West Virginia holds a very special place in the United States’ history. It’s the only state born of the Civil War. On June 20, 2013, West Virginia and its citizens will be celebrating their 150th birthday. Visitors to the Mountain State can relive the days of conflict at one of the Civil War re-enactments throughout the state with many including costumed re-enactors who set up traditional campsites and relive the battles. Some include special evening events, like Civil War Balls, and all offer visitors a look back in time.
Many African-American laborers moved to the state’s coal fields because the pay was good and the miners held the same social status as other immigrant and white laborers. In Talcott, visitors can see the infamous Big Bend Tunnel where John Henry, “the Steel Drivin’ Man,” pitted his strength against a new steam-powered drill in the race to build railroads across the country. Towns like Institute, Malden, Harpers Ferry, Parkersburg and Huntington offer tributes to some of this country’s finest black educators such as Booker T. Washington, Carter G. Woodson and W. E. B. DuBois.
Visitors can drive the Midland Trail and see remnants of the once-fabulous springs where wealthy patrons traveled by carriage, train and auto to rejuvenate in the mineral waters. The Greenbrier still offers the age-old spa treatments along with modern spa techniques to its guests. Along with its customary quality services, guests are reminded of a less friendly part of our history when they tour the Bunker, built as a safe haven for our country’s federal legislators during the Cold War.
West Virginia is rich in industrial heritage, and its visitors can tour family-owned glass factories that continue the tradition of producing fine hand-blown glass that is prized around the world. In southern West Virginia, visitors to the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine will want to take sweaters. The ride into a real underground mine drops 600 feet below the ground and the temperature won’t get above the 50s. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the advent of the railroad through Appalachia unlocked West Virginia’s buried natural treasures of coal, timber, natural gas and oil. Dozens of bustling towns popped up right next to the tracks as industrial prosperity flooded the hills. More than 100 years later, many of those boomtowns transformed to ghost towns and the chief mode of transportation became the automobile. Increasingly, tourists and adventure seekers have become the payload for scenic rides along formerly industrial tracks.
In West Virginia, music is part of life. Here, the American Mountain Theatre provides the best in family entertainment. From gospel to pop to everything in between, all enjoy this multi-talented extended family. Mountain Stage, the state’s live radio show, brings an eclectic blend of traditional and contemporary international musicians together weekly to share the wonders of music with a National Public Radio audience. Whether your taste runs to Appalachian traditional music that echoes the strains of the state’s Celtic, Scotch and British ancestry or the wonderful rhythms of African-American hymns and southern Gospel harmonies or the driving beat of true country and bluegrass sounds, there’s a place for you in West Virginia.
Chances are you’ll find what you are looking for any time of the year. Almost Heaven, Wild and Wonderful, call the Mountain State what you want, but always remember, we call it home.
For our State Travel Guide and more information, visit us at www.wvtourism.com or call 304-957-9334 or Toll Free: 800-225-5982.