mary Elkins of Gilboa, who has been monitoring the progress of work on the lighthouse for the past two years.
"I couldn't wait for this to open," she said. "It's been a fantastic project. People should come and see it now that it's done. The view is gorgeous, and I'm so proud that we have the only lighthouse in the state."