The Midland Trail In West Virginia Winds Through 180 Miles Of State History
Are you looking for a beautiful, interesting drive through the Mountain State? Cutting across southern West Virginia, the Midland Trail follows modern-day US Route 60 along a well-worn path through time and across diverse regions of the state. It’s a worthy day trip!
The Midland Trail in West Virginia is a scenic byway traversing the state from Ceredo in the west to White Sulphur Springs in the east.
It is actually part of the larger national Midland Trail spanning the country from Washington DC to California, which is considered the first transcontinental route in America. However, even just the 180-mile West Virginia portion of this road is rich with over 200 years of history.
The story of the Midland Trail begins prior to European history, with trails cut through the mountains by the Native Americans. In the pioneer days, George Washington explored this territory and proposed the route through the mountains that would become part of the Midland Trail.
In 1873, the completion of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad caused road travel to decline. However, the Midland Trail was designated a National Scenic Byway in 2000, leading to increased awareness of its scenic beauty.
Here are just a few of the many points of interest along the Midland Trail (including, pictured above, its West Virginia headquarters in Charleston).
Near the eastern terminus of the trail, find the small city of Lewisburg. Founded in 1782, this is one of West Virginia's oldest towns. Its historic district contains rich pioneer history and many remarkable buildings.
Head west to Ansted, home to Tyree Tavern, a famous halfway house dating to 1800. A Civil War landmark, this building supposedly quartered both northern and southern troops as well as other famous travelers such as Henry Clay and Daniel Webster.
You'll also pass Hawks Nest State Park just outside of Ansted, with its incredible views of the New River Gorge and an array of hiking trails.
Just before the town of Gauley Bridge lies Cathedral Falls, one of the state's most scenic and accessible waterfalls. It lies right off the highway, and a short walk will give you an even better view.
Just beyond Gauley Bridge, the Kanawha Falls span the width of the river.
Malden was the boyhood home of Booker T. Washington, where he later returned after the war. The church where he taught Sunday school - African Zion Baptist Church, pictured - still stands.
During the mid 1800s, Malden was also the hub of the Kanawha Valley's internationally acclaimed salt industry, and the J.Q. Dickinson Salt Works provide a unique look at the salt making process.
Among the many attractions of the state capital of Charleston, the Capitol Building boasts the highest state capitol dome in the country. This impressive building is open to the public and guided tours are offered during the week.
Beyond Charleston in St. Albans, Morgan's Kitchen Museum dates to 1846 and was used as a hospital during the Civil War after the nearby Battle of Scary Creek. Today the small cabin is a museum and contains many pioneer era furnishings.
In Huntington, Heritage Farm Museum and Village brings Appalachian pioneer culture to life through its array of hands-on exhibits, crafts, and events in a recreated farmstead and community.
Not far away, the Museum of Radio Technology memorializes the history of electronics through its collection of vintage radios, TVs, computers, recording devices, and other fascinating technology.
As you pass through Ceredo near the western terminus of the route, note the Ramsdell House, thought to be one of the final stops on the Underground Railroad with a tunnel that ran from its basement to the nearby south bank of the Ohio River. Today Ramsdell House is a small museum with a fascinating collection of period artifacts.
Another Huntington historical attraction, Camden Park Amusement Park dates back to 1903 and features many vintage rides and an array of family attractions. It was built around an ancient Native American burial mound.
These are just a few of the beautiful and historical stops along the Midland Trail. Spend a long day or a leisurely weekend exploring this storied route! Learn more at the Midland Trail National Scenic Byway website
here. And if you’ve already driven the Midland Trail, try the Washington Heritage Trail for more history!
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Midland Trail East, Midland Trail E, White Sulphur Springs, WV 24986, USA
Midland Trail, Huntington, WV, USA