Erskine Covered Bridge - on PA-WV border
Erskine covered bridge in Washington County was built in 1845 by William Gordon. The red, box-like bridge is just 39 feet long and about 12 feet wide, and it rattles like a baby's toy as you drive across! The bridge, spanning Middle Wheeling Creek, was just refurbished in 2006.
It stands just one tenths of a mile from the West Virginia border, so it is the westernmost bridge in PA and the oldest bridge in the county.
Pennsylvania has 197 covered bridges still standing, and there are 28 remaining covered bridges in Washington and Greene counties.
To get to Erskine Covered Bridge, take I-70 east from Wheeling toward PA. Take exit 1 on the PA side of the state line and go south on Old Brick Road. After about 2 miles, turn right on State Route 3018/Middle Creek Road. Go about one mile and the bridge will appear on your left at the entrance to Erskine Road.
The West Virginia State Penitentiary
The West Virginia State Penitentiary has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and was named "One of the Best 500 Places to Visit in the United States" by US News & World Report in 1996.
The West Virginia State Penitentiary was modeled after Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet, Illinois, but is only one-half the size of Joliet's prison. Designed in a castellated Gothic style of architecture, the building has turrets and battlements like a castle. The first phase of the prison was completed in 1876, and later additions in the 1920s doubled the size of the building.
Inmates were given jobs in the prison's backsmith, wagon shop, carpentry shop, brickyard, stone yard, paint shop, tailor, bakery, or hospital. The penitentiary later added a prison farm and coal mine where inmates could work.
A total of 94 men were executed in the penitentiary: 85 were hung between 1899 and 1949, and nine were electrocuted between 1951 and 1959. Others were killed by fellow inmates. It is said that the building is haunted by the spirits of those who died within its walls.
The West Virginia State Penitentiary closed in 1995 after the West Virginia Supreme Court held that the prison's five-foot by seven-foot (one-and-a-half-meter by two-meter) cells amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. The inmates were moved to other prisons throughout the state.
Nowadays, 90-minute tours of the penitentiary are available, and allow visitors to experience "Life on the Inside." However, the most popular tours are nighttime ghost tours and hunts. Since the penitentiary closed, there have been sightings of apparitions and reports of voices and unexplained sounds. It is widely considered to be one of the most haunted places in the United States. As a result, several popular television programs dealing with ghosts and the paranormal, including Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, Paranormal Challenge, Paranormal State, Most Haunted, and Ghost Stories have filmed episodes here. This, in turn, has made the West Virginia State Penitentiary a must-see destination for those interested in the paranormal.
Nancy Hanks Memorial
"God bless my mother. All that I am or ever hope to be I owe to her."
-- Abraham Lincoln
Nancy Hanks was born on February 5, 1784, in Hampshire County, Virginia in a log cabin along Mike's Run at the foot of New Creek Mountain in what is now Mineral County, West Virginia. Nancy grew up to marry Thomas Lincoln. One of Nancy and Thomas's sons, Abraham Lincoln, became the 16th President of the United States. The site of Nancy's birth has been marked by the Nancy Hanks Association, which placed a simple stone monument to mark the spot in 1933. Near the monument is a reconstructed log cabin, like the one in which Nancy Hanks was born.
The site is well off the beaten path. To find it, follow the signs which point off U.S. 220, just a few miles south of the Maryland/West Virginia state line in northeastern West Virginia. You will take a narrow, winding road through the mountains for more than six miles to find the memorial on a dead end one lane road, in a beautiful remote rural area. On one side of the road is the stone monument with a brass plaque, and on the other is the log cabin. When I was there the cabin was open, however the site is unattended and there are no interpretative displays. Still I found it somehow moving to stand for a few minutes, alone in this quite, out-of-the-way spot and contemplate the life of the remarkable woman who gave birth to one of Americaa greatest leaders.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Grave Creek Mound
Grave Creek Mound is the largest conical burial mound constructed by the prehistoric American Indians of the late Adena Period. The Adena People were part of the group of prehistoric cultures known as "mound builders," named for their practice of building burial mounds. Consisting of several different cultures spanning 20,000 years, the mound builders lived in areas that include present-day Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, and parts of New York and Pennsylvania.
Construction of Grave Creek Mound took place in different stages from about 250 B.C. to 150 B.C. The mound is 69 feet (21 meters) high, 295 feet (90 meters) in circumference, and involved the moving of 60,000 tons (54,430,000 kilograms) of earth.
The mound was used as a place to bury the dead. There were multiple burials at different levels in Grave Creek Mound.
Grave Creek Mound is located in the town of Moundsville, about ten miles (16 kilometers) south of Wheeling.
We visited the Radio Observatory literally in the middle of nowhere in West Virginia. You can go on a free tour of the place and learn a lot about radio transmissions and outer space. We enjoyed the tour , even without finding out there really are aliens.
The entire area is in something called " The Quiet Zone" where no cell phones work, and people routinely have their microwave ovens confiscated because they are interferring with the radio signals.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
Virginia's Chapel is a small chapel that was built in 1853 by the Tompkins family as a gift for their daughter, Virginia. It was used by both sides in the Civil War, and changed hand a few times over the years. It was restored in the 1980s and is now open to the public.
Virginia's Chapel is located on Route 60 in the town of Cedar Grove, West Virginia. Cedar Grove is located east of Charleston, West Virginia's capital.Related to:
- Religious Travel
- Historical Travel
The Entire State is Off the Beaten Path
The entire state of West Virginia is off the beaten path. Despite its physical beauty, West Virginia is not a place that Americans typcally go out of their way to visit. One reason is that they usually associate the state with poverty, coal mining, and uneducated hillbilles. Yes, it is a poor state, and yes, there are some very ugly coal strip mines, and yes, the poor people living in some of the remote mountain areas may not have college degrees. However, the state is worth visiting for its beautiful scenery, historic towns, and friendly people. West Virginia is especially good for outdoor sports, such as whitewater rafting,canoeing, kayaking, as well as hiking. West Virginia is also inexpensive and uncrowded relative to the rest of the USA.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Hiking and Walking
Try Ramps--this one is off the map--
not just off the beaten path!
I'd bet good money that unless you were born and raised in West Virginia (or at least somewhere in the mountains of Appalachia), you have never heard of ramps (except as something connected with highways or skateboarding). If you are truly brave and adventureous, and you happen to be in West Virginia at the right time in the Spring, I dare you to attend a Ramp Supper and eat ramps.
So what are ramps, you ask? Ramps are wild leeks. They grow throughout the Appalachian woodlands near mountain streams. Ramps are among the first edible foods to appear in the early spring. These wild leeks reek of garlic, only stronger. Only stronger? Who are we kidding? Back in the dark ages, when I was a child, our school principal had a rule--if you ate ramps over the weekend, you were excused from school on Monday...the stink coming off 30 or so ramp-eating children confined to one classroom would have been overwhelmingly distracting...and April is too chilly to sit in class with all the windows open.
Throughout the Appalachian southern mountains, ramps are featured at ramp suppers and festivals. The Feast of the Ramson at Richwood, West Virginia is probably one of the best known and largest. Richwood, in fact, is home to the NRA--the National Ramp Association. But many smaller events take place throughout April and into the month of May. Holding a ramp supper is a time-honored way of raising funds for the volunteer fire department or local church, for instance.
Now, I'm gonna 'fess up here. I've never eaten ramps.... But thousands of West Virginians swear by them! Call the Richwood Chamber of Commerce at the phone number below for the current information on the Feast of the Ramson ramp festival dates.Related to:
- Food and Dining
- Road Trip
Bluestone National Scenic River
A ten-mile segment of the Bluestone River in southern West Virginia was designated a National Scenic River by the National Park Service in 1988. This river was the first of three rivers in West Virginia to enter the Wild and Scenic River System, which protects free-flowing rivers throughout the United States.
The Bluestone begins on East River Mountain in Virginia and flows 77 miles to its confluence with the New River at Bluestone Lake near Hinton, West Virginia.
The section preserved as a National Scenic River flows through the Bluestone Gorge between Pipestem and Bluestone State Parks. These parks offer the best way to access the River. The parks are connected by a great hiking trail through the rugged gorge and along the river. The views are outstanding.Related to:
- National/State Park
- Adventure Travel
- Hiking and Walking
Cass Scenic Railroad
Cass is a small town, located in the eastern portion of West Virginia. It thrived on the native timer as an industry, using a steam-powered engine pulling cars that brought the timber from the mountain, where it could be shipped onto other destinations by rail.
Not much is in Cass, but if it is scenery that makes your vacation complete, this part of the state is for you.
Other activities close by include the Greenbank Radio Observatory at Greenbank, WV, Blackwater Falls State Park, Seneca Rocks and Caverns, Snowshoe Ski Resort (lovely in the summertime too!) and many other off the beaten path locations that will help you understand why West Virginia's is referred to as "Almost Heaven".Related to:
- Road Trip
- National/State Park
- Family Travel
The YMCA Camp at Leadmine.
Leadmine is a beautiful place to drive through, and walk through. Its definitly off the beatan path, as almost everything else is in West Virginia, but is well worth visiting. Leadmine I believe is in preston county, or just outside of it, in north eastern West Virginia.
For the truly adventurous go...
For the truly adventurous go for a stealth mission to walk the catwalk underneath the New River Gorge Bridge. It's the tallest bridge in the East and I think the 2nd tallest in the country next to the Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado. I'll put it this way, one weekend in October is set aside by the National Park Service for BASE jumping from the bridge. It's a sight. It's quite a feat just getting to the catwalk w/o getting caught. It's a $500 fine I think if the National Park Service people catch you. The catwalk itself it virtually idiot proof. You would have to work to fall off of it. It runs the length of the bridge which is about 3/4 of mile. Not that I recommend anyone do this, especially the faint of heart, but it doesn't get anymore off the beaten path than this in Fayetteville. Not that I've done this or anything ;)
Shepardstown----A small town...
Shepardstown----A small town that hosted Middle East Peace talks in Jan.2000. The Marriott hotel is not the fanciest you'll ever stay at but a nice place. Downtown there are some great restaurants and some a few nice bars.
Get to meet the people some...
Get to meet the people some people think these 'Hillbillys' are dumb and ignorant. But, just because of their southern accent, it doesn't mean that they don't have any smarts! I love the people and I DO love the State!
'Rails to trails' is a trail...
'Rails to trails' is a trail that goes thruogh West Virginia that you can walk or ride your bicycle on. It's all gravel so the ride isn't too smooth. The cool part is - it's where old railroad tracks used to be so it takes you right through the middle of the woods, over bridges, through tunnels (sometimes you can't see the other end when you start into them - kind of creepy), and through some tiny towns. I'm not sure where it starts but I know it goes through places like Cairo (my favorite), Petroleum, Ellenboro, North Bend park, etc. It's beautiful scenery and good exercise.
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