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Archive for west virginia

The Friendly City

By Linda Tancs

Wheeling, West Virginia, dubs itself “the friendly city,” no doubt earned by its reputation for heartily welcoming visitors—a stark contrast from the tumult experienced during the Civil War. The state was formed out of western Virginia and added to the Union as a direct result of the war. Born from the walls of West Virginia Independence Hall, a forerunner of today’s skyscrapers with wrought iron I-beams and box girders with cast iron columns, its three floors tell the story of political intrigue, treason, loyalty oaths and the threat of rebel invasion. Admission is free.

Steaming Through Cass

By Linda Tancs

Cass, West Virginia, is a charming old logging town founded in 1900 by a pulp and paper company. Its main attraction is Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, home of the railway line built in 1901 to haul lumber to the town mill. Lest you think it’s a quaint site riddled with old, rusty railroad cars, the astonishing fact is that Cass is home to the world’s largest fleet of geared Shay locomotives. Many of the passenger cars are old logging flat cars that have been refurbished for use as part of a popular train excursion, allowing visitors to relive an era when steam-driven locomotives were an essential part of everyday life. For a taste of this bygone era, take the excursion to Whittaker Station, the location of an authentic logging camp recreated by the volunteers of the Mountain State Railroad & Logging Historical Association. Just four miles up the track from Cass, the journey includes a stopover for breathtaking country views.

The Land of Canaan

By Linda Tancs

In the 1700s the wild valley on the western slope of the Alleghenies looked like the Promised Land to an adventurer in the region.  Or so the story goes.  Regardless of its veracity, that valley is known as the Canaan Valley in West Virginia.  Home to the country’s 500th National Wildlife Refuge, its cool and moist climate provides a haven for 580 species of plants and 288 different animals.  Endangered bats, salamander, dragonflies and priority bird species such as brown thrasher, Eastern towhee, and American woodcock no doubt find it heavenly.

 

The Quietest Place in America

By Linda Tancs

Green Bank, West Virginia is a tiny speck of a town where you could hear a pin drop.  That’s because it’s located in the National Radio Quiet Zone, an area designed to protect the powerful radio telescopes in the area from interference.  Green Bank boasts the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope, the largest fully steerable telescope on Earth.  If you seek a break from the world of Wi-Fi, then this is the place to be.  Just one mile from the astronomy observatory you can stay at one of three original log cabins that were built in 1810.

Hunker Down in West Virginia

By Linda Tancs

The Greenbrier is a National Historic Landmark, an award-winning resort located in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.  Surrounded by the Allegheny Mountains, the impeccably appointed Greenbrier offers superb amenities such as championship golf, fine dining, more than 50 activities, designer boutiques, a 5-star spa and a 103,000 square foot gaming and entertainment venue.  So it might seem a bit strange that in the midst of these luxurious, pampering surroundings is a bunker.  Yes, a bunker–as in the Cold War era, underground kind.  Once a top secret Government facility, the now declassified bunker beneath the West Virginia Wing is a unique attraction for a luxury property.  Boasting such sites as a decontamination area and power plant, the bunker is a piece of living history open for tours by the public and registered hotel guests alike.  The Greenbrier is easily reached via Amtrak or flights to Greenbrier Valley Airport.

Scaling the Heights in West Virginia

By Linda Tancs

At a dizzying 876-foot drop to the river below, West Virginia’s New River Gorge Bridge is the longest steel span in the western hemisphere and the second highest in the United States.  Located on U. S. Route 19 just north of Fayetteville, the engineering marvel (featured on the state’s commemorative quarter issued in 2005)lures visitors to cross the catwalk, jump and rappel each October on the third Saturday, Bridge Day.  Afraid of heights?  No worries.  Enjoy the farmer’s market, cornbread and chili cook-off and car show, to name just a few events.  The jumpers and rappelers could no doubt use a little moral support, too.

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Exotic Foods in West Virginia

By Linda Tancs

When you think of exotic foods, what comes to mind?  Deep-fried crickets?  Cock’s combs?  Blood pudding?  You don’t have to travel to the far corners of the earth to experience strange or exotic foods.  Just head to the West Virginia Roadkill Cook-off and Autumn Harvest Festival on 24 September in Pocahontas County.  There you’ll enjoy such delicacies as squirrel gravy over biscuits, teriyaki-marinated bear and deer sausage.  Get ready for some grub!

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