West Virginia Department of Commerce The Mountain State Has Reason to Celebrate!

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The Mountain State Has Reason to Celebrate!

West Virginia Travel Journal

The Mountain State boasts 150 years of history that defines the character and true spirit of the Mountaineers.  That spirit in turn is drawn from our majestic mountains and the magnificent terrain which whisper tales from countless millennia.

Oil & Gas Museum, ParkersburgOil & Gas Museum, Parkersburg

Catching a glimpse of West Virginia at the dawn of time is an easy stroll down a forest path at the State Museum in Charleston.

Tucked inside the Culture Center just steps away from the gleaming gold-domed State Capitol, the museum’s interactive exhibits depict West Virginia’s journey through the ages – from 300 million B.C. to the present.

Elsewhere around the state, evidence of the early indigenous Adena people is found at Criel Mound in South Charleston, as well as in Moundsville’s 2,000-year-old Grave Creek burial mound complex, which features the Delf Norona Museum and West Virginia Archaeology Center.

Delve into the hardscrabble pioneer lifestyle at Prickett’s Fort State Park, a recreated 1774 refuge fort, as well as at preserved homesteads at Tu-Endie-Wei and Watters Smith Memorial state parks.

A state born from a nation torn

By splitting from Virginia, West Virginia became the only state formed by secession from the Confederacy.

Wheeling’s federal custom house, where the political drama unfolded in 1863, is now West Virginia Independence Hall. You can tour the beautifully restored National Historic Landmark where exhibits, including a collection of rare Civil War flags, illustrate this turbulent period.

Explore fascinating sites on West Virginia’s Civil War Trail, including Harpers Ferry National Historical Park (where abolitionist John Brown seized a federal arsenal in 1859 to arm a slave uprising) along with battlefields, historic homes and Camp Allegheny, a Confederate stronghold where Gen. Robert E. Lee set up camp.

Abundant resources led to a 19th century boom in timber, oil, gas, glass making and – above all – coal mining. A lavish lifestyle for barons of the coal industry soon followed, and you can still see their Victorian homes today along “Millionaire’s Row” in Bramwell – once the wealthiest town in America, per capita – and in historic neighborhoods in Wheeling.

Honoring Our Past – Cherishing the Present – Celebrating the Future.

Dig deeper into the state’s industrial past at the Oil & Gas Museum in Parkersburg, Fostoria Glass Museum in Moundsville and Weston’s Museum of American Glass. Key attractions on the scenic Coal Heritage Trail include the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine and historic Matewan, site of the infamous shootout between union organizers and coal company detectives.

Railroads, of course, provided vital transportation for industry, and many of those trains – including rare antique steam locomotives like the Shay at Cass Scenic Railroad State Park – now carry visitors on journeys of discovery through spectacular scenery and historic villages.

West Virginia has an outstanding history of military service. As Mountaineers are loyal sons and daughters to their state, they are equally dedicated in service to America. Military museums in towns throughout the state honor those who served from the Civil War to modern conflicts – from Rosie the Riveters to battlefields on the frontlines, West Virginians never waver, nor hesitate to heed the call.  

A Birthday 150 Years in the Making

The calendar may say 2013, but we’re going to party like it’s 1863!

West Virginia marks its 150th birthday this year.  Cities and towns around the state are making plans to celebrate the strength, resilience, ingenuity and commitment to the formation of our beloved home. Lectures, reenactments, parades, social gatherings, and performances in song, dance and theater will be just some of the ways West Virginians will present our vast and rich heritage.  Be sure to catch some of these special sesquicentennial events taking place throughout the year. Events will be added to the calendar of events at wvtourism.com as they are received. Participate in your communities special celebrations. Circle June 20th on your calendar.  It’s going to be the best birthday ever!