West Virginia - Mountains & Environs!

Discussion in 'Travel Stories' started by giradman, Jun 6, 2014.

  1. giradman

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    Susan & I just returned from a 4-night vacation to West Virginia, known as the Mountain State and also for its 'mountain highways' - take a listen HERE to John Denver singing Take Me Home, Country Roads - driving the major roads of this state is like having your car in the midst of an ocean w/ waves cresting and valleys between; this is our third vacation to this state and I'm still enthralled with driving these mountain roads (and I cannot really find a pic on the web to duplicate the visual experience, sorry).

    West Virginia is an oddly shaped state (separated from Virginia by seceding from the Confederate State in the beginning of the Civil War and was then admitted to the Union in 1863 - more history HERE, for those interested; and see first map below) - bordering the state of Ohio along the great river of the same name; touching Pennsylvania w/ a thin finger (where Wheeling is located) extending north; then touching Maryland in a rather convoluted manner; its borders w/ previous 'parent' Virginia are pretty much along the Shenandoah Valley.

    From our home in Piedmont North Carolina, I usually head first into Virginia on HW 77 (second map below) - then turned onto HW 19 (traverses the New River Gorge on a world famous bridge - more in a separate post) which then hits HW 79, which we took to the Stonewall Jackson State Park and lake (see the red arrow below on the 2nd map); we did 'day trips' to Charleston, the capitol of the state (blue arrow), and also to the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania to see Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater (approximately where the green arrow is placed; I've already posted a few pics in the image sharing thread). We stayed at the Stonewall Resort (third pic below) which is on a man-made mountain lake w/ numerous 'watery' fingers, typical of these lakes.

    So, I'll be adding further posts about the state park, visits to Charleston & to Fallingwater, and also one on the New River Gorge Bridge - for those who live in the eastern part of the USA and have not been to this mountain state, then a strong recommendation. Dave :)

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    WestVA_Map.png Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 7.29.41 PM.png Stonewall+Resort+small.jpg
     
  2. giradman

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    Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park & Resort

    As in my opening post, we stayed at the Stonewall Resort (info HERE) which is located in the Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park, named after the Confederate general (American Civil War), Thomas Jonathan Jackson who was born in 1824 in Clarksburg, Virginia @ that time (see map in first post - city is just north of the park); so when West Virginia became a state, so Jackson, a Virginian at the start of the war was now born a West Virginian - Jackson was nicknamed 'Stonewall' after the first battle of Bull Run (July 1861); he died after the battle of Chancellorsville (May 1863 - just 2 months before Gettysburg) - map shows a number of our other West Virginia vacations, i.e. Pipestem State Park & the Greenbrier Resort (also the Snowshoe Ski Resort in the summer - we're too old to ski!).


    The Stonewall Jackson Dam was created by the Army Corps of Engineers, completed in 1990 (info HERE, which flooded the valleys between the mountains giving the appearance of the lake shown in the 3rd image below (blue arrow is the location of the dam which we visited - and is rather 'modest' but EFFECTIVE!) - I'll continue in the next post about the resort. Dave :)

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    Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 9.52.47 PM.png Stonewall_Jackson_-_National_Portrait_Gallery.JPG Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 10.19.11 PM.png
     
  3. scifan57

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    A great start to a great new travel thread. Your travel posts have me waiting in anticipation for the next instalment, keep them coming.:)
     
  4. leelai

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    Such an interesting read Dave, learning the history of the area as I have John Denver playing in my mind! :)

    I know I would enjoy that drive very much and look forward to hearing more.....especially about a certain mountain cabin! ;)
     
  5. The OB

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    An excellent informative read! Thanks Dave. I envy those "little" vacations of yours in interesting and picturesque parts of your country. Great history lessons there as well:)
    Andrew


    Sent from Oz using Tapatalk
     
  6. giradman

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    Thanks all for your kind responses - I enjoy doing these brief travelogues and relish the 'feedback' - please ask questions if further explanation(s) are desired - I could easily expand on many of the brief summaries given - Dave :)
     
  7. giradman

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    Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park & Resort (continued)

    Just a little about the Resort, mainly for those who may be traveling through West Virginia and are looking for accommodations; rated 4*/5 overall (we were a little disappointed w/ the main restaurant; two other less formal eateries are present on the property). The amenities are numerous - just a few include hiking trails, a beautiful Arnold Palmer designed mountain golf course (pic below), indoor/outdoor swimming pools, plenty of lake activities (canoes, kayaks, etc.), a marina, fishing possibilities (lake is stocked w/ a long list of fish), and beautiful timber-framed architecture (pic below of the lobby).

    On our first day, Susan & I did a 4-mile hike of their Lakeshore Trail w/ beautiful water views (about a half dozen trails are available of varying difficulty; to me a beautiful sight was seeing dead trees in 'finger' of the lake we walked (my own pic below). The views from the pool area and patio are beautiful looking across the lake - below a view from a chair in the late afternoon w/ some beautiful clouds (which turn red in the sunset) - I was finishing up a draft IPA local beer.

    Finally, there is a small tour boat (just a trip a day - free to the guests) called the Little Sorrel, the latter the more interesting - Little Sorrel was the name of Stonewall Jackson's horse and is now 'stuffed' and on view in the Chapel Museum of Washington & Lee University (after the Civil War, Robert E. Lee became president of Washington College which was renamed after his death; Lee is entombed there, also) in Lexington, VA; VMI (Virginia Military Institute) is also in that town - Jackson was a military teacher there before the war - George Marshall of WWWII fame was an alumnus and his library is located in Lexington - a MUST visit Shenandoah Valley town if you're in the area. Dave :) P.S. please click on the images!

    Stonewall_resort2.jpg Stonewall-lobby.jpg SWJackson1.JPG SWJackson2.JPG SWJacksonLake.JPG
     
  8. suenc

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    From Susan: The mountains were breathtaking. From far away the trees look all squeezed together. They reminded me of heads of broccoli. By the way, I am not a photographer, so this is a Google photo. We didn't see this cabin.:)
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    Broccoli3.jpg
     
    #8 suenc, Jun 7, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2014
  9. giradman

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    Charleston - Capitol of West Virginia

    Our first day trip was to the largest city in West Virginia and its capitol - the population is less than our home town of Winston-Salem, NC; but I love to visit state capitols not only to see the buildings which are often impressive and a symbol of state pride, but also to visit the various museums, especially the 'state museum' portraying the history of the region. The drive was just 90 minutes on HW 79 South and was worth the trip alone - mountains just everywhere but different from the 'ranges' that I usually see in Virginia and North Carolina - the West VA mountains are often like BIG green 'cupcakes' covered w/ trees and disappearing into the horizon - I believe this geography is the reason Susan in her post above liken their appearance to bunches of broccoli!

    The state capitol changed a number of times in the 19th century between Wheeling (north on the Ohio River) and Charleston (on the Kanawah River), but was finally decided by vote in 1877 to be Charleston. The capitol building is impressive, a center rotunda w/ a tall dome and two wings - the present building was constructed in the 1920s & early 30s, and was dedicated in 1932 (couple of my pics below plus one from the web at night across the river). The building is a massive construction mainly of limestone and marble - the dome stands at 292 ft. (the tallest building in the state and also slightly higher that the USA Capitol building in Washington, D.C.) - below a close-up view of the dome which is gilded in gold leaf (recently renovated) and glitters in the sunlight.

    The West Virginia State Museum is housed inside the Culture Center building in the government complex and w/i steps of the capitol building. Now I've been to most states in the USA, but probably only a dozen or so 'state museums' - this one is certainly well done and worth a visit - as expected in many of these state museums the flow is usually arranged chronologically (couple pics in next post). Also, the Governor's Mansion is on a corner of the complex overlooking the Kanawha River (a couple of more images in next post) - the interior looks beautiful and tours can be reserved - we did not do one. Dave :)

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    CharlestonCapitol1.JPG CharlestonCapitol2.JPG Screen Shot 2014-06-08 at 10.01.12 AM.png WV003.JPG
     
    #9 giradman, Jun 8, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2014
  10. giradman

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    Charleston (continued) - just some additional pics of the State Museum & Governor's Mansion - :)
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    culturecenter.jpg Boats-and-Rivers.jpg executivemansion.jpg DSCN2218.JPG
     

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