A feature piece by Pat Keenan
Have you ever wanted to get an adrenaline
rush by speeding down a river, jumping 3,030 feet off
a bridge, or climb rocks towering over acres of forest
at 90 feet? If the answer is “yes”, go to West Virginia.
Many people I talk with have asked “There’s a West
Virginia?” Quick history lesson, Virginia was a single
state, but then split in two in 1863, which resulted in
WEST Virginia. The state of West Virginia has been
known for its negative reputation, apparently consisting
of “hillbillies.” who only live there, but that is far from
the truth. Many people who have never set foot in the Mountain State would
be surprised by the deep history, cultural dignity, and breathtaking natural
beauty.
Recently, I traveled to West Virginia for my grandmother’s funeral.
My family gathered in her town of St. Albans, West Virginia. This small town
of 11, 028 people is located just outside of the state capital of Charleston. It
was strange for me to return to a place where I spent a good portion of my
childhood and see that nothing had really changed. Now, of course, a building
has been torn down and another built here and there, but for the most part it
has remained the same. In California there are a lot of things that get built and
remade all the time whether it’s new roads or new shopping plazas, but with
things staying the same, it becomes easier to remember all the times that were
spent there.
West Virginia’s most famous hotel, The Greenbrier, which opened in
1778, has a famous history. The Greenbrier has played host to presidents, tycoons and stars, and it has also served as a military hospital during the Civil
War and World War II and emergency bunker for the Cold War Congress.
Today visitors from all over the states travel to The Greenbrier
to play golf, enjoy the hotel’s renowned spa, and relax in the
serenity of West Virginia’s forested mountains. West Virginia’s
hunting and fishing opportunities draw sportsmen from near
and far. If you enjoy fishing or hunting, consider spending a
weekend in The Mountain State. New River Gorge National
River, part of the U.S. National Park system, attracts over one
million visitors each year. The park, which encompasses a
50-plus mile stretch of the New River, preserves some of West
Virginia’s best-known landmarks and view points, including
the Great Bend Tunnel where legendary steel driver John Henry
faced off against a steam-powered machine and the New River
Bridge, over 3,000 feet long and 876 feet high.
Having this kind of home to fall back on can be a very
relaxing thing. Being able to get away and really be able to
do outside activities that aren’t possible in the west coast is
great and that is why it draws so many people. These are the
reasons why West Virginia lives up to its state motto “Wild and
Wonderful”.