West Virginia Travel Regions
-Wonders of WVA
|West Virginia: Metro Valley: Articles|
West Virginia's Capitol Dome
Whether the legislature is in session or out, Charleston's Capitol Complex is a center of activity. On tree-shaded grounds overlooking the Kanawha River are the State Capitol and the Governor's Mansion, both open for tours, and the Cultural Center, a showcase for West Virginia history and culture.
Within the Cultural Center is the State Museum, featuring permanent and changing exhibits. Spring brings an annual display of prize-winning quilts to the Center's Great Hall, and the biennial West Virginia Juried Exhibition is a much-anticipated event.
Stroll around the complex to enjoy several fountains and sculptures, including those in the newly completed, contemplative Veterans Memorial and likenesses of Stonewall Jackson, Booker T. Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
Molten Masterpieces: Glassware
Throughout its history, West Virginia has been home to more than 500 glass companies, small and large. You'll find both types in the Metro Valley, along with opportunities for watching skilled artisans manipulate their medium to produce a stunning variety of glass creations. A regional glass tour might include the following stops:
Visitors to Pilgrim Glass Company in Ceredo, near Huntington, may watch from an observation deck that overlooks the entire plant. Pilgrim's specialties include the sought-after cobalt and cranberry colors, as well as the multi-layered, one-of-a-kind Cameo designs that make a trip to the company's gallery/gift shop more than worthwhile.
Stained-glass artists from all over the world order sheet glass from nearby Blenko Glass in Milton. The company is also known for is hand blown tableware. The factory includes a wholesale outlet center and historical museum, along with an observation deck for visitors. A fascination video presentation about Blenko Glass is for sale.
Also in Milton is Gibson glass, a cottage company that produces a variety of handmade items, including intricately crafted paperweights, carnival glass designs and a line of handmade marbles.
Detailed paperweights, art glass and free-form sculptures are specialties of Harmon Glass Studio, Inc. The family-operated business, located in Scott Depot, also creates awards, trophies and sculptures for corporations and organizations.
Artist Marilyn Kimble Holt produces an array of blown and crafted items at her hot glass studio in Elkview. Her work, on view by appointment, includes contemporary paperweights, bowls and art glass.
In Charleston, the State Museum is also currently featuring glass at an exhibition called "Fire and Sand: Glass in West Virginia." The show includes an informative video presentation, adapted form archival film, about the history and process of glassblowing in the Mountain State. The museum is in the lower level of the Cultural Center in the Capitol Complex.
Glass is crafted in many regions of West Virginia; a tour of Metro Valley factories will likely inspire you to seek out other sources. To get ready, call (800) CALL WVA for a colorful, free guide to West Virginia glass factories.
Beside the Kanawha River, the gold-leafed dome of the State Capitol rises, commanding almost any view of Charleston's East End. The city is pedestrian-friendly, with shops and restaurants in the Village District linked to the Town Center Mall, hotels and the Civic Center by walkways. Haddad Riverfront Park is home to the late-summer Sternwheel Regatta; the P.A. Denny Sternwheeler plies the Kanawha year-round. The indoor/outdoor Capitol Market occupies a renovated 1905 rail station.
Music, Art and Science
Kathy Mattea is a
frequent visitor to WV.
The West Virginia Symphony's monthly concerts feature internationally-known guest artists, and West Virginia Public Radio's Mountain Stage, recorded live from the Cultural Center on Sundays, attracts musicians from around the world.
Sunrise Museum, with its Science and Technology Center and Torquilstone Art Museum, features programs and exhibits for all ages.
Home Runs and Hot Dogs
For spectator sports, head to Watt Powell Baseball park and watch the Charleston Alley Cats, the Class A farm team of the Cincinnati Reds. Or go to the dogs at Tri-State Greyhound Park in Cross Lanes, off I-64. Video slots are a popular park addition.
Rails to History
Sixty miles west of Charleston on I-64, Huntington is a town of wide streets, landscaped parks and a flourishing cultural scene, including the acclaimed Huntington Museum of Art. Marshall University enhances the cultural mix with its Marshall Artists Series and arts center.
The town's growth is tied to the railroad. Each fall, the Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society offers one of the nation's most popular scenic rail events, the New River Train Excursion. The Huntington-to-Hinton trip via the New River Gorge is a treat for railroad buffs and fall foliage lovers. The society also offers other excursions. The Mountain State Mystery Train adds interactive murder mystery theater and other theme events to its New River Gorge rides.
Year-round public entertainment, from pops concerts to a weeklong Summerfest river celebration, enlivens Huntington's Harris Riverfront Park. Another lovely place for a stroll is Ritter Park, with its rose garden and innovative children's park. Throughout the city are more large and small public green spaces.
At Camden Park, a turn-of-the-century amusement park, take a ride on a real wooden roller coaster or antique carousel, or loop-the-loop on modern rides. The Jewel City Sternwheeler, docked at the park, offers Ohio River cruises.
In fall, Marshall University's Thundering Herd hosts visiting teams on the division conference's newest and finest stadium. The Huntington Blizzard hockey team hits the ice at the city's Civic Arena.
Huntington's Old Central City attracts curio and collectible shoppers. The Huntington Mall, off I-64, offers more options.
Glassmaking is an Ohio Valley tradition. Blenko Glass, in Milton, supplies stained glass to artisans worldwide, and Pilgrim Glass, in Ceredo, is famous for its own art, Cranberry Glass. Both plants produce a wide variety of tableware and art glass and offer factory tours and outlet shopping. Blenko features a museum as well.
Gibson Glass, also in Milton, and Hamon Glass of Scott Depot create one-of-a-kind art glass. You'll find handmade marbles, paperweights and sculpture.
Don't overlook South Charleston, Dunbar, Hurricane, Milton and Barboursville, the necklace of smaller towns connecting Charleston and Huntington. South Charleston's focal point is an ancient Adena mound, built some 2,000 years ago as a chieftains' burial place. For shopping, visit the Mound District, Spring Hill area and Riverwalk Mall.
Nearby Dunbar's Wine Cellars Park takes its name from three antebellum stone storage cellars on park property. Its trout-stocked Laura Anderson Lake is open for fishing year-round.
The town of Hurricane is home to a high-quality crafts cooperative and other interesting specialty shops. Cool off at Valley Park's Waves of Fun Water Park; also in the park is the Museum in the Community, where even the spacious new building is a hands-on learning exhibit. Or visit Hurricane City Park and downtown's History Row.
Closer to Huntington, Milton's Mountaineer Opry House rings with bluegrass and country music for family audiences. Fox Fire Resort offers all manner of family recreation, including hot-air balloon rides, along with camping.
Visit neighboring Barboursville for a lovely walking tour of 36 historic sites, including an 1837 log cabin and a cemetery started in 1824.
You can trace the twists and turns of three centuries in the Metro Valley. Each September, the Mary Draper Ingles Living History Trail and Rendezvous follows a portion of the pioneer woman's 1755 journey to escape Shawnee captors. The weekend festival is preceded by a weeklong encampment of Shawnee and buckskinners in full 18th-century regalia.
At Point Pleasant, where the Ohio and Kanawha rivers meet, a not-so-pleasant meeting took place in 1774, the savage battle between General Andrew Lewis's Virginia troops and Chief Cornstalk's Mingo and Shawnee warriors. Today, the park is a peaceful setting for historical monuments, including one in honor of frontier fighter "Mad" Anne Bailey, and the oldest hewn log house in the Kanawha Valley.
Near Point Pleasant, the 50-acre West Virginia State Farm Museum provides a thorough introduction to farm history and life, including festivals as well as exhibits of antique tools and equipment.
The Midland Trail, one of the oldest travel routes in the country, begins a few miles east of Charleston in Malden. Here you'll find the replicated homestead of Booker T. Washington next-door to the African Zion Baptist Church where he preached. Malden is also home to Cabin Creek Quilts; the 1838 Hale House, its headquarters, spills over with colorful patchwork. Pick up a map there, and continue along the Midland Trail for more history at every turn.
Also in the Metro Valley, Look for Samuel Shrewsbury's original 1800 stone farmhouse in Belle, the Craik-Patton House at Daniel Boone Park just east of Charleston and the Ramsdell House in Ceredo, rumored to have been an Underground Railroad stop.
The southern part of the Metro Valley is coal country. You won't find crowds here, but you will find a trove of folklore and history. A statue of a miner stands in tribute outside the courthouse in Madison and presides over Boone County's annual weeklong West Virginia Coal Festival.
In Matewan, far in the south of the region, visit the site of the Matewan Massacre, where miners and coal company detectives clashed in 1920, during the Mine Wars. The legendary Hatfield and McCoy family feud erupted here, too. "Devil" Anse Hatfield is memorialized by a marble statue in the family cemetery at Sarah Ann, near Logan.
In Williamson, the Coal House, constructed in 1933 of 65 tons of local bituminous coal, gleams in ebony grandeur.
The Great Outdoors
Venture outside the towns, and you'll find the Metro Valley as wild and wonderful as the rest of West Virginia. Kanawha State Forest is 20 minutes from downtown Charleston.
The wooded hills of Beech Fork State Park, East Lynn Lake and Cabwaylingo State Forest in Wayne County are within easy driving distance of Huntington. Chief Logan State Park, in Logan, offers recreation facilities and a restaurant. In the park's outdoor amphitheater, The Aracoma Story tells the tale of Chief Cornstalk's daughter.
North of Point Pleasant, McClintic Wildlife Station rewards hunters and anglers with exceptional yields of northern pike and migratory birds. Bird watchers, as well as hunters, find their reward at Green Bottom Wildlife Management Area (WMA) between Point Pleasant and Huntington.
Chief Cornstalk WMA in southern Mason County offers a wilderness setting for wild game, including whitetail deer, squirrel, grouse and wild turkey.
City Lights, Country Comforts
The Metro Valley offers city style, family attractions, historic sites, shopping and sports - along with scenic parks, rivers and forests. Help yourself to a generous serving of art and nature, high culture and down-home hospitality.