It is the unique goal of travel adventurers to visit all fifty states in America. To boost this objective, each week we shall explore one state. Alphabetically, the 48th to visit is none other than West Virginia, abbreviated WV. Regardless of the order in which you explore them, the Mountain State is truly “almost Heaven.”
|State Motto||Montani semper liberi (Mountaineers are always free)|
|State Bird||Northern cardinal|
|State Gem||Silicified Mississippian Fossil Coral|
|Famous Foods||Pepperoni rolls, maple syrup, golden delicious apples, black walnuts, strawberries, ramps, honey, molasses, buckwheat pancakes, apple butter, “roadkill” and wild game, WV slaw dogs and more!|
West Virginia is a landlocked U.S. state and is the only one that rests entirely within the Appalachian Mountain region of the central-eastern U.S. mainland. It borders the Commonwealths of Pennsylvania to the north, Virginia to the east, and Kentucky to the southwest. West Virginia is noted for its rolling mountains, hills, and valleys, and breathtaking views, earning it’s title, ‘The Mountain State.’ In terms of size compared with other U.S. states, West Virginia would fit into Texas eleven times. Despite this fact, it is almost three times the size of New Jersey and about half the size of Mississippi.
This picturesque state holds a rich history. The settlement of present-day West Virginia began in the mid-1700s with the arrival of Scotch-Irish and German settlers from Pennsylvania. These groups settled in areas currently known as Berkeley and Greenbriar counties. Heavy settlement began in the 1760s after Indian claims had been settled. The state became one of two American states that formed during the American Civil War. However, it was the only one to form from another state during that time, splitting from Virginia. West Virginia was officially admitted to as a state in 1863.
There are many wonderful natural attractions in West Virginia that attract outdoor adventurers. Blackwater Falls State Park, located in the Allegheny Mountains of Tucker County, earned its name for the dark waters of the Blackwater River, colored by a combination of tannic acid from fallen hemlock and red spruce needles. Visitors can climb steps to viewing platforms to the nearly 60-foot cascade. Watch the dark waters rush over sandstone ledges on a journey through an eight-mile gorge. The park boasts 20 miles of hiking trails and the longest sledding magic-carpet on the East Coast in the winter.
The small town of Berkely Springs, located in Morgan County, features natural hot springs and places to shop, play, dine and stay. Historically speaking, the warm mineral waters were frequented by Native Americans long before Europeans arrived in the New World. This grew into a mountain spa community in West Virginia’s eastern panhandles. Medicine Springs, as it was originally titled, was first drawn on a 1747 map drawn by Thomas Jefferson’s father. The warm waters provided health relief for those suffering from various medical conditions. George Washington first visited in 1748 and his fondness of the area made it a resort getaway for Washington’s family. In fact, Washington and his family and friends owned land in the town, named streets, and incorporated the Town of Bath – which evolved into Berkely Springs. Folks are still attracted to the springs, the friendly town spirit, fabulous resorts, and its importance today as an art community.
In addition to natural attractions, West Virginia boasts important historical sites, such as Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. This family-friendly destination is rich in hiking trails, museums, and living history presentations. Harper’s Ferry sits in the northern corner of the Shenandoah Valley, where the Shenandoah River meets the Potomac. It was the site of abolitionist John Brown’s raid on the United States arsenal in 1859, an event that hastened the onset of the Civil War. The town center is part of the park and features preserved sites from the industrial era of the mid-1800s. The historic Lower Town is a must-see destination, featuring quaint buildings, coffee shops, museums, and St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church. The church was the only one in Harper’s Ferry to escape destruction during the war and is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
West Virginia features a mix of natural attractions, historic sites, fabulous accommodations, educational museums, outdoor recreational areas, and more. The state boasts six national parks that help preserve the region’s natural beauty and provide homes to wildlife, such as black bears, bobcats, coyotes, deer, fishers, otters, squirrels, and other species. A trip to West Virginia is awe-inspiring, so it’s not surprising that George Washington and his family sought to own a chunk of land in this mountainous state. Visitors will be delighted to explore the “country roads” that John Denver so emotionally sang about in a ballad bearing the same name.
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