By Tricia Sizemore
While some are just beginning to lay a foundation for their future in West Virginia, others have called the Mountain State their home for generations. Here, West Virginians’ past, present and future are woven together to enhance the state’s unique culture, including heritage arts, historical sites and railroads.
For instance, West Virginia has a rich history of glassmaking. Companies like Wilkerson Glass make up the more than 500 factories that have manufactured glass throughout the state’s history.
Inspired by a trip to Spain in his sophomore year at West Virginia University and a guitar maker, Andrew White started building his first guitar in his basement efficiency apartment in 1999. More than a decade after arriving in Morgantown, his company, Andrew White Guitars, is thriving and selling high-quality, handcrafted guitars.
Civil War sites
West Virginia is rich in historic and notable sites. The state’s history lives on in more than 20 Civil War sites that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, in addition to 15 Civil War Discovery Trail stops.
Coming home to build a future
Generation after generation has influenced West Virginia’s history and future. Keith Pauley and Nancy McCoy Sostaric are prime examples of natives returning home to build a future.
A sixth-generation West Virginian, Pauley’s family lineage traces to the 1760s, when his ancestors fought in the Battle of Point Pleasant and later marched with George Washington. After living out of state for 20 years, he returned with his family to Charleston, where he is currently president of South Charleston’s Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research & Innovation Center.
Sostaric was born and raised in the coalfields of the Appalachian Mountains and still has ties to West Virginia and Matewan. After leaving West Virginia for more than 20 years to live and work in Washington, D.C., she returned to her native state with her husband to establish a bed & breakfast in the Eastern Panhandle.
Calling West Virginia home for generations
While some West Virginians are realizing the need to come home after leaving the Mountain State, others have lived here for years. Arden “Jamie” Cogar Jr.’s family has called the state their home for generations. He was born into a logging family in Webster County, who first settled in the mountains of West Virginia just before the Civil War. Today, he is a senior associate at MacCorkle, Lavender & Sweeney, a law firm with offices in Charleston and Morgantown, and a top-ranked lumberjack sports competitor.
Trains were essential in the transportation of West Virginia’s abundance of coal and lumber. A prime example is the historic town of Cass in Pocahontas County. It was originally owned and operated by the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company in the early 1900s. Once logging production declined and railroad operation halted, visionaries, rail enthusiasts and local businessmen saw the potential for turning the logging town into a state park and tourist attraction. Today, Cass Scenic Railroad State Park draws thousands of visitors from all over the country.
Keeping the state’s role in the railroad industry alive, CSX Transportation recently announced the establishment of a new dispatching center at its division headquarters in Huntington. CSX is investing approximately $4.5 million to create a state-of-the-art facility and it is relocating 80 train dispatchers to the city.
West Virginia’s wild, wonderful and enthralling history allows residents and visitors alike to expand their understanding of the state’s past and present and provides them with a glimpse into what the future holds for generations to come. As celebrated historian Kenneth Stampp wrote, “Knowledge of the past is key to understanding the present.” This is certainly true of the Mountain State and its residents.