West Virginia has a rich history that is indelibly linked to the land and the natural resources within. Before Europeans ever set foot on the continent, early mound-building tribes inhabited the area. They burned the land to grow crops, and even had a trade system culture. That is, until the Iroquois tribes from the northeast invaded and drove them out to expand their hunting grounds.
When the Europeans arrived, the rugged nature of the terrain did not lend itself to vast plantations, which made slavery impractical and unprofitable in the region. Instead, the land was worked by small farmers, with a culture much different than that found in the eastern territory of Virginia. Decades later, West Virginia became known as the coal mining state, which cultivated a society even more dependent on the earth. Often stereotyped for its poverty-stricken, Appalachian culture, West Virginia has remained a key natural resource for many interests over hundreds of years. Today, the land is still a major factor in West Virginia’s economy and culture.
More and more, however, West Virginia is also becoming well known for amazing outdoor adventure, unique shopping, fantastic entertainment, fine dining, delicious craft beer, incredible natural scenery, and much more! Aimed directly at today’s seekers of fun, West Virginia is a treasure trove of beautiful Bed and Breakfast locations, adventure resorts, craft breweries, wineries, and unique restaurants, as well as one-of-a-kind shopping experiences!
Over the next few issues, Appalachian Hub will continue to explore the most exciting things to do, the most interesting attractions, and the best shopping, as well as the best dining, wine, and craft beer to be found in West Virginia. We’ll also be uncovering those special hideaways and must-stay destinations that the Mountain State has to offer…like the incomparable Glen Ferris Inn!
After meandering west along highway 60, you will eventually come to a quaint village dotted with houses on the hillside painted in an enchanting array of pastel hues. In the midst of this remote, pastoral fantasy is Glen Ferris Inn. This elegant building has stood on the banks of the Kanawha River since 1807, just three miles from Cathedral Falls and ten miles from Hawks Nest State Park. The old-world restaurant on the ground floor features a wrap-around porch that faces the river, with a spectacular view of the falls. This is a perfect place to disconnect and relax in style. The country-style rooms are individually decorated and provide en-suite bathrooms. Some have 4-poster beds and/or river views. You can find this unique experience at 9022 Midland Trail, Route 60, Glen Ferris. For more information, visit their website at www.glenferrisinn.com, or call 304-632-1111.
With the Fall season fast approaching, any drive through West Virginia will be a treat for the eyes! With acres and acres of forested mountains, the fall foliage will make you feel like you are driving through crisp, chilly flames! The reds, golds, and ambers of the treetops will only be matched in their brilliance by the reds, golds, and ambers to be found filling the glasses at dozens of craft breweries throughout the state!
With that chill in the air will also come the fall brewing season. Typical Oktoberfest brews featuring seasonal herbs and spices will be on tap at places like Short Story Brewing in Rivesville, just southwest of Morgantown; a hop, skip, and a jump from the Pennsylvania border. Rivesville is a former coal mining town with a very cozy population of less than five-hundred households. If you want to experience a unique hometown brewery while exploring one of the most significant aspects of recent West Virginia history, make sure your route takes you through Rivesville! And be sure to stop into Short Story Brewing to sample the delicious hometown brews, like the Sideways Glance IPA! To learn more about Short Story and their full list of taproom offerings, visit www.shortstorybrewing.com.
If you will be travelling a bit farther south, you’ll find Weathered Ground Brewery at 2027 Flat Top Road, in Ghent – just about fifty miles northwest from the Virginia border on I-77. Weathered Ground features small batch West Virginia ales and lagers painstakingly crafted with the finest local ingredients. Check out their Wee TnT, which is a Cherry Cider Bourbon Barrel Aged Scotch ale that is super smooth with notes of vanilla and cherry! To learn about all the brews to be found on tap at Weathered Ground, visit their website at www.weatheredgroundbrewery.com.
If you’ll be visiting Weathered Ground after all the leaves have fallen, you can take advantage of its five-mile proximity to Winterplace Ski Resort! Just eight minutes away at 100 Old Flat Top Mountain Road in Ghent, Winterplace offers skiing, snowboarding, snow-tubing, lessons, rentals, lodging, and terrain for all ages and skill levels! They are equipped with a ski lift and a vertical drop of over six-hundred feet! Sprawling across ninety-plus acres, Winterplace has many runs, the longest of which is a mile and a quarter. They also have West Virginia's largest snow tubing park! For more information, visit www.winterplace.com.
Make your visit to Ghent a two-fer with exhilarating winter frolicking during the day, and delicious brews in the warm and cozy embrace of Weathered Ground Brewery in the evening.
Less than an hour north of Ghent, up I-77 and US-19 north, you can continue your West Virginia brewery tour at The Freefolk Brewery in Fayetteville. Located at 1690 Court Street, the folks at Freefolk believe in the power of creativity; the power of making things with your hands. Not only do they craft the beer, but the tap house features a dazzling display of handcrafted steel, wood, blacksmithing, and concrete, with every inch of the walls covered in painted murals. Together with a unique menu of delicious foods, the Freefolk tap room offers an eclectic array of brews, like the aptly named Day Trip Session Ale; which is lightly hopped, with malty notes for a supreme drinkability! For more information about the Freefolk food menu, as well as to see the entire beer list, visit them online at www.freefolkbrew.com.
If you are beginning your West Virginia adventure along I-64, you’ll find the small town of Lewisburg, about twenty-five miles west of the Virginia border. Lewisburg is a perfect example of how unexpected gems can pop up in the most unassuming of places! Lewisburg is most definitely a religious farming community, with a heavy emphasis on poultry. With Valley of the Moons Turkeys and Aviagen Turkeys within the same few square miles as multiple churches, Lewisburg may, at first glance, seem like any of the hundreds of other farming communities to be found across the nation. But this sleepy little town has its own Carnegie Hall!
Located on Church Street, Carnegie Hall is a regional performing and visual-arts center that presents concerts, exhibitions, films, and classes. Within two miles of Carnegie Hall, you can find fine dining at both The French Goat and The Livery Tavern. You can even find festive, music-filled nightlife at the Washington Street Pub. But don’t forget to grab a special souvenir before you leave this surprising little town! Just down the road at 203 East Washington Street, be sure to stop in at Sunflower Soul! This boutique is unique, and oh, so chic! Sunflower Soul is a happy store specializing in fun, happy, feel-good gifts and clothing for men, women, and children. With original-design tees, jewelry, collectibles, and more, you are sure to find a perfect reminder of your visit to Lewisburg. If you can’t get to Lewisburg soon, but you want to check out the awesome merchandise at Sunflower Soul, you can visit them online at www.pretty-whitetrash.com! You can also find them on Facebook.
Wild and Wonderful! These words can be found on thousands of bumper stickers, shot glasses, bottle openers, and countless other souvenir items across the state of West Virginia. Though mainly grouped in consideration with the southern-culture border states of Virginia and Kentucky, the eastern-most border nearly reaches Washington DC. It also shares a considerable length of its northern and eastern borders with Maryland. Snaking upward like a tendril, the northern-most parts of West Virginia are actually sandwiched between Ohio and Pennsylvania. There is more than meets the eye in the Mountain State, with an unexpectedly vast cultural spectrum. Keep picking up future issues of Appalachian Hub Magazine as we continue to explore all the entertainment, activities, food, craft beer, attractions, and shopping that every corner of West Virginia has to offer!