CLEVELAND — As we all know it has been scientifically proven that Cleveland, Ohio is the best city in the world, but were you aware that there's more than one Cleveland? Way more than one. In fact, while we're clearly the Alpha Cleveland, there are many, many beta Clevelands spread out all over this great land and we thought it might be fun to visit a few of those other Clevelands to see how they compare.
We chose Cleveland, West Virginia to start with, due to simple proximity. Sure, we've all dreamed of winging off for a luxury vacay in Cleveland, Oklahoma, but the distance is prohibitive. So we headed out for the CLE of WV and after journeying roughly 295 miles away from Cleveland, we finally managed to reach it.
Cleveland, West Virginia is a small unincorporated community located alongside the Little Kanawah River in Webster County, nearly smack dab in the middle of the Mountain State. This particular Cleveland is quiet, quaint, and clean. It's comprised of a small cluster of homes, a well-maintained roadside park, and it has a church and a post office slash general store -- none of which are currently in operation.
Cleveland, West Virginia is so small that most people traveling through it probably don't even realize they were there. The cell phone service is spotty and the nightlife leaves a bit to be desired, but it's also quite beautiful, charming, and remarkably unspoiled.
According to the last census, Cleveland has a population of 95, few of whom seem to be out and about during my visit. Fortunately, I did find some residents who were gracious enough to chat with me a bit and tell me about their Cleveland.
"Cleveland in West Virginia is just country and country people and close-knit community. And if anyone needs anything, everybody's there to help them," says Clevelander Jill Woody.
So what does the Cleveland, West Virginia contingency do for fun?
"We go to Jerry's Run Theater, mostly listen to Bluegrass," say mother and daughter duo Diane and Nellie Chips.
Unlike our Cleveland, which was named after obscure Connecticut lawyer and land surveyor, Moses Cleaveland, their town is named after president Grover Cleveland, "Mr. Two Non-Consecutive Terms" himself. Imagine my shock. When I learned that the mother-daughter duo were actually double Clevelanders, having lived for a time in our Cleveland as well, I had to know. How did the Clevelands compare? Having had the unique perspective of living in both Clevelands, which one do they prefer?
"I think I prefer this one." Why? "Too much hustle and bustle," said the Chipses.
The people I met in Cleveland, West Virginia were all welcoming, proud of their town and happy to talk about it. So having completed my research, I declared Cleveland West Virginia, to be an excellent Cleveland. So congratulations, West Virginia Clevelanders. And thank you for the hospitality.
More from Mike Polk Jr.: