Bill Lynch, Mason Adams, Kelley Libby, Zander Aloi, Zack Harold Published

Roadside Attractions, Pepperoni Rolls And A Bus On A Rock, Inside Appalachia

A statue of confederate soldier fights a giant reptile on the roof to the entrance of the tourist attraction, Dinosaur Kingdom, in Virginia.
Dinosaur Kingdom in Natural Bridge, Virginia is a quirky roadside attraction.
Mason Adams/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

This week, dinos fight Civil War soldiers at a theme park throwback — Dinosaur Kingdom II in Natural Bridge, Virginia. 

Also, if you’re hungry for a pepperoni roll in West Virginia, you can find one at just about any gas station. So — how did they get so popular? We’ll hear one theory.

And we check out the backstory of a bus that sits at the confluence of the New and Gauley rivers — and the man who put it there.

Hear these stories and more this week, Inside Appalachia.

In This Episode:

The Dinosaur Kingdom Of Natural Bridge, Virginia

A photograph of a Civil War soldier statue being carried by a t-rex dinosaur. The statue of the soldier appears as if it were lifted off of a horse.
A dinosaur-solider creation from Mark Cline’s roadside attraction Dino World in Natural Bridge, Virginia.

Photo Credit: Pat Jarrett/Virginia Folklife Program

Every summer, Americans hit the road for vacation. The tradition of summer road tripping dates back for as long as there have been automobiles.

On these long drives, people needed breaks. So they’d stop at fruit stands, or fireworks stores, or … bizarre roadside attractions. A lot of those weird old-style attractions have disappeared, but some have managed to hang on.

In 2020, Mason Adams visited artist Mark Cline’s Dinosaur Kingdom II, in Natural Bridge, Virginia.

The Riddle Of The Pepperoni Roll

Dozens of fresh pepperoni rolls are shown on baking sheets. They are a golden brown in color.
The story of the West Virginia pepperoni roll is more than its creation, but also how it spread.

Photo Credit: Zack Harold/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Pepperoni rolls have been enshrined as part of West Virginia history through their connection to coal miners. They’re absolutely a favorite and available almost everywhere, but that wasn’t always true. How pepperoni rolls became a statewide convenience store staple might have less to do with coal mining and more to do with lunch ladies in Kanawha County.

Folkways Reporter Zack Harold took a bite out of pepperoni roll lore.

The Mystery Of The Bus On The Rock

A photo of a young woman with long brown hair stands on the sidewalk smiling for the camera. She wears a pink and gray striped shirt.
Anna Sale in 2014.

Photo Credit: Amy Pearl

If you listen to the popular podcast Death, Sex and Money, you know Anna Sale. Back in 2005, Anna was a reporter for West Virginia Public Broadcasting. She got curious about an old bus that sits on a rock at the confluence of the New and Gauley rivers, just past the town of Gauley Bridge.

So Anna traveled by boat with producer Russ Barbour to meet the man behind the mystery.  


Our theme music is by Matt Jackfert. Other music this week was provided by Sierra Ferrell, Paul McCartney, Joe Dobbs and the 1937 Flood, Blue Dot Sessions, Yonder Mountain String Band and Hot Rize.

Bill Lynch is our producer. Zander Aloi is our associate producer. Our executive producer is Eric Douglas. Kelley Libby is our editor. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens. We had help this week from folkways editor Chris Julin.

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Inside Appalachia is a production of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.