Travel day to Beckley, West Virginia and the heart of Coal Country. The key to this region’s past, present and future is tied to its rivers, its mountains, its coal and its railroads. The Greenbrier and New Rivers link, creating geographic and historic bonds between communities and eras.
This morning, travel north to witness one of man’s finest engineering achievements, set amidst some of Mother Nature’s most beautiful work, the New River Gorge Bridge and Visitor’s Center. The Canyon Rim Visitors Center offers a stunning view of the New River Gorge, with whitewater rapids and the C&O Railroad coursing nearly 900 feet below. Still more breathtaking scenery awaits you at Hawks Nest State Park where an aerial tram will carry you to a jet boat ride into the New River Gorge. After lunch and a short drive, crossing the Summersville Dam, explore Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park, site of a major Civil War battle in 1861.
Today’s first stop will take you underground with a retired coal miner as your guide at the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine. The area includes a new interpretative center in the Coal Company Store, a coal miner’s house, the company church, the superintendent’s house and a one room school brought from an original coal camp. Don’t forget to explore the Mountain Homestead and Youth Museum next door. The Youth Museum includes a gallery, planetarium, and science area. The Mountain Homestead has an authentic one room schoolhouse, weavers shed, blacksmith shop and log house. Lunch will be at “Taste of West Virginia” Food Court at TAMARACK: The Best of West Virginia. Operated by The Greenbrier, the food court has something for everyone’s taste buds. Spend the afternoon exploring and shopping at TAMARACK. This is West Virginia’s premier tourist center, featuring West Virginia made products and craft demonstrations. There is a theater, gallery, festivals and nature trails on site. This evening enjoy a performance of Theatre West Virginia (June - August) at the Cliffside Amphitheater in Grandview Park or Historic Fayette Theatre.
Step back into history today as you explore the historic town of Lewisburg. Here you’ll find many buildings from the 1800s such as the Old Stone Church, in continuous use since 1796. The town, designated as a National Historic District, offers shopping for art, antiques, rare books, collectibles, gifts, fashions and accessories. Go underground at Lost World Caverns, a registered natural landmark, with a single awe-inspiring room approximately 1,000 feet long and 75 feet wide, before heading to Hinton. Created when the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad bought land and laid out the town in 1871, Hinton became a boom town in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and the brick streets which were laid in 1905 remain today. The Railroad Museum contains memorabilia of a bygone era. Enjoy dinner in historic Bramwell, the home of the Pocahontas Coalfield owners.
Relax and enjoy the drive home along the Midland Trail Scenic Highway with memories of West Virginia and plans to return again soon.