5 Historic Hidden Gems

Along with its iconic views, West Virginia is home to a rich history, too. Spanning many generations, the stories and folklore of the Mountain State are second to none. With civil war battlegrounds, historic figures and an endlessly unique background, West Virginia is the place to be for any history-lover.

These 5 fascinating blasts from the past will expand your knowledge and set you up for great fun.

Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine

Travel back in time with a trip to Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine, where visitors are shown an accurate representation of early 20th-century coal camp life. Veteran miners will be your guide as you ride through what used to be an operating mine in a “man car.” See a peek into the past as you experience a restored coal camp house, miner’s shanty, church, school and more. Wrap up your historic day with a visit to the site’s museum and gift shop.

Civil War Trails

Originally a part of Virginia’s Old Dominion, West Virginia’s unique history was born during the Civil War when it seceded from the Confederacy. Travel along the “Civil War Discovery Trail,” a national network featuring more than 300 historical sites, to discover even more about this storied dispute. Distinctive enough to earn a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, the downtown district of Ripley is a great place to embark upon this trail. Be sure to stop by two popular standouts: the Clerc-Carson House and Staats Mill Covered Bridge.

Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park

The Blennerhassett Island is rich in history, originally settled in 1789 by Harman and Margaret Blennerhassett. It later become the headquarters for Aaron Burr’s military expedition to the Southwest, an event that awarded the island a permanent footnote in American history, and is now named Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park. Access to the island is part of the fun with a 20-minute sternwheeler ride. Enjoy tours of the mansion and island grounds or relax with a horse-drawn carriage ride throughout the park, opening each season in May.

National Coal Heritage Area

Found in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, the National Coal Heritage Area spans 13 counties and shares the historic story of southern West Virginia coal mines with outside visitors and born-and-raised natives alike. Four points of interest divide this area and give you the option to choose the destination of your historic exploration: New River Gorge Region, Western Gateway, Logan Coalfields and Southern Gateway. Within the National Coal Heritage Area winds over 187 rugged miles of scenic, industrial history known as the Coal Heritage Trail.

New Deal Homestead Museum

“Eleanor’s Little Village” first came to be in 1933 when Eleanor Roosevelt created Arthurdale, the very first New Deal Homestead Community in the country. This was done to help the residents of rural Preston Country who were struggling during the Great Depression. There’s no need to wish for a trip to the past; you can still visit this community today. The New Deal Homestead Museum is a multi-building museum featuring a forge filled with original tools, an Esso service station, the historic Center Hall and the original federal government administration building.

Does this historic list have your adventure wheels turning? Keep exploring West Virginia’s unique heritage by browsing more iconic landmarks and information-packed museums.

This post was last updated on February 24, 2022