SMITHERS, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) — Eastern Wheeler Island is a well-kept secret for many and once had a runway for small airplanes. Most recently, it has been used for camping and fishing. Now officially under new ownership, the island will be given a new purpose.
The 17-acre island, located in the Kanawha River in Fayette County, sold for $60,000 in an auction Thursday night.
"It's spiritual and beautiful and just amazing," Laura Ballor said. "I'm very much enchanted by it.”
It’s exactly the piece of land Ballor said she has been searching for up and down the East Coast.
"I'm just really looking for something to honor my parents. My mom passed away at the end of the year, right before Christmas and they loved being out in nature and being on the water, so it's perfect. It's beautiful," she said.
Auctioneer Jordan Kiger said the former owner used it as a campsite. It's also been used as an airplane landing strip in the past, Kiger said.
Ballor has a different idea for her new island.
"I was thinking maybe a spiritual retreat, putting cabins on it and having people come out and learn about nature and the spiritual world,” she said.
She said her parents, Patricia and Michael Locke, loved nature and community, and when she saw the Eastern Wheeler Island was up for grabs, she knew that is where she would honor their memory.
"I’m sure they're jumping up and down in heaven right now. I’m sure they're like, 'Oh my gosh, she bought an island? she's crazy,’ but pretty exciting,” Ballor said.
Ballor said the next step will be buying a boat, and then she will start setting her plan in motion.