The Civil War gave birth to this state. Trace the its history from the very first land battle in Phillipi, through secret backrooms where the strategies were crafted, and out across the once-roaring battlefields. Follow the stories of the spies whose intel turned the tides, the troops who revolutionized battle in the heat of its chaos, and the leaders who worked the political front in the push for West Virginia statehood.
COAL, RAILS & INDUSTRY
Our hardworking industries have long been the backbone of the nation’s energy, harboring timber, coal, oil and natural gas. Explore our rich mining heritage firsthand and ride a man car underground into an exhibition mine shaft. Or, uncover the relics of the coal boom, from the millionaire mansions of the former barons to the deteriorating, long-abandoned towns that were left behind after the bustle. Trains, too, came rolling to transport the precious fuel. Retrace the tracks along repurposed rail trails, or hop aboard a still-running vintage train for a ride and a rare glimpse at the state’s most remote scenery.
West Virginia heritage is truly one-of-a-kind. Secluded in not-quite-the-North and not-quite-the-South, our formative years were spent separated from the world by our rugged terrain. So we created our own lifestyle.
Here, we’re slow-paced to savor the little things. But while our folklife philosophy may be “simplicity,” our mountain culture is really quite intricate. Quilts are not just crafts, they’re family heirlooms and symbols of kinship. Our Appalachian recipes were passed down from grandma’s grandmas on notecards. Antiques tell stories of mountain resourcefulness— though they don’t tell it as well as a true West Virginia storyteller, or an old folk ballad.
This culture may be all our own, but we love to share it. Take it all in at the heritage museums, follow the quilt trails into the pastoral countryside, or just sit for a spell with your local pickers’ group.
Find historic sites to explore:
- The historical park celebrating the 1774 Battle of Point Pleasant and Mansion House Museum that was built in 1796. There is no admission fee. This facility is included in "A Guide to Accessible Recreation in West Virginia." Please check the Guide or the site for information on accessibility. Please note - a self-reporting survey was used to compile the information in this Guide; every attempt was made to verify the accuracy of the information but West Virginia Division of Tourism is not responsible for errors or inaccuracies.
- The only way to experience the enchantment of historic Blennerhassett Island is via a 20-minute sternwheeler ride. From Point Park in Parkersburg, 19th century-style riverboats ply the beautiful Ohio River, carrying passengers into a bygone era. Public excursions are available from May 1 through the last weekend of October on a varying schedule. Admission - Adults $8.00, Children 3-12 $7.00, and under 3, free. This facility is included in "A Guide to Accessible Recreation in West Virginia." Please check the Guide or the site for information on accessibility. Please note - a self-reporting survey was used to compile the information in this Guide; every attempt was made to verify the accuracy of the information but West Virginia Division of Tourism is not responsible for errors or inaccuracies.
- Step into the past with a self-guided tour of Victorian grandeur. These were the homes of some of the most influential figures in West Virginia's early history. Garden and Christmas home tours take place annually.
- One of the few plantations left in the state is Henderson Hall in Williamstown. Built in 1836 overlooking the Ohio River, this three-story, 29-room Italianate mansion was the focal point of social and political life for almost two centuries. Period pieces are still intact and include a rosewood piano, the original wood floors, a collection of rare clocks, and a 12-foot gilt mirror, with 17th Century furnishings and portraits still in place.
- Enjoy historic buildings, a museum, a working oil derrick, a one-room schoolhouse and a large antique mall.
- This building is reported to be the first ever dedicated to black veterans. It also served as an important recreational and cultural center for black and white communities in the booming Southern West Virginia coalfields. On the National Register of Historic Places.
- The Indirect Artillery Firing method, later used around the world, was first used by Confederate Sergeant Milton W. Humphreys on May 19–20, 1863. During the Civil War, both Union and the Confederates came along the old Giles, Fayette and Kanawha Turnpike to attack Fayetteville. A cemetery for the Confederate dead is located at the Fleshman’s Farm.
- The Wheeling National Heritage Area preserves and celebrates the city's dramatic setting, resources, and history, including its role as the birthplace of the state of West Virginia during the Civil War.
- Open From Memorial Day through Labor Day daily 10 AM to 5 PM Special Programs - Walking tours Exhibits - Restored passenger depot, historic furnishings, exhibits of interaction between coal miners and railroad, abandoned buildings in Thurmond townsite.
- Dedicated to the preservation of West Virginia's African-American history, this museum has a unique collection of photographs, family histories, and household, cultural and coal-mining artifacts.
- Burnsville Lake / Army Corps of Engineers, HC 10 Box 24, Burnsville, WEST VIRGINIA 26335
- This cemetery was established in 1867 by congressional legislation to offer a final resting place for the men who died during the Civil War. The remains of Union soldiers were removed from temporary graves in West Virginia as well as several Union dead from Kentucky. Of the 1,215 graves, 664 are unknown and some are Confederate soldiers. Notably the grave of Private T. Bailey Brown, the first Union soldier to be killed by a Confederate, is located here.
- A cross-shaped mass grave containing the remains of 95 once-unknown Confederate soldiers who were killed or mortally wounded during the May 23, 1862 Battle of Lewisburg. The site lies within the position occupied by the Union forces.
- At least 62 Confederate soldiers and one civilian, many of them killed at the Battle of Rich Mountain, are buried in this small cemetery surrounded by Union fortifications. Near Beverly, W.Va. (Butcher Hill Historic District).
- Site of the July 1861 Civil War battle for control of the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike. This early union victory catapulted Gen. George McClellan to leadership of the union army and gave the north control of western Virginia leading it to eventual statehood. This site, five miles west of the town of Beverly, WV, features interpretive signs, walking/hiking tours and picnic area. The Beverly Heritage Center (located on Main St., Beverly) serves as the interpretive center for the site with "The 1st Campaign of the Civil War" exhibit and research facilities. Group and guided tours by appointment. Battlefield open year round dawn to dusk. Visitor Center open daily in season and weekdays through the winter. 304-637-7424 or www.richmountain.org.
- The South Side Depot is a unique experience here in Grant County, WV. We have such a variety of items here from WV Made Arts and crafts, to WV Made Foods and Wines. Come and enjoy a cup of fresh coffee and take a walk around our 30K square foot building - two floors! We have special events throughout the year like our upcoming Valentine Express Dinner Train, The Civil War Trains, WV Wines and Foods Dinner Train and so much more. Here in the store we promote as many of our WV hand made artisans buy having demonstrations and book signings throughout the year. We are also the Grant County Visitors Information Center where you can get all the information you need for our area and the surrounding area as well. There is always something for everyone to do! Check us out on the web at www.southsidedepot.com or facebook us at South Side Depot. Hours: Open 10am-5pm daily except Sundays and Mondays until Easter!
- The archives & research center is located at 136 East Race Street. Our files contain the following: files on local families, family geneology books, 34 Berkeley County Journals, cemetery gookd, marriage records, deeds, wills obituaries. House files with pictures and history of houses. County maps. Vintage postcards. Histories of Jefferson, Berkeley, & Morgan Counties. Microfilm etc. Hours vary by season. Open daily except Wednesday and Sundays.
- This unique museum details John Brown's hatred of slavery, traces his violent exploits and depicts scenes from his daring raid on Harpers Ferry. Wax figure museum open mid-March through mid-December.