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:
- Heritage Farm Museum & Village offers a step back in time with museum buildings that recreate and preserve our Appalachian heritage. See the ambitions and hardships of our ancestors displayed and re-enacted to show life as it was at the turn of the century. We offer school tours during the week and have weekend events once a month. The village was recently used in 2012 as a film set for nearly a dozen scenes for a History channel documentary "America's Greatest Feud: The Hatfields & McCoys." The documentary was produced by Milton, WV native Darrell Fetty (who also co-produced the miniseries), was filmed by Huntington-based Trifecta Productions, and aired following History Channel's record-shattering broadcast of its 3-part miniseries "The Hatfields & McCoys" starring Kevin Costner. We offer guided tours daily: Our regular tour fees are $10 Adults, $9 Seniors 65 & up, $8 Child (2-12) plus tax. Please visit our website: www.heritagefarmmuseum.com and take a virtual tour of our facilities or give us a call at (304-522-1244) if there are any questions.
- In the fall of 1995, the city of Huntington erected a statue in honor of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, "Father of Black History." Woodson had served as principal of Douglass High School in Huntington and dean at West Virginia State College, Institute. After earning a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1912, he published the influential Journal of Negro History, the Bulletin of Negro History and a series of seminal books. In 1926, he launched "Negro History Week," which has been expanded to "Black History Month." The statue stands in the community along Hal Greer Boulevard in Huntington.
- The Douglass Junior and Senior High School stands as a symbol for the black citizens of Huntington. The school served as a cultural and educational center for the black community for nearly 40 years. Among the graduates of Douglass was Carter G. Woodson, the noted black essayist, historian and activist. In 1915, he founded the nation�s oldest black history organization and the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History. On the National Register of Historic Places.
- Built near present-day St. Albans in 1786, Fort Tackett stood on land that originally belonged to George Washington, which was deeded to him for his service in the French and Indian War. St. Albans, WV
- East Hall is now the oldest building on the West Virginia State University campus. For more than 75 years, it served as the college president's home, bearing silent witness to several historic periods in American education. During the building's existence, "The West Virginia Colored Institute," which began under the nation's 1890 Land Grant Act, was transformed from a small school to "West Virginia State University," an institution of higher education rendering exceptional service to the nation as well as the state's black communities. On the National Register of Historic Places.
- Money. Power. Politics. War. Prosperity. A self-guided tour presents the captivating stories of the nation's first oil and gas field. See the world's oldest producing oil well and learn the role it played in West Virginia statehood and the Civil War.
- This quaint chapel served as a Confederate hospital and Union stable during the war. A slave cemetery is located behind the church. Cedar Grove, W.Va.
- 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.
- West Virginia Independence Hall, a National Historic Landmark and the birthplace of West Virginia, is located in Wheeling, West Virginia. Originally built as a federal custom house in 1859, it is considered the birthplace of West Virginia because it was the site of a series of events leading up to the state’s creation. The building has been lovingly restored with period rooms and exhibitions which interpret the historic and architectural significance of the site.
- The Lewisburg and Ronceverte Trail, currently under construction, runs along the former L&R Rail Road which ran between the towns of Lewisburg and Ronceverte from 1906 and 1931. This 6 mile project is ongoing with sections completed within both communities. The trail provides bicycling and walking paths for all ages.
- This stately brick mansion was built in 1870 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The land was settled in 1807 by the Modisett family. The historic barn was built in 1850 by Uriah Modisett. Adaland is located near several Civil War sites. We offer historic guided tours of the mansion on tour days and arranged tours of the barn. Special events can be arranged by calling 304-457-2415. Visit our web site www.adaland.org. 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.
- Site of the longest battle in the Tygart Valley Campaign. Union forces ousted the Confederate army and protected important turnpikes, securing safe passage to Wheeling for the founding fathers to plan the statehood of WV. In fleeing to Beverly, Confederate General Garnett was the first general to die in the Civil War. Annual battle reenactment is staged during the third weekend in July. The Battlefield is open to the public year-round and walking trails are marked with interpretive signage.
- Sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary and erected in 1925 by the Berkeley County Memorial Association, this memorial is dedicated to the patriotic citizens of Berkeley County who served the United States in World War I. Martinsburg, W.Va.
- Several prominent local Confederates are buried here, including Gen. Robert E. Lee’s cartographer, S. Howell Brown. Charles Town, W.Va.
- In 1859 John Brown and his followers marched from the Kennedy Farm in Maryland to the town of Harpers Ferry. Their goal was to seize weapons from the United States Federal Arsenal for an armed uprising against slavery. Overnight, the picturesque community at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers was thrust into the turbulent center of national events of the day – and made an enduring mark on American history. Harpers Ferry, W.Va.