With a region steeped in dense, verdant mountains, you know where you’re going to find stunning views along fall driving roads. Pocahontas County has more scenic byways than any other county in West Virginia: the Highland Scenic Highway (Rt. 150) – one of the first highways in the National Scenic Byways program; the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike (Rt. 250)– surveyed by Claudius Crozet, Napoleon Bonaparte’s surveyor; the Appalachian Waters Scenic Byway (Rt. 39) – connects Virginia and West Virginia in the scenic byways program; the Williams River Backway; the Camp Allegheny Backway; and the Back Mountain Backway.
What do these byways mean for Pocahontas County? Well, they mean a lot. Visitors to our area look for scenic roads to travel. Some visitors take scenic routes to destinations and consider “getting there” as a part of their vacation and some use our scenic roads once they are here as something else to do on their visit.
The overlooks are on the east side of the Highway but we’ve found the west side offers some amazing views as well. The overlook at Black Mountain provides an educational boardwalk that explains the irresponsible timbering practices that led to a destructive forest fire that left the area barren for decades. If you’re driving the Highland Scenic Highway this fall, you can get a lapel pin by stopping in at either the CVB visitors center in Marlinton or the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center. It’ll help you fondly remember your trip.
The Williams River Byway is one of my favorite rides in the county. There’s like no traffic – ever – or so it seems to me. The byway runs adjacent to the famous Williams River and there’s plenty of opportunity to stop and dangle your feet in the cold, crisp water of the Williams. Bring a fishing pole and by all means, your camera.
When you’re out this fall, look for new signage along the Highland Scenic Highway. Most of the markers relate to water and forest conservation, while a few concentrate on local history and recreation. Did you know there once was a federal prison along the Highland Scenic Highway just off the Rt 39 access? Markers explain this little known piece of our unique history.
For fall touring maps, Highland Scenic Highway maps, contact the CVB office at 800.336.7009 or request more information on the web.
Enjoy your travels along the Pocahontas County Quilt Trail and discover a tradition that is rooted in the 19th century and has Civil War significance. The patterns, adorned on extra-large placards on the side of barns throughout the county, connect the strong heritage of quilting to the plight so many endured during the Civil War. Quilting provided a way for people to quietly express their sentiments and support a cause. As you explore the area, learn about patterns such as the “Bear’s Paw,” which signifies caution when traveling, or “Corn and Beans,” which reflects the country’s agricultural society’s dependence on crops during that period. The Quilt Trail will take you on a journey through history, from the “West Virginia Star” in southern Pocahontas County to “Rail Fence” in the north, while you enjoy the beautiful scenery found in Pocahontas County.
Click here to go to the WV Quilt Trail website.
Cranberry Nature Center is a welcome respite set inside the verdant Monongahela Forest that sits along Rt 39 about six miles east of Mill Point on the way to Richwood.
When you visit the Nature Center, you’ll be greeted by Carolyn McCloud who has worked at the Center for the CVB for nine years. Carolyn loves her work as displayed by her interest and knowledge in the unique plants and animals that people can see on a trip through the forest.
“Visitors really enjoy Roy Moose’s program on snakes,” explains Carolyn. “He really holds their interest and the parents like the show as much as the kids do!” The hands -on displays are popular, Carolyn explains, in particular the scat display and the “Who lives here showcase”. Continue reading Cranberry Nature Center
Some of the sweetest times I can remember with my dad were times that he would take me out fishing with him when I was a kid and we lived in Butte Montana. He was most peaceful when he was standing in the middle of the Big Hole River, or the Wise or the Jefferson. I’m not sure where he learned to fish, couldn’t have been from his father as they lost contact when dad was young but somewhere along the line he learned to work the river, he always came back with fish. He just knew where they were and how to catch them. And he knew early on, he didn’t stay for hours in an area that didn’t result in anything. We’d move up or down the river often just so he could see them hitting or watch the flies on top of the water.
It was not until years after my dad died that I understood that catching fish and fishing were not even close to the same thing. Fishing is about going to a secret place, in your mind, where nobody else can go. It’s about not hearing or seeing anything. It’s about NOT being focused. No thoughts, no ideas, no sentences. Fishing is the peace. Fishing is appreciation of the outdoors and all that it offers each of us, differently.
Well now back to Pocahontas County. Pocahontas County is a fisherman’s paradise! With eight rivers that have their headwaters here, and dozens of streams, and runs that flow into those eight magnificent rivers, we have lots of fishing to be had. The rivers include: the Greenbrier, Gauley, Elk, Cherry, Cranberry, Tygart, Williams, and Shavers Fork of the Cheat. The most interesting fact is the only water that comes into the county is from rainwater; all other water runs out.
Many beautiful trout streams are easily accessible from the numerous scenic byways that traverse the county. The newest byway, the Appalachian Waters Scenic Byway (Rt. 39) travels along Knapps Creek, which starts near Frost, WV and flows into the Greenbrier River in Marlinton. The fishing is great and the water sparkles this time of year with the melting snow. The stream is narrow enough for the youngest anglers and swift enough to challenge the most advanced sports person.
One of my favorite spots along the Greenbrier River is between Buckeye and Watoga. There are several places to access it and then travel north along the river’s edge. Of course we all know the best time to fish the Greenbrier is now, early spring. Later in the year the East Fork and the West Fork run shy on water and everybody south suffers. The area just south of Clover Lick has some good holes for trout and I’ve seen some nice largemouth come out of the river on spinner baits. If bass are hanging out in deeper water or are just simply difficult to locate, you may want to start throwing crankbaits. These lures cover a lot of water quickly and work through a wide range of depths. There’s nothing prettier than seeing a largemouth jumping out of river to latch onto top water bait.
For those who prefer the slower pace of lake fishing, Pocahontas County touts 3 stocked locations; Watoga State Park, Seneca State Forest and Buffalo Lake. Buffalo Lake is the largest in Pocahontas County and is stocked with trout bi-weekly during the spring.
It’s spring in the mountains, the snow is melting, the trillium are about to bloom. Don your waders, pack a thermos, and go fishing. Leave everything else behind.
Enjoy the spring! Its one of the 4 best seasons of the year. For more information or to request a Travel Guide, contact the Pocahontas County CVB at 1-800-336-7009.
Soon at the CVB office on Main Street the phones will be ringing off the hooks. The main question we get asked is “Where is the closest Hampton Inn?” Staff explains to the potential visitor that all the lodging in Pocahontas County is privately owned and we don’t have any chain hotels or motels. That is followed by “Then where should we stay?”
The CVB staff knows winter visitors very well and so we begin questioning them about where they’d like to stay, what are their expectations and needs. Do they want a motel, B and B, cabin, condo, resort property, lodge room, or cottage?
Then our work begins. We find out how many people are in their group. Where are they coming from? Do they mind a drive to the slopes each day? Do they have four-wheel drive? What amenities are they looking for? Continue reading Helping skiers find a cozy place to stay
Each of us can identify an event or activity that inspired us or made us think differently about the world around us. Sometimes in searching for the “big one”, we overlook some of the diminutive ones that can be profound if we let them.
This summer in Pocahontas County, and the entire region, there have been dozens of festivals, parades, and celebrations to recognize the Sesquicentennial of West Virginia. From Vandalia to WV Division of Culture and History special events throughout the state, to a cake that was an 8 foot replica of the State Capitol and served 15 thousand people – West Virginians have celebrated our history and heritage, our anniversary and our birth day.
Did you have a special moment? One where you swallowed hard, choked a bit, wiped back a tear and hoped nobody else saw it? Was there a time where you said, “Oh yes, this is part of me, part of my people!”
On Saturday August 31, 2013 I participated with two dozen others from near and far in a hike in the clouds – Droop Mountain encased in fog. The mission was to trace the route the 7th West Virginia Cavalry (formerly the 8th West Virginia Mounted Infantry) took that led to that fateful battle which ultimately in chronicles of history is known as the Battle Droop Mountain.
There were only two among the group who did not have ancestors in the battle on either side. We were all focused as Mike Smith, Park Superintendent, detailed the activities of the day. The incline of 800 feet over less than three miles would be a test for all of us but we were anxious to go and so we did.
Mike was a born story teller so we quickly forgot the physical challenges of the hike as he generously gave us facets and intricacies of not just the generals names and regiments but also of stories of strength and persistence – how a mother sent her husband a letter articulating how she and her four young sons had a difficult time getting in all of the maple sugar while the men were at war but their efforts resulted in over 25 pounds of sugar, so you can imagine the number of gallons of maple water she must have started with and the amount of wood they must have had to cut, chop and burn to perform all the cooking.
As I said before, these hikers were descendants of many of the soldiers so the detail to strategy and logistics heightened their interest. Mike acquiesced to a few of the participants to make sure particulars were precise. From Dallas Sheffer’s booklet, The Battle of Droop Mountain: “The mountain is divided into an almost straight line by a ridge, and into the dense brush and forest first went Marshall’s men in a vain attempt to stem the oncoming Federals. Then came Colonel Thompson and more of the same regiment. The 23rd Battalion entered the woods to support Thompson’s left. The Fourteenth Virginia Cavalry soon followed, supported in turn by a detachment of the 22nd Virginia Infantry, under the gallant Captain John K. Thompson, who actually held the line for a short time. But the woods were so thick that no troop movements could be guided, and the Federals drove the Confederate forces back into a cleared section, where in a space of one acre thirteen were killed and forty-seven wounded.
About 1:45 Averell decided from the disturbance at the Confederate front, that Moor had flanked the left. The Second, Third, and Eighth West Virginia, dismounted, were moved in line obliquely to the right, up the face of the mountains, until their right joined Moor’s left. The fire of Ewing’s Battery was added to that of Keeper’s, and the 19th Virginia Cavalry and the 22nd and 23rd Virginia Battalions were driven back on the remaining Confederate forces. Arnett and Cochrane at the center gallantly defended their positions but when it was seen that the left had been turned the whole force fell back under a severe shelling and enfilading fire.”
Four hours after we began, we could now see the sky peaking through scrubby trees. Many used trekking poles or even our hands to get to this place. The wet ground from a season of rain made several positions slippery so many veered off the path a couple of feet to walk among eight foot weeds not traced. We all breathed a sigh of relief as we sat on old stumps and the cool ground.
It was at the old oak which I was confidently resting against that I had my moment. Impressed when told the tree was estimated to be over 300 years old, my math skills quickly deducted the old oak tree had seen it all!
Boys and men, fathers, brothers, lovers, husbands and sons had passed underneath this very oak tree. There was no jubilation in our meager success. We drank water from plastic bottles, and satiated on vanilla yogurt breakfast bars – we who dressed in rip stop breeches and Merrell hiking boots. For that one moment we all understood how extraordinary our gathering was – from different political, educational and social backgrounds – there was a thread that would bind us. The heavy fog had burned off on top of the mountain, and for a split second in time, we who had come to pay tribute to them were each moved by a spirit of compassion and stillness and humility.
And I wiped away my tear.
Let’s give a hip, hip hooray to local business person Chuck Workman of Appalachian Sport on Rt 219 for again this year leading the effort to stock trout in the Greenbrier River in and around Marlinton. This effort is totally funded through local donations. Last year $4500 was raised among local Marlinton area businesses to stock rainbow trout in the Greenbrier River. The program’s success was voiced by the businesses in the area that saw increased traffic due to the stocking and by passersby who noted more fishing activity along the Greenbrier River during those time periods. Continue reading Local businessman spearheads trout stocking
West Virginia has a great scenic byways program and utilizes the program more than any other state. Pocahontas County also uses the program. We have more scenic byways than any other county in West Virginia: the Highland Scenic Highway (Rt. 150) – one of the first highways in the National Scenic Byways program; the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike (Rt. 250)– surveyed by Claudius Crozet, Napoleon Bonaparte’s surveyor; the Appalachian Waters Scenic Byway (Rt. 39) – connects Virginia and West Virginia in the scenic byways program; the Williams River Backway; the Camp Allegheny Backway; and the Back Mountain Backway.
What do these byways mean for Pocahontas County? Well, they mean a lot. Visitors into our area look for scenic roads to travel. Some visitors take scenic routes to destinations and consider “getting there” as a part of their vacation and some use our scenic roads once they are here as something else to do on their visit. But what else does it mean for us?
Well, I think it is also very important to community pride. We live and work in some of the most beautiful lands in the United States. We can take pride in knowing that not only do we who live here believe that our area is beautiful, but so do those in Charleston, WV and Washington, DC who designate these roadways for their aesthetic value.
The other part of community pride in connection with the scenic byways program is the research that goes along with the designation. The groups that work on the applications learn so much about the history and importance of the roads. Then they share that knowledge with those who live along the roadways and we all learn more about how unique and special this area really is!
Of course, another important part of the byways program is the funding that is available for projects along the scenic byway. There are grants available though the Division of Highways for establishments of museums; facilities for pedestrians and bicycles; safety and educational activities; acquisition of scenic easements; welcome center projects; landscaping and beautification projects; historic preservation; rehabilitation of historic transportation facilities; preservation of abandoned railway corridors; archaeological planning and research; etc.
The Appalachian Waters Scenic Byway (Rt. 39) is the newest byway for Pocahontas County. It stretches from Interstate 81 in Lexington, VA to Rt. 19 at Summersville, WV. This byway project has brought tourism advocates in West Virginia and Virginia together in a marketing and development project that will cross state lines. Five groups actively participated in projects within their community – Lexington Area Tourism Bureau, Rockbridge Co., VA; Bath Co. Chamber of Commerce, Bath Co., VA; Pocahontas County CVB, Pocahontas Co., WV; Summersville CVB, Nicholas Co., WV; and Greenbrier County CVB for Greenbrier County.
Click here to go to the Appalachian Waters Scenic Byway and see a video on all the fun events and great attractions along this beautiful byway.
So as you are traveling to or around our area, take time to look and enjoy our scenic roadways. They are very important to the tourism industry and to those of us who use them.
For more information on our area contact the Pocahontas County CVB at 1-800-336-7009.
In light of the catastrophe that happened along the east coast this week, we need to remember the Flood of 1985 and bow our head for a moment to pray for victims everywhere.
It’s November 4, 2012 – a day we always will honor those affected by The Great West Virginia Flood of 1985. Many locals around here indicate their place didn’t flood until the next day. In either case, it is a sad day in our state’s history and is now referred to as The Great Flood of 1985. Continue reading November 4 1985 – Remember
What do you in Pocahontas County when the brilliant colors of fall are gone and the sparkle of snow hasn’t yet hit the ground? What do you do when there are no more festivals to attend? I get asked that question quite often. And I have the answer – actually several answers for you!
We’re still going to have some beautiful weather ahead – in the 60’s anyway. It’s a great time to take a bike ride on some of the less traveled trails within the county. A few come to mind, such as Cow Pasture Trail around the Cranberry Glades. From here you can access the South Fork Ride which goes 15 miles west towards Nicholas County. The trail is easy and the views are exhilarating.
If you’re into something more passive, then try a visit to the 4th Avenue Gallery in downtown Marlinton. They don’t mind if you purchase something or not. The joy of being at the Gallery is similar to spending the day at a fine museum. Walk through, enjoy the bright colors, the different textures, and visit with an artist who tends the store each day. You’ll feel better after you’ve visited there.
Keep an eye on who’s playing at the Pocahontas County Opera House. Toe-tapping music to drama theater to eclectic tunes can usually be heard, especially during the weekend.
Sit along the Greenbrier River or Knapps Creek – you’ll be surprised at how many fish you can see or better yet, at how many birds you can spy.
Hike to Anne Bailey’s Look-out at Watoga State Park. The view is worth the hike and based on how far you want to walk – you can take the three mile trail or the one mile trial. Either way, the view is magnificent.
Drive down a back country road like Lobelia Road from Hillsboro or Jacox Road off Lobelia or John Run Road out of Durbin. You’ll never know what you might find – a bear, a pheasant, a bobcat or a babbling stream that’s well fed and beckons you to drink. Most of all enjoy yourself….you never know when you’ll get back this way.