The West Virginia State Flower is the Rhododendron (Rhododendron Maximum), one of the most elegant and showy of all flowering shrubs. The Rhododendron, sometimes called Big Laurel or Great Laurel, is an evergreen which grows and blooms naturally throught the Mountain State. It may be found in ravines, on shaded hillsides or any cool moist location, and favors acidic soils.
The Rhododendron was selected as West Virginia's State Flower on January 23, 1903, by the Legislature, following a vote by pupils of the public schools. It is a member of the heath family and may be recognized by its large dark evergreen leaves and delicate pale pink or white bloom, mottled with either red or yellow flecks.
Rhododendron, West Virginia's State Flower
Probably because of the mountains, it wasn't until 1669, over 60 years after the settlement of Jamestown, that the expedition of John Lederer, a German physician in the employ of colonial governor William Berkeley reached the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains and apparently become the first Europeans to see what is now West Virginia. And the first permanent settlement at Bunker Hill on Mill Creek in Berkeley County did not take place until 1726 almost 60 years after that. The needs and issues of the planter in eastern Virginia were not the same as those of the mountaineers who lived in the western part of the state.
When Viriginia voted to secede from the Union on April 17, 1861, the delegates from 25 counties met at the First Wheeling Convention and repudiated the secession from the Union. The popular vote western counties of Virginia opposed the secession also. Initially the state name was to be Kanawha after the valleys of the Kanawha River, but the 2nd Constitutional Convention decided on West Virginia instead.
In January of 1862, seven men meeting in Parkersburg formed the Colored School Board of Parkersburg, W. Va., and organized a day school for black children, the first public school for blacks in West Virginia. A newspaper article in 1888 stated, "In effect, it was a free school, and the only one manned by colored men in the United States, except the Gaines High School in Cincinnati, O., at that time, and the first school established for colored youth south of the 'Mason and Dixon' line."
On Dec. 31st. President Lincoln approved the act of admission to the Union, to take effect upon the insertion into the State constitution of a clause that would provide for the gradual emancipation of slaves. Finally in 1863 (April 20 th) President Lincoln issued a proclamation admitting West Virginia to the Union after a 60-day waiting period. On June 20th, 1863, West Virginia was admitted to the Union as 35th state
Fondest memory: Except for one trip from Baltimore MD to California around Xmas 1964 in a snowstorm and one trip from Leonardtown to Lexington KY in 1983 while pulling a horse trailer (and the mountains made the trip a nightmare in both cases), I have rarely driven though West Virginia
On the trip out to Ohio, I decided not to go up into Pennsylvania to Pittsburgh as I usually did when we were going to visit our son and DIL. Instead we went to Morgantown and spent the night right off I-68. I realized that I didn't have any current maps for the area, but we were tired and didn't feel like trying to find the AAA office in the last afternoon, but the next morning the Morgantown office wasn't open early in the morning. So we drove up to I-79 and went north into Pennsylvania. It was very nasty rainy weather. After striking out in Allentown, we finally got to a AAA office in East Liverpool OH.
These pictures are pictures I took in the early morning as we were leaving West Virginia.
Favorite thing: The best time to see fall foliage in West Virginia is generally around the 2nd week in October, but weather conditions in August and September could make peak viewing a week earlier or later. Fall in West Virginia is very beautiful, and the weather is perfect, chilling to high 30's low 40's at night and in the mid to low 70's during the day, late September through mid-October.
I remember that HUNTINGTON was not really a beautiful place to go...very industrial.
CHARLESTON was more pleasant and the Capitol worth an eye.
The area around BECKLEY is much more scenic and the IS highway from here to White Sulphur Springs and the VA border is a beautiful drive (but hilly...)
Fondest memory: NONE
Fondest memory: A most beautiful city, HUNNINGTON, was our overnight residence. I experienced trouble with my car battery, went to Wal-Mart to get a tool. Not sure which one I needed, the clerk told me to take several to be sure I got the right one then come back and pay. Can not remember the motel but really nice people. We had supper at Applebee's near the Ohio River where we visited with folks fishing from the bank. The city has a real neat park with an ampi-theater on the river.
Drive US 60 across the state. It is the old Midland Trail and has spectacular scenery and interesting towns and cities. White Sulphur Springs and Lewisburg are charmers.
Fondest memory: My fondest memory of West Virginia was sitting on Fort Hill across the Kanawha River from downtown Charleston and seeing the skyline of the city at night. Charleston is a very impressive, classy place.
While I've spent time in West Virginia mtn biking, climbing, & briefly hiking during my 'Thru Hike' of the Appalachian Trail, I can say my greatest times have been whitewater kayaking on the New and Gauley Rivers. If you don't kayak, definitely take a commercial raft trip on one of these rivers! The beauty and excitement are well worth it.
Fondest memory: This past September was my first trip down the infamous Upper Gauley, a challenging class 4-5 big water trip. It was the most difficult river I had paddled to date. I was scared and nervous before hand but I was going w/ a very skilled and competent group of friends. We had an absolute blast! I dare say it bordered on a spiritual experience for me. Pillow rapid was a hoot, does anyone run that thing w/o flipping? Lost Paddle was incredibly long and complex but what a feeling after it was over. Sweet's Falls is a fantastic way to end the trip. I giggled like a little school boy after each big rapid. So many spots to play too, I couldn't believe it. If you get the chance go to Gauleyfest in September, it's a big time party for anyone who loves whitewater.
Go to Twin Falls State Park, located in Wyoming County. There you will see beautiful deer. Or visit R.D. Bailey Lake to fish, boat or just to camp out.
Fondest memory: My best memory of West Virginia is when we had moved from Florida back home. Seeing the rolling hills of WV seemed to embrace me and say 'Welcome Home!'
Drive the old roads through these winding hills and try not to get lost! Go durning the fall colors! Imagine what it was like for the folks who moved into these places when it was virgin territory! Oh my, if you look at it this way you might just go around the next turn and have found your lil' bit of heaven here on earth. An old slogan for the state was 'West Viginia almost heaven' and I know Bob Denver sang the song by the same name as the state. It's probably all true and it's within a days tyraveling time from hometown. It is someplace I want to go back to and see more!!!!!! Anyone feel free to give me suggestions on places I could go and I would appreciate it!!!!
Fondest memory: Being with family!!!!
Every year in October they have 'Bridge Day' on the New River Gorge Bridge. They shut down one side of the bridge to cars and open it up to BASE jumpers!
They also sell arts & crafts, food and raft under the bridge. It's a fun, if odd day.
Fondest memory: One of my fondest memories of West Virginia would have to be the time that a very dear friend and I went for a weekend get away. It was during the month of April. We drove all over Pocahontas County and the Richwood area(all over really) just taking in all the natural beauty of this fine state and checking water levels of little creeks(for an up coming kayaking trip). While driving and hiking a little in the mountains of Pocahontas County, it snowed on us! There was actually snow sticking to the ground. Behind the snow clouds, the sun could been seen, appearing more like a hazy moon. It was a very magical day(can I say that with out sounding too cheesy). Continuing with our day, we stopped to look at a steep section of the Cranberry River. We walked it's banks and hopped from rock to rock. I was busy looking for wild flowers and my friend was busy looking at the water flow and such. We were both completely immersed in our own thoughts and with our own interests. When suddenly, at the same instant, we turned to look at each other, and unbeknownst to either of us, we were both sort of twisting at the waist with huge smiles on our faces. The twist was some sort of an involuntary dance that we must have picked up from vibes of the river. What ever it was had a hold on the both of us. We laughed and just kept on boogieing! That involuntary dance has since been coined the Cranberry Twist, after the river of course. Now, when ever I'm in Richwood or near the Cranberry River, I must drink cranberry juice and vodka in commemoration of that very moment; the cranberry twist!
Forget all the jokes you've heard about brothers and sisters marrying each other and running into locals with only one tooth. Those people may exist, but the state truly is, as they say, wild and wonderful. You can lose yourself in the countryside up in the region near the panhandle. In the fall the trees change colors dramatically, there are deer, turkeys, birds, groundhogs and lots of other wildlife, beautiful rivers, and the sunsets behind the gentle mountains can be spectacular.
Fondest memory: In the winter, if it snows, my family gets together and sleds down the big hill in the back yard. We have some sleds for sliding, and another saucer-shaped sled for the beer!
Fondest memory: The best place that I like to go when we go camping is this little alcove Iland where a river crosses the hiking trail. This is usually where my family stops to eat and rest and where I go galyvanting upstream on the massive bolders that were broght down from the mountains by the glaciers.
... look around. The scenery is beautiful and the people aren't like any kind of people you'll meet anywhere else, they're incredibly friendly.
The small town is the best part of WV. Sometimes you'll be passing through miles of nothing but woods and mountains and suddenly you'll come across a small town (or maybe a string of small towns) with a population of 150. Stop by the local barbershop for a trim and listen to the locals talk about what's going on in town. Eat at just about any greasy spoon and get good, cheap food while you get a feel for the town and the people in it. Order with a warm smile and the hospitality you'll receive in return will just about knock you out.
Camp next to a mountain stream, get up really early, smell the air , and go fishing for native brook trout. Take a slow train ride from Cass to Whittaker. Go rafting on the Gauley. Visit Elkins during the Appalachian Heritage Festival for live bluegrass.
Places I wouldn't recommend are Charelston, Huntington, Morgantown, and Martinsburg. These aren't good place to go if you visit WV because they aren't very WV at all.
Fondest memory: I've lived in several different places around the US, but to me WV is a cut above the rest, and for me, it's the people that make it what it is.
Look at the way they dress, listen to the way they talk, try to understand their lifestyle and you'll really begin to appreciate who they are. West Virginians aren't shy. They'll say hello to you in the street as you walk by, and in small towns, they'll wave at you as you drive by, even though they have no idea who you are.
When they are friendly with you extend the same courtesy. If you sit down to talk with an older person you'll hear all sorts of colorful and funny euphamisms and metaphors.
Try the skiing in the winter-they are still skiing with a good base.
Fondest memory: Pipstem is on of the most popular in the souithern area. the area around Summersville is really good too. They have a lake near Summersville that is drained every fall and then filled the spring. It is a resevoir which was actually created over an old town. The lake drains into the river creating a class 5 rafting experience. Is that unique or what!
US 340 & Union St., Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, 25425, United States
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Solo
This was a gem of a motel but it was a bit tough to locate. The motel was off the I-79 exit but...more
80 Old Nicholette Road, I-77, Exit 170, Mineral Wells, West Virginia, 26150, United States
Good for: Couples