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Footbridge and railroad tunnel leading to the Potomac River in Harpers Valley
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  • States:
    West Virginia

West Virginia’s place in U.S. history has its roots in the earliest days of the country.

From the frontier era of Daniel Boone and the first major land battle of the American Civil War, to the nation’s railroad boom and coal-mining industry, the “Mountain State” boasts as much satisfaction for history buffs as it does outdoor adventurers. As you immerse yourself in West Virginia’s natural beauty, step back in time at historical sites throughout the state.

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park: Can’t-Miss Attraction

Where the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers meet at the junction of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is a beautifully preserved piece of American history. It’s here that John Brown tried to incite a slave revolt in 1859, one of the events leading up to the American Civil War less than two years later. Gorgeous hiking trails and picturesque bridges take you through fascinating historical sites dating as far back as 1782, while living history workshops allow you to learn 19th century trades such as metalworking and old-fashioned baking.

Taking a horse-drawn carriage ride through historic Harpers Ferry

Taking a horse-drawn carriage ride through historic Harpers Ferry
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National Coal Heritage Area: American Industry in the Mountains

West Virginia’s history is inextricable from its role in the coal mining industry, which dominated from the early 1800s through 1950. In 1996, a formal move to preserve former mining sites was enacted, and visitors can now travel the 300-kilometer Coal Trail in the southern portion of the state to see old industrial towns. Must-see sites include the Tamarack Visitor Center in Beckley for Appalachian handicrafts and regional foods; the Exhibition Coal Mine, also in Beckley, where veteran coal miners take you on a tour of an abandoned underground mining shaft; and the Hatfields and McCoys Feud Tour, a self-guided driving tour that tells the story of the USA’s most famous Civil War-era feuding clans.

The historic Hatfield Cemetery near Sarah Ann in Logan County

The historic Hatfield Cemetery near Sarah Ann in Logan County
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Cass Scenic Railroad State Park: Visit an Old Logging Town

Deep in the trees of the Monongahela National Forest, Cass Scenic Railroad State Park recalls the days of steam locomotives and turn-of-the-century logging towns. Take a self-guided walking tour and pick up a souvenir at the old Company Store, which also houses the local history museum and The Last Run Restaurant. Ride a restored steam engine through the lush forest to a re-created logging camp and views of the Cheat River. The company houses that once provided lodging to loggers have been repurposed into cottages for overnight stays. Reserve one in advance for the complete experience.

Fall motorcycle ride at the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park

Fall motorcycle ride at the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park
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Getting There

Fly into Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), which offers connecting flights to Yeager Airport (CRW) in Charleston, West Virginia’s capital city. Rental cars are readily available in Charleston.

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The historic Wheeling Suspension Bridge, built in 1849, over the Ohio River
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Destination

Wheeling