Explore this turn-of-the-century town of millionaires

A Victorian coal baron house in Bramwell, WV

 

Tucked into the mountains in a bend of the Bluestone River, the tiny Mercer County town of Bramwell has a claim to fame that might surprise you: This turn-of-the-20th-century coal mining town once was home to more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the United States.

Today you can walk Bramwell’s streets and marvel at the beautiful architecture of the mansions where the coal barons lived – or even peek inside some of these houses during the annual Spring Tour of Homes or the Bramwell Christmas Tour of Homes.

Start your visit at the Coal Heritage Trail Interpretive Center. The replica train depot serves as a welcome center complete with a gift shop and museum detailing the town’s coal mining history.

On Main Street, the old Bryant Pharmacy was the third drugstore in the nation to carry Chanel No. 5 perfume. Today it’s known as The Corner Shop, where you can grab a juicy burger and a hand-spun milkshake.

Just down the street is the Historic Bank of Bramwell, which at one time was the richest bank for its size in the entire country. Another can’t-miss historical site is the Bramwell Presbyterian Church, built of local bluestone and reportedly modeled after a cathedral in Wales.A milkshake at The Corner Shop, Bramwell, WV

But the stars of historic Bramwell may be its grand old Victorian and Tudor revival mansions, characterized by leaded and stained-glass windows, wide porches, turrets and gables, and roofs made of copper, slate or tile. Inside these houses you’ll find original ornate woodwork, chandeliers, fancy parlors, and unique features like dumbwaiters and central vacuum-cleaning systems. You can occasionally tour homes like the Cooper House, with its studded leather-walled den and indoor swimming pool, and the Goodwill House, with its elegant ballroom for entertaining – and even an elevator!

Some of these historic homes have been converted into bed and breakfasts – like the Hewitt House, which has a guest room named after President John F. Kennedy, who is rumored to have once stayed there!

Convenient lodging makes it easy for you to extend your visit. Other things to see and do in the area include Pinnacle Rock State Park, Twin Falls Resort State Park, and the Hatfield McCoy Trails off-roading system.

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