Visit History, West Virginia

Last week, I began a series to encourage people to visit historic sites. After posting an article on the a drop in the number of people visiting historic sites and museums, several people stated that it was mainly due to cost. So here is a list of sites that you can visit for free, or for a low cost. The “Low Cost” definition is and adult price at $10 or less and a child price of $6 or less. I hope that this will get more people visiting and learning at historic sites.

Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park – Summersville WV- On September 10, 1861 Union troops led by Brigadier General William S. Rosecrans engaged the Confederates and forced them to evacuate an entrenched position on the Henry Patterson Farm which overlooked Carnifex Ferry. The Confederate commander, Brigadier General John B. Floyd retreated across the ferry to the south side of the Gauley River and on eastward to Meadow Bluff near Lewisburg. This Civil War battle represented the failure of a Confederate drive to regain control of the Kanawha Valley. As a result, the movement for West Virginia statehood proceeded without serious threat from the Confederates. This is a free site.

Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex – Moundsville WV – The heart of the site is probably the most famous and certainly the largest of the Adena Burial mounds. A massive undertaking, the total effort required the movement of more than 60,000 tons of earth. Artifacts and exhibits interpreting the lifestyle of the Adena people are displayed in the Delf Norona Museum, adjacent to the 2,000 year old mound. The mound and museum are both free.

Pricketts Fort – Fairmount WV – Prickett’s Fort State Park uses a living history style of interpretation to preserve, document and exhibit the past. It features an 18th century recreation of the original Pricketts Fort which provided a place of refuge from Native American attack. In addition, guests enjoy visiting the original 19th century Job Prickett House, Prickett Cemetery, Visitor Center, and Museum Gift Shop. This is a low cost site.

Jefferson County Museum – Charles Town WV – The Jefferson County Museum is located in historic downtown Charles Town and shares a building with its partner organization, the Charles Town Library. Since its founding in 1965, the museum has been dedicated to fostering the understanding and love of history. The museum is committed to the acquisition, preservation, and exhibition of objects of historical value and relevance to the county and the region. The Jefferson County Museum is a low cost site.

Harper’s Ferry National Historic Park – Harpers Ferry WV – The raid on Harpers Ferry was intended to be the first stage in an elaborate plan to establish an independent stronghold of freed slaves in the mountains of Maryland and Virginia. Choosing Harpers Ferry because of its arsenal and because of its location as a convenient gateway to the South, John Brown and his band of 16 whites and five blacks seized the armoury on the night of October 16. Quickly the entire countryside was alerted, and combined state and federal troops overwhelmed the raiders in two days.  The raid on Harpers Ferry was intended to be the first stage in an elaborate plan to establish an independent stronghold of freed slaves in the mountains of Maryland and Virginia. Harper’s Ferry is a low cost site, the price is $15.00 for a private vehicle, or $7.00 for an individual.

Historic Sheperdstown & Museum – Sheperdstown WV – The Historic Shepherdstown Museum is located in the Entler Hotel, at the corner of Princess and East German Street in Shepherdstown. In 1983 the Historic Shepherdstown Museum was founded to preserve and display artifacts, furniture, and historic documents that might otherwise have been lost. This is a low cost site.

Tu-Endie-Wei State Park – Point Pleasant WV – Located on four acres in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, Tu-Endie-Wei State Park is home to an 84-foot granite monument commemorating the frontiersmen who fought and died in the 1774 Battle of Point Pleasant. The monument was erected in 1909, and rests where the Kanawha and Ohio Rivers meet. The name Tu-Endie-Wei is a Wyandotte word meaning “point between two waters.” Tu-Endie-Wei is day park open year-round.

West Virginia Independence Hall – Wheeling WV – Nearly six years before President Lincoln signed the proclamation making West Virginia the 35th State in the Union, construction had begun on the Wheeling Custom House, headquarters for federal offices for the Western District of Virginia. Its completion, coinciding with the beginning of the Civil War, provided a facility for heated political discussions and constitutional conventions that led to eventual statehood for West Virginia in 1863. Here, issues dividing many Virginians – slavery being one of many – were debated, compromised and shaped into the skeleton of statehood. Serving as the Restored Government of Virginia (aligned with the Union) from 1861-1863, it is appropriately known today as West Virginia Independence Hall.

World War I Memorial – Kimball WV – The World War I Memorial in Kimball was the first memorial built in the US to honor African-American Veterans of World War I. Today it is the only such memorial remaining.

Veterans Memorial of Southern WV – Hinton WV – Collections & memorabilia from the Revolutionary, Civil, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam & the Gulf Wars. General MacArthur’s footlocker, vintage Jeep.

West Virginia Mine Wars Museum – Matewan WV – Step into this unique museum to experience the history of The West Virginia Mine Wars through the eyes of mine workers and their families.

Camp Allegheny – Elkins WV – This haunting, windswept encampment was successfully defended on December 13, 1861, when Confederate Gen. Edward Johnson’s troops repelled an attack by Union forces. However, the loss of men contributed to the decision to abandon it in April 1862. Earthworks, gun positions and chimney falls from the encampment are evident. Location: From U.S.250 near the Virginia/WV state line, turn south at sign on County Rd. 3, turn right at the T junction, then go 2 more miles (Road may be closed due to snow in winter.) Open: year-round, dawn to dusk.

Rich Mountain Battlefield – Beverly WV – Rich Mountain Battlefield Civil War Site includes the battle site, Confederate Camp Garnett, and connecting section of the old Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike. On July 11, 1861, Union troops under Gen. George B. McClellan routed Confederates holding the pass over Rich Mountain. This victory led to General McClellan’s appointment to command the Army of the Potomac. It also gave the Union control of northwestern Virginia, allowing the formation of the state of West Virginia two years later. Visitors are strongly encouraged to go to the visitors center in Beverly for directions and information before proceeding to the battle site at the top of the mountain.

Cheat Summit Fort – Valley Head WV – Gen. George B. McClellan ordered this pit-and-parapet fort to be built in 1861 under the command of Gen. R.H. Milroy to secure the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike and protect the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. The Confederate failure to take the fort in September 1861 was central in the failure of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s western Virginia campaign.

This gives anyone a great opportunity to visit historic sites all over West Virginia. I hope this encourages you to get out and visit some of these sites.

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