Get Out There

Country Roads Take Us to West Virginia

As we pull into the mountain state, we’ll be belting out the John Denver song. It’s going to be in the 50s this weekend, and we want to get out and see the sights in the gorgeous state that inspired the perennial favorite song. While we will be checking out the Shenandoah River and the Blue Ridge Mountains, we want to visit some cool tourist spots too.

The New River Gorge Bridge Walk isn’t quite our speed. People rave about seeing the New River from above but, even with a harness, we don’t want to walk a two-foot-wide catwalk for over 3,000 feet! Instead, we’ll be taking a relaxing ride through the beautiful nature of the state on the Cass Scenic Railroad. There is an informative narration as you travel up the side of a mountain!

Spending a little time on the Appalachian Trail, we’ll visit Harpers Ferry, where the Abolitionist John Brown famously raided the federal armory. The town played a large part in the Civil War, and we’re eager to visit and learn more about our country’s history.  

We’ll hit the road to take a picture with the Big Apple Time Capsule, filled with artifacts of the town and not to be opened until 2040. From there, we will head to the World’s Largest Teapot. Very occasionally, it opens to sell drinks and snacks. If it’s not open when we get there, we’ll still enjoy the photo opportunity and learning a little about the spot from the signs around it. Then we’ll swing by the West Virginia State Farm Museum, with 50 acres of land, their mission is to preserve the state’s farming heritage. It has 36 buildings, a church with a gun rack and the world’s largest taxidermy horse, General. In life, General was both the third takes and third heaviest horse ever recorded. Once stuffed, he took on his new title.

We’ll head underground to learn more about coal mining. The Exhibition Coal Mine takes you on a trolley ride through a historic mine to see how mines were constructed and just how dark they are. They also have a gift shop fresh fudge it’s located to the Youth Museum of Southern West Virginia and the Mountain Homestead—replete with eight rebuilt historical buildings where visitors learn about settlement life in the Appalachian area.

Finally, we love local urban legends. Part of what makes America such a wonderful place to explore is that there is so much regional culture. Different states have all sorts of monsters lurking just out of sight. West Virginia has the Mothman. Point Pleasant has a fabulous statue dedicated to the beast that we really want to see. On the same street, you can visit the Mothman Museum to learn all about people’s encounters with the creature. If you drive six miles down the road, you can visit the WWII era bunkers where the Mothman was first spotted. We might not go to the bunkers: they are located in the woods, and you have to cross private property to get there. But we are absolutely getting a photo with the statute and exploring the museum before leaving the state.  

Banner: New River Gorge Bridge from the overlook at the north end of the New River Gorge. Image: Shawn Ullerup, Wikimedia

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