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My recent Eastern 26 trip took me through West Virginia. Here’s a link to the post about the entire journey. And ‘this-here’ post contains a dozen reasons to love WV! While I did spend two overnights, much of it resulted in driving through mountains. Interestingly, I saw the Moth Man, New River Gorge National Park, the state capital, many mountain roads, and the Green Bank Radio Observatory. More on that later.
I crossed the border from Ohio and spent a night just inside West Virginia. Of course, I immediately headed out the following day. On this trip, I spent two nights in the state.
- The Mothman – Another of A dozen reasons to visit WV!
- West Virginia State Capitol – another of A dozen reasons to love WV!
- New River Gorge National Park
- Greenbriar – White Sulphur Springs – Another of A dozen reasons to love WV!
- Elkins WV
- Greenbank Radio Observatory – Another of A dozen reasons to love WV!
- John Brown Memorial – Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
- University of West Virginia
- Appalachian Mountain Roads
- Quirky Locations not visited – a few more of A dozen reasons to love WV!
After leaving Ohio, I entered West Virginia at day’s end and spent the night in small-town Parkersburg. Not much to see here, but the scenery is incredible! I continued “down the road” to visit the myth of the Mothman. But you’ve got to enter a state someplace, right?
By the way, the picture is from my Canva Pro subscription. I couldn’t find a good place to shoot one myself.
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The Mothman – Another of A dozen reasons to visit WV!
In 1966 and 1967, strange sights, such as flashing lights, mysterious “men in black,” and the Mothman, reportedly appeared in the TNT area. But it’s near Point Pleasant, WV. Interestingly, that’s the site of a munitions plant during World War II. On December 15, 1967, the Silver Bridge in the area collapsed, killing 46 people. The Mothman became connected to the collapse.
The reports include a man-size bird with a 10-foot wingspan. Finally, in 2003, Point Pleasant unveiled a 12-foot metallic statue of the Mothman. In 2005, the Mothman Museum and Research Center opened. And in 2002, Point Pleasant started the Mothman festival during the 3rd weekend in September. Of course, most sightings come from people who believe in paranormal activities! Of course, this is another of A dozen reasons to love WV!
West Virginia State Capitol – another of A dozen reasons to love WV!
Charleston, WV, hosts the state capitol. Sunday visiting didn’t happen, so I only have the outside picture. On a trip like I took, it’s impossible to see everything. Planning for everything becomes impossible with a journey of this length and COVID thrown in. The Charleston metropolitan area includes nearly 150,000 people and is considered one of the best places to live in the state.
West Virginia became a state in 1863 as the counties that now make up WV remained loyal to the Union when the rest of Virginia seceded and joined the Confederacy. Although Wheeling, Charleston, Martinsburg, and Clarksburg all received consideration as the capital. Charleston won out in 1877. Several buildings housed the capitol until the new capitol building finally opened in 1932. The capitol stands next to the Kanawha river on the city’s eastern side.
New River Gorge National Park
But I need to move on to New River Gorge National Park.
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President Carter signed legislation in 1978, making it a National River. Later, in 2020, the National Park Service took it into the National Park System. It’s the 63rd and most recent National Park. The park protects 53 miles of the New River from North Carolina into West Virginia. From there, it flows into the Kanawha River, which continues into the Ohio River.
A distinguishing feature is the New River Gorge Bridge. The bridge opened in 1977 and cut the commute across the river from 45 minutes to two minutes! Before the bridge opened, drivers needed to wind their way down to a small bridge many feet below. After crossing the river, they rewind their way up to the top of the gorge on the other side. The top picture shows the new bridge. The bottom photo shows the old bridge. While it’s still usable, the new bridge is mainly used. Local traffic in the park uses the old bridge.
The second picture shows one of many beautiful views of the National Park. Typical for National Parks, hiking and camping are popular. The river offers arguably the best white water rafting east of the Mississippi River! And one of a dozen reasons to love WV!
Greenbriar – White Sulphur Springs – Another of A dozen reasons to love WV!
The Greenbriar in White Sulphur Spring opened for guests in 1778. Today, the Greenbriar continues to be known as one of the most incredible luxury resorts in the world. Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains in picturesque White Sulphur Springs, the resort continues to entertain royalty, celebrities, and business leaders.
The guest list includes 28 US Presidents. The hotel offers 710 guest rooms and suites. And the resort consists of 55 activities to entertain you while visiting. The Greenbriar made it to the National Registry of Historic Places. I don’t know if you must show your balance sheet to stay there! However, the resort draws many business conferences. I attended one back in the 1980s! So, that conference became the main reason for me to drive through this area and see it again.
Meanwhile, should I say this again? On of A dozen reasons to love WV!
Elkins provides hotel rooms for the area. The city offers a historic mountain oasis, outdoor fun, and beautiful art. Located on the edge of the Monongahela National Forest, the town offers plenty of play opportunities in the mountains. Luxury hotels abound. I did spend the night, but not in a luxury hotel!
Greenbank Radio Observatory – Another of A dozen reasons to love WV!
Greenbank Radio Telescope
The Greenbank Telescope (GBT) remains the premier single-dish radio telescope in the world. It started operating in 2001, replacing a telescope that collapsed in 1988. The cost came to $95,000,000! The observatory lies in the US National Radio Quiet Zone. The Zone includes about 13,000 square miles in Virginia and West Virginia. It’s designated as such to allow scientific research and gathering of military intelligence.
Regulations severely restrict all electromagnet radiation, including microwave ovens, WiFi routers, and faulty electrical equipment. Cell phone use in the core of the Zone is also highly restricted. The strictest restrictions are imposed within a 20-mile radius of the Green Bank Observatory. In fact, in Zone 1, immediately around the telescope, only diesel-powered vehicles are allowed. Gasoline engines create electromagnetic emissions. This zone’s rules and regulations about electromagnetic emissions are stringent and complicated.
More about the GBT
The telescope weighs almost 17 million pounds and stands about 485 feet above the ground. The GBT’s diameter is 330 feet.
When touring the area, we left our cell phones and cameras in the car, and they even locked my Fitbit watch in a Faraday box (to prevent signal emission.) As sensitive as the GBT is, the demand spirals up every year. For each hour available for science, three to four hours are requested. The GBT operates 24 hours per day and 362 days per year.
Initially, the GBT was owned by the National Science Foundation. Now, funding comes from colleges and universities, the NSF, the state of West Virginia, and the US military. By the way, a Navy friend of mine did this type of work for his career. I don’t know if he ever visited here, but I’d bet he did. He traveled around the world for his job. But he lived in Fairbanks, AK, for much of his working life.
John Brown Memorial – Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
John Brown lived before the Civil War and became an activist abolitionist. He and his men believed in attacking military targets to protest slavery. In his early life, he made a living with a successful tannery. He also studied the Gospel and became an evangelical pastor. He married twice (his first wife died) and fathered 20 children.
In 1849, he dedicated his life to ending slavery in the US. He ran his campaign in Pennsylvania and Ohio by offering free housing to and hid runaway enslaved people. He fought slavery in Kansas and West Virginia (at the time, it was Virginia.) Finally, in 1859, he led a rebellion (intending enslaved people to join him) against a federal armory in Harpers Ferry. During the uprising, seven people were killed and ten or more injured.
As a result, he was charged with treason, murder, and inciting a slave rebellion. His trial received national publicity. Regardless, the jury found him guilty, and the state executed him by hanging on December 2, 1859. His actions became one of the driving forces behind the secession of the southern states and the US Civil War.
He became alternately described as a heroic martyr and visionary and as a madman and terrorist. Unfortunately, I missed this one during my visit. But, it’s still one of A dozen reasons to love WV!
University of West Virginia
Another stop that I missed was the University of West Virginia in Morgantown. Besides, Morgantown and much of West Virginia are very picturesque and worth visiting on a road trip. In truth, on a journey like mine, you can’t see everything!
Appalachian Mountain Roads
I drove through miles of roads like this. After reviewing my pictures, I believe my Canva Pro subscription gave me a better view. Not to mention, I did see many scenes like this in many of the eastern states I visited, but West Virginia has miles and miles of views like this. In fact, southeastern Ohio has roads like this as well.
Remember, you can see many views like this in many states on road trips! Of course, those making more than a dozen reasons to love WV!
Quirky Locations not visited – a few more of A dozen reasons to love WV!
- World’s Largest Teapot – Chester
- Hillbilly Hotdogs – Lesage
- West Virginia Roadkill Cook-off – Marlinton
- Lake Shawnee Amusement Park – Rock
- And there, that wraps up a dozen reasons to love WV.
Classic Rock Recollection
“Lean on Me” by Bill Withers
Lean on me
When you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on…
For it won’t be long
Till I’m gonna need somebody to lean on
Written by: Bill Withers (He’s from West Virginia.)