WEST VIRGINIA TOURIST INFORMATION: (800) 225-5982
Statehouse, Charleston (304) 558-3809
Completed in 1932 by noted architect, Cass Gilbert, this classical Renaissance statehouse was the sixth building to serve as West Virginia's Capitol. The great Kanawha River flows quietly at the foot of the grand entrance to this glistening white building. Rising 300-feet above the river, a gold dome crowns a circular colonnade of Corinthian columns and casts a bronze glow in the river as the water mirrors its image in golden ripples. The grounds leading to the river's edge are beautifully maniucured, giving the appearance of a great plantation. Inside the building are unadorned walls of Italian white marble, highlighted by rows of elegant torche lights lining the hallways and the glow from the 96-lights of the center chandelier made of Czechoslovakian chrystal and weighing 4,000 pounds.
State History Museum, Charleston (304) 558-0220
The Cultural Center on the grounds of the Capitol Complex is an enormous building housing the State History Museum, State Archives, and History Library, as well as hosting various arts and performing arts exhibits. The State History Museum, located in the basement, tells the story of West Virginia statehood -- the only state born of the Civil War. The museum features: various types of coal and the natural locations within the state, replicas of a Coal Mine Town's Company Store, an 1840's Appalachian Log Cabin, and artifacts from West Virginia's glass-blowing industry as well as a colorful display of it's finished products.
Midland Trail Scenic Highway, (Route 60), Charleston (304) 344-5075
Beginnning in Charleston and ending in White Sulpher Springs, this country road hugs the Kanawha River as it winds it way past historic sites, through West Virginia countryside and former coal mining towns, ending in White Sulpher Springs, the historic spa for 18th, 19th and 20th century dignitaries.
Gauley Bridge -- The scene of heavy fighting during the Civil War, the old bridge for which the town is named was destroyed in 1861 during a Confederate retreat. The old piers are still visible upstream from the new Gauley Bridge.
Hawks Nest State Park -- In the heart of whitewater country, this state park offers fantastic panoramic views of the New River and Hawks Nest Lake.
Lewisburg -- The town is named in honor of General Andrew Lewis who organized the Virginia militia in 1774 and led his troops to victory in the Battle of Point Pleasant, claimed to be the first official battle of the American Revolution. Lewisburg also saw action in the Civil War when Union and Confederate forces clashed in May 1862. Although the Union won the battle, the town remained a Confederate outpost for the remainder of the war. Battle scars remain on some of the buildings in this quaint historic town. Today these old buildings contain antique shops, unique clothing stores and restaurants. The town even has its own "Carnegie Hall" built in 1902 by the famous steel magnate.
White Sulpher Springs -- dominating this town is the enormous and luxurious Greenbriar Resort where the wealthy southerners of the18th, 19th and 20th century came to take their cures. Among other dignitaries around the globe, the resort claims 22 US Presidents as former guests.
New River Gorge National River, Fayetteville (304) 465-0508
The New River Gorge is just a few miles outside of the adorable little town of Fayetteville which has a unique restaurant on just about every corner, including an old steepled church-turned-restaurant. The National River Recreation Area is noted for its fantastic whitewater recreational facilities, but it's also a great place for fishing, hiking, camping, rock climbing and picnicking along the New River -- which is really quite old -- approximiately 65 million years old. The amazing story of this recreation area is that it was once a major coal mining town. After King Coal died the area fell to neglect with the refuse of old mining machinery, tenement housing and dilapitated processing plants, littering the countryside. The National Park did a fantastic job of restoring the area to its natural beauty. Only the newly restored Thurmond Train Depot reveals its past.
Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine, Beckley (304) 256-1747
A veteran miner guides tourists into the depths of this 100-year-old coal mine, through a maze of black tunnels where early coal miners labored in perpetual darkness, danger and debt. There are four stops on the tour, beginning with an 1890 miner's workstation and the tools he would have used, as well as an account of the salary he would have made and how he would have had to earn his wages. The next stops proceed through in 30-year intervals of the progression of the miner's working conditions. Also on the grounds is a restored "coal camp" consisting of the typical living quarters for a single man and a family man. Each miner paid two dollars per room per month. The single man had a one-room shanty for two dollars; the family man could have as many as three rooms, including a kitchen, for six dollars a month. A beautiful Victorian mansion, also restored, shows where the superintendent lived. The museum and gift store inside showcases books, photographs, artifacts, and newspaper accounts of various pivotal moments in mining history. This carefully designed complex tells a complete and fair story of the mining industry from the company's point of view and from the miner's point of view.
Check it out: The retired miners and other volunteers do *all* the restoration work.
OUR CAMPSITE FOR THE WEEK
Our hosts preferred the campground not be listed. If you would like to know the name of this campground, send us Email or use our site contact form.