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Planning a trip? Here’s What WV Locals Recommend . . .

The old saying goes, “ When in Rome, do as the Romans do”.  That suggestion also definitely applies here in Southern West Virginia.

Curious about how to plan for your WV vacation?  Here’s a way to take some of the guess work out of the process.  Southern West Virginia locals recommend the following:

Sights

Hanging Rock Observatory

These are places that offer up some of the most incredible views in the area as well as other outdoor activities.  If you visit, you’ll definitely understand why these spots are recommended by locals.

* The New River Gorge Bridge viewed from Long Point - A 1.6 mile hike ending on a small rock outcropping that renders a unique panoramic side view of the bridge for those who make the trek.
* Sandstone Falls – Varying water levels on the New River make this trip different almost every visit.
* Grandview – This National Park Service property offers a variety of day-use activities.
* Greenbrier River Trail – A 78-mile trail that  follows the Greenbrier River and offers year round adventure.
Hanging Rock Observatory – A great destination for birdwatchers and scenery-lovers alike.

Activities

If these activities aren’t on your list of to-dos, then they probably should be.

BridgeWalk - Catwalk below the New River Gorge Bridge

* The Mystery Hole- Don’t ask.  Just go and see it for yourself.

* The Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine- Go underground in an old coal mine and tour a restored coal company house, school, and church.
* Theatre WV- Theater under the stars (and on a cliff).
* Lost World Caverns – Like a coal mine, only different.  Go underground and explore one of West Virginia’s coolest caves.
* Bridge Walk- A very unique way to experience the New River Gorge and the Bridge.

Southern West Virginia has an enormous amount of activities and sights.   Those listed here are just a few of the local favorites.  What’s your favorite area adventure?

Three Scenic New River Mining Towns to Visit

Southern West Virginia was built on coal mining and one doesn’t have to look very hard to find an old coal mining town.

But the coal towns of the New River Gorge are a bit different. They were small and remote, etched into the side of the mountain and mostly cutoff from each other except by rail. The towns of the Gorge were abandoned after the coal became too difficult to mine because living in this area was a tough existence.

There were well over 15 mining towns located in just the lower 14 mile stretch of the New River Gorge National Park.

Here’s a look at three of these towns that you can visit to get a peek into the mining of yesteryear.

Thurmond

The Restored Thurmond Depot

Thurmond is by far the most famous of all the New River coal towns. From being the site of a world record poker game, to shipping more freight than cities like Cincinnati, to serving as the set of major motion picture, this town has one heck of a history.

Thurmond was one of two major shipping points in the New River Gorge and still has many standing buildings and a few residents. The Bank of Thurmond and the hotel above it is just o

ne of the buildings that are still a part of this old coal town.

The National Park Service restored the old Thurmond Depot a few years ago and now it serves as a wonderful visitor center and museum.  The Depot is the centerpiece of this old mining town and hopefully in the future will be only one of many restored buildings.

Thurmond is accessed from Glen Jean via County Rt. 25 and is only about 15 minutes from

Oak Hill.

Nuttallburg

Built in the 1880’s by John Nuttall, Nuttallburg was made famous when Henry Ford purchased it as a means of obtaining quality coal to power his growing automobile industry.

The Fordson Mine was only open a few years before it was sold again due to difficulties in transporting coal from WV to Michigan.

This town is located in the heart of the whitewater section of the New River, between the rapids Dudley’s Dip and Double Z.  Hundreds of thousands of people have floated right by it and never known it was there due to the lush forest hiding its secrets. When the leaves are off you

can still see the tipple and the immense coal conveyor, which at 1385 feet was one of the longest button and rope conveyors ever built at a coal mine.

Kaymoor

The Kaymoor mines were some of the largest and most productive mines in the Gorge. The town

was actually split, with some of it located on the top of the Gorge and some of it down on the river.

Kaymoor had no churches, banks, saloons or a town hall but did havetwo schools (at the top and bottom of the town), a company store and a pool hall.

Upon exploration you can still see the old Kaymoor powder house, the coke ovens and remnants of many of the old structures. There are also two barricaded old mine portals that give you just a glimpse of what going back into a mine was like in those days.

The Kaymoor coal mines will be the most difficult of the three to access. You can either hike down from the top, accessed at Garten via County Rt. 9/2, or hike in 2 miles from Fayette Station Rd (Co. Rt. 82) at the trailhead.

What other coal towns do you recommend visiting?

Top 10 Things To Do At Beckley’s Appalachian Festival

As big admirers of all things Appalachian, the Southern West Virginia CVB offers you up this list.  Come to the Appalachian Festival, and get your last

Quilts - Appalachian Arts & Crafts Fest

Quilts - Appalachian Arts & Crafts Fest

summer fun in the southern WV way!

•    Hillbilly Breakfast – Biscuits-n-gravy, and… well that’s all you need to  say    really (plenty of other stuff, too).
•    Arts and Crafts Fair – This is the 45th annual event, where you can find knicks, knacks, and pretty much every combination thereof.
•    Coal Mine Tour -  The tour goes on all the time, but there’s a deep discount (by showing your Appalachian Arts & Crafts Fair ticket stub) during the Festival!  It’s always worth going underground for this one.
•    Strolling Musicians -  It’s like a bluegrass mariachi band; just eat lunch in the park and enjoy the show.
•    Ghost Tours – Find out what the dead are up to in Uptown Beckley as you tour some beautiful homes with some frightful history right in town.
•   Live Music at Grandview – There’s nothing better on the last nights of summer that showing up at the outdoor amphitheater at Grandview for an outdoor show.
•    Flea Market - Everything from apples to stuffed zebras is on sale, and then some.  If you’re a bargain hunter, this is for you.
•    Kids Crafts – Traditional artisans show up to teach kids how to make something special with the soul of the mountains in it.
•    Taste Of Appalachia -  Everything worth eating in a 50 mile radius will be on hand to try out.  This is the perfect event for the appetite that wants everything.
•    Classic Car Show -  How did so many great cars wind up in southern West Virginia?  You’ll have to go to the car show to find out.  Worth every second.

Do you have other favorites?  Tell us…

What’s The Big Deal With Southern West Virginia?

Golden Delicious Apples

Golden Delicious Apples

Here’s a secret:  southern West Virginia is one of the best vacation spots in the country.

Maybe that’s our fault.  We don’t want to keep it a secret, obviously.  Please, be our guests; tell everyone.  Shout it from the hilltops.  Share it on your facey-spacies.  It’s a big deal.

A New Blog Series
Well, a lot of us think it’s a big deal.  So, we’re going to spotlight exactly why with a short series of blog posts.

We’ll be talking about some of the major draws for visitors throughout our region.  And the way we’ll do that is by going from area to area, and listing the things that we like about it.

That way, when people say, “Hey, what’s the big deal about Beckley, WV?”, you can say, “Oh, Beckley? That place has a coal mine tour that goes 1500 feet under a mountain.  You’ve never been?! Are you out of your mind?  We need to go right now!  That place is a big deal…”

Or something like that.

Some Examples Of Why SWV Is A Big Deal (We’re Biased)

There really are great reasons to come visit.  Of course, we’re a little one-sided.  But can you blame us?  Check this out…

•    West Virginia is covered by more than 75% forest.
•    We have the lowest crime rate in the country.
•    One reason we’re the Mountain State is because we have the highest          average elevation east of the Mississippi.
•    We were once the site of the largest Oak tree in the country (it died), and still have the largest Sycamore (goin’ strong).
•    We’re the most northern of southern states and the most southern of northern states.
•    We have the world’s first brick street.
•   Golden Delicious apple? That’s right.  West Virginia.

Typical Big Deal Information

What we really want to provide with these posts are facts about cool stuff to see and do, places that we like to stay, some of the best places to eat… that kind of thing.

Vacation time is precious.  Maybe we can help plan a little of yours by finding out what the big deal is around southern West Virginia.

And thanks, too, for reading them. We hope they’re helpful.

What’s Your Big Deal?
Have a place that you’d like spotlighted?  Some info on the big deal about so-and-so town?  Share it.  Reply to any of these posts, and let the world know what you know that you want others to know about southern West Virginia.

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