100 Great Things about West Virginia
(more or less)
We spent eleven wonderful days in West Virginia – eastern
West Virginia – in June / July 2011. Here are some of the great things we
- We went for the reenactment of the Battle of Corricks
Ford. William Corrick was Mike’s great-great-great grandfather. He owned
property near Parsons, WV. As the Confederates retreated at the end of the
Battle of Rich Mountain, there was a battle, or skirmish, between ten
Confederate infantrymen holding the rear line with their general, Garnett
and the pursuing Union forces. The general was killed. His body was
brought into the Corrick home. The home was used as a field hospital. The
reenactment was great!
- My grandfather, Gerald B. Corrick, told a story about
the family being chased up the hill when the battle broke out and that the
dining room table was hit by gunfire. Sure enough, Melanie, a cousin has
the table! It has a bullet hole and corresponding damage to the leg from
what looks like a Minnie ball hit!
Parsons is a nice, small town. Check
out the Railroad Depot and railroad bridge turned into a pedestrian bridge.
- The folks in WV are just about 100% friendly! We had
a great time! (There’s only one exception we noted during our entire stay!)
- The WV State Parks are fantastic!
6. Blackwater Falls State Park is one with an
amber-colored water fall.
7. The food at the Battle of Corricks Ford reenactment was
amazingly good. We’d strongly recommend the crab cakes from Parsons
Country Inn and the chicken
from the local service club.
cabin at Watoga State Park
cabin at Babcock State Park
- The cabins in the WV State Parks are fantastic!
Several have old CCC cabins which are really wonderful pieces of stone and
log construction. Try for last-minute one-night stays at the parks: we
were able to get five such nights at different parks with no advance
9. At some of the cabins and state park restaurants,
you'll find state china! It's reminiscent of railroad china -- much fun!
if you save these images, you can print them
out full size
- There is a VIPP (Very Important Parks Person) program
in which you get a card from the State Parks in Charleston, WV. Write in
advance. As you visit parks, look for the VIPP box which is usually just
outside the main office’s front door. Stamp your card with the rubber stamp
inside the box. Collect 15 required plus 5 optional stamps and you’ll get a
free jacket! Get your card in advance of heading to WV.
- The airport at Charleston is about the easiest to
manage anywhere! The luggage claim conveyor is probably 20’ from the car
rental desks. They have about 25 car rentals at Enterprise each day, so you
won’t be “lost in the crowd!” There is a tax of $10+ per day for rentals at
the airport, so that can add up!
The airport is on top
of a mountain that was flattened out. It's really an amazing place to fly
There's also a military operation at the airport, so it's interesting to see the
If you’re going to stay in Parsons, WV, look up Irene's Place
the bed and breakfast run by folks involved in the local historical society.
The rate is around $65 per night for a whole house!
- The geology of WV is very interesting: the
Appalachians were created long ago as sedimentary rocks, then as the land
rose and the rivers cut them, long, narrow, north-south mountains remained.
Much of traveling this part of the country is going up to 4,000’ and then
down to 2,000’.
- The rivers often flow north! That’s a really
surprising idea for us! Several of the rivers flow north to ultimately join
the Ohio River, then the Mississippi River to finally get to the Gulf of
- Often river names change when they join! Thus the
Blackwater and Dry Fork become the Black Fork after they join. The Black
Fork and the Shavers Fork become the Cheat after they join! While the Cheat
dumps into the Monongahela, where the Monongahela and Allegheny join, they
become the Ohio River.
- What we (in the western US) know as a “pass” is called a “gap” in WV.
What we call a river is a "run."
- The Pocahontas Demonstration Mine is in Virginia, but
barely so. It’s definitely worth a detour! This is a walk-through mine
because it had 12’ high coal seams. The tour led by a retired miner is
quite good. The “exhibits” need a great deal of work!
- The Beckley Demonstration Mine is run by the city of
Beckley. It’s a great tour of a much narrower seam that’s been opened up a
bit so regular tourists can ride through in a “coal train.” The Beckley
Mine operation includes a good, small museum and several restored
buildings: a single miner’s cabin, a family cabin, the superintendent’s
home , a school and a church – all well worth visiting.
- One of the best parts of the Beckley Mine tour is the
opportunity to see and operate(!) a carbide lamp. I had seen these for
decades, but never seen one operate. Not only that, the guide lets guests
light and operate the lamp!
- The WV food item of note is supposed to be Pepperoni
Rolls, a strip of pepperoni inside a baked bread wrapping. We didn’t find
any, so will have to look for them on another trip.
- The Tamarack gallery that sells all sorts of West
Virginia creations is an interesting building and has interesting stuff for
sale. There is also a café that looked quite good and had some unusual
offerings such as catfish.
- In the coal mines, it’s interesting to see the old
shafts created by trees which rotted and were replaced by other minerals.
These casts were quite dangerous to miners because they could suddenly slip
down upon men in the mines.
- The New River Gorge Bridge is really interesting. At
880’ over the river (4 times the height of the Golden Gate Bridge), it’s
really “up there.” The walk along the catwalk would be interesting, but at
$74 or so, that’s too much.
- The trip down to Thurmond is a good one. The NPS
rangers say don’t try to drive up the east side, although it shows on a
number of maps. Park at the depot which holds the visitors’ center: do not
drive to the historic buildings, walk instead. Thurmond is at lat /
lon 37.957214 / -81.078954.
When you get down to the New River headed to Thurmond, head straight across the
river. Don't head to the right. There is another bridge 1-3/4 miles
further upstream (to the right), but that's not the bridge you want. The
bridge to Thurmond can be obscured by a parked train, as in this photo.
The bridge is a
great combined auto and train bridge.
- At the Grandview Overlook, there are really three
different spots to stop to see the Gorge. The northern-most of the three
has a very surprising cool air vent.
- The new Boy Scout camp is being constructed. You can
get to the gate and get a photo, but that’s about as far as you can get!
Look for this entrance near Glen Jean at lat / lon 37.924248 / -81.153148.
This old bank building is a prominent feature of Glen Jean at lat / lon
37.928321 / -81155604.
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© Michael Von der Porten
05/22/12 12:20:35 AM