Researching My Connection to The Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia

by , under Ashtabula County, Cleveland

A couple days ago, I asked the Chat feature of Microsoft Bing to write a short report on “Greenbrier Resort Through the Years,” Here is the result:

“The Greenbrier Resort is a National Historic Landmark and world-class resort that has been welcoming guests from around the world since 17781. The resort is located in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia2. The Greenbrier was known by the name White Sulphur Springs for the first 125 years3. It was the chosen place for relaxation by several Presidents through the years, and it also served as a secret fallout shelter for the US Congress during the Cold War4.”

The Greebrier Resort, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia

Why was I interested in The Greenbrier, a high-end resort? I had just learned that the Cleveland Browns professional football team was undergoing their 2023 National Football League preseason training camp at the Greenbrier. Apparently, other NFL teams have done the same in earlier years.

In a Jul 22 2023 interview on WKYC Channel 3 (the NBC affiliate in Cleveland) I saw Coach Kevin Stefanski explain that the team decided to hold the training camp at the resort to foster teambuilding. Apparently, the team believes that having the players and staff living together away from home for several days would help players and coaches learn more about each other and build togetherness.

When I first learned that the Browns were going to the Greenbrier for teambuilding, I had a flashback to 1963 when my employer, Penton Publishing Co, based in Cleveland, decided to take the entire staff of Foundry magazine to the Greenbrier for a sales meeting.

The stated goal for the meeting was also teambuilding. The president of Penton and various magazine staff members gave presentations to the group. And, of course, many of the staff members brought their golf clubs and enjoyed afternoon rounds of golf during the meeting.

At the time, I was a relatively new employee, with the title of Engineering Editor. I had graduated from Case Institute of Technology in June of 1960 with a degree in metallurgical engineering. As an undergraduate, the focus of my study was foundry technology, and I had a small scholarship from the Foundry Educational Foundation to help with tuition.

To round out my research, I asked Bing Chat to create a brief history of Foundry magazine: Here is that additional report: “John Augustus Penton was an iron molder by trade who began developing a trade publication to serve the casting industry. In 1892 he published the first issue of Foundry in Detroit. In 1901 John Penton moved to Cleveland, Ohio, to head the Iron and Steel Press Company. It published Foundry magazine and another magazine then called the Iron Trade Review, which eventually became Industry Week1,2.” 

I was interested to see that both Bing Chat “reports” included superscripts linking them to information sources. I have left the superscripts in the reports above, but removed the links to the sources, which include the Greenbrier website and, among others. The inclusion of sources in Bing Chat differed from my experience with the AI chatbot ChatGPT, which didn’t provide footnote links in the few cases I have used it.

For comparison, I opened a ChatGPT conversation with the following: “Greenbrier Resort through the years.” The result was longer than the Bing Chat report and included some interesting discussion about the resort in the American Civil War and details of the Cold War Bunker (see the reference to the fallout shelter above). Here is a link to my ChatGPT conversation:

A historical note: The paternal grandparents of Mary Jane VanCourt Huskonen (my late wife) came to Richmond Center in Ashtabula County, Ohio, from the tiny town of Ellenboro in Ritchie County, West Virginia. I used Google Maps to learn that the drive time from White Sulphur Springs to Ellenboro would be about 3 hours covering a little over 160 miles.

Another historical note: The only other time I have been to West Virginia was also related to my employment at Penton when I went to Parkersburg in northwestern West Virginia. That was before I became involved in family history and knew about Ritchie County and the homestead of Daniel S. VanCourt (MJ’s great grandfather) and his large family. Sadly, we never visited any distant relatives in West Virginia.

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