Wandering Around America One State at a Time – West Virginia

State 43:

Welcome to the next post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride!

I will be featuring the states alphabetically. The next state in my series is

West Virginia

West Virginia became the 35th state on June 20, 1863. The Capital is Charleston.

Almost heaven, West Virginia,
Blue ridge mountain, Shenandoah river,
Life is old there, older than the trees,
Younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze

– from “Country Roads, Take Me Home” by John Denver

West Virginia is in my blood. My father grew up in a farm house high up in the southern part of the West Virginia Appalachian Mountains during the depression. Way back in the 1700’s my ancestors settled in the part of Virginia that later became West Virginia. Every year of my childhood my brothers and I climbed in the back seat of our family station wagon to travel up the narrow, winding roads up the mountain to spend a week at my grandparent’s house where my father grew up.

I’ve only traveled to West Virginia a few times in my adult life. Over 20 years ago Henry and I traveled to Pence Springs to attend a family reunion. The beautiful old Pence Springs Grand Hotel was our home for the reunion. Through the years the building has been a girl’s school, a resort, and a women’s prison. Since our stay there it has reverted back to a girl’s school.

Pence Springs Grand Hotel
Pence Springs Grand Hotel

The campground at Pipestem Resort State Park was our home for several days of exploring southern West Virginia. Located on the east rim of the Bluestone River Gorge, this scenic park was perfectly located for day trips all around the area.

An aerial tramway takes visitors to the bottom of the 1,200 foot Bluestone Gorge in Pipestem State Park
It’s a long way down to the Bluestone River

One of my ancestors,  Col. James Graham built this home in 1772. One of the oldest and most historic homes in West Virginia, The Graham House Preservation Society maintains the house and tours are available.

Graham House, Summers County
Graham House, Summers County

The New River is one of the oldest rivers on the continent and is one of the few that flows north. Biking trails, hiking trails, and white water rafting are popular activities in The New River Gorge National River. The New River Gorge Bridge is the longest single-span steel arch bridge in the world. We stopped at a few of the overlooks in the park for spectacular views of the river.

The New River flows north
Bridges over the New River
Sandstone Falls on the New River
New River Gorge Bridge is the longest single-span steel arch bridge in the world

We enjoyed walking around historic Hinton and took a drive to the Bluestone Dam.

Bluestone Dam
Bluestone Dam
Hinton, WV Courthouse
John Henry Statue, Talcott, West Virginia

After leaving Pipestem State Park our travels took us through Charleston where we passed by the state capitol on the way through the city.

State capital in Charleston, West Virginia

In another part of West Virginia we toured parts of Harpers Ferry National Historic Park. We were camped at the Harpers Ferry / Civil War Battlefields KOA and took a ranger guided tour of the battlefield at Murphy Farm where Confederate Soldiers captured over 12,000 Union soldiers in September, 1862.

Confederate soldiers climbed up this bank with cannons of the Shenandoah River at the Murphy Farm

Next we strolled around the historic buildings in the town of Harpers Ferry. John Brown’s raid took place here in 1859 and the town changed hands about 8 times during the Civil War. The town is located at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers.  These days it is a popular place for tubing, kayaking and fishing.

Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, West Virginia
John Brown’s Fort at Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, West Virginia
Harpers Ferry
The Shenandoah River at Harpers Ferry is a popular place for tubing an kayaking
Harpers Ferry

To read previous posts about the states featured in this series just click on the state name: Alabama      Alaska      Arizona      Arkansas      California      Colorado     Florida      Georgia      Hawaii        Idaho  Illinois      Indiana      Iowa     Kansas     Kentucky     Louisiana     Maine     Maryland     Massachusetts     Michigan     Minnesota    Mississippi     Missouri     Montana     Nebraska     Nevada      New Hampshire     New Mexico      New York     North Carolina    North Dakota      Ohio     Oklahoma     Oregon     Pennsylvania    South Carolina     South Dakota     Tennessee     Texas     Utah     Virginia   Washington

14 thoughts on “Wandering Around America One State at a Time – West Virginia

  1. Wow – you left one of the best for last. 🙂 Who needs Ancestry.com when you have this kind of family history – amazing. You also captured some wonderful photos – the bridge is card worthy. I think I need to put West Virginia on my must see list. It is beautiful and full of history. 🙂

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  2. Stopped by the New River Gorge bridge twice this summer on my way to upstate New York: loved the Visitor Center. The ranger gave my husband a CD, and we did a drive-through tour of the park (unfortunately, it was quite foggy that day, but we still were glad we took the time). Maybe some day I’ll get back to WV to explore some of the beautiful places in your pictures.

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  3. I was especially glad to see the photos of Harpers Ferry. I guess I didn’t realize it would be so quaint. I know it is a starting point for many attempting to the the Appalachian Trail. Very pretty there.

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